Okay so I'm back in VA, back at a computer. Here's Part 5 of my trip. Friday involved driving down to Colorado Springs for the hike. After my struggles to find a bank or just an ATM near the US Olympic Center, where the pre-hike rally was, I was finally able to get my pledges for the hike in and was ready to go. There was a really inspiring presentation by one of the people helped by the BIAC. She suffered a tremendous brain injury during the Salt Lake City tornado of 1999, and still suffers from disabilities from it to this day. She is not deterred from rehab though, and has downhill skied and participated in yesterday's hike.
Before going to the rally, I checked into my hotel in Manitou Springs and got to walk around a little bit. With all the hills and inclines in the town, if I lived there I would be twenty pounds down beyond what I've already lost this year!!!! A great, funky little town, with lots of cool shops, t shirt shops that aren't tacky, a great pizza place called Marylin's (named after Monroe) with an old school cassette deck boombox for the music. And an old school arcade to boot. Dig Dug and Donkey Kong are great ways to kill a half hour on a cloudy day while waiting for check in time. Pictures of Manitou to come.
The hike: All that running I've done in the blast furnace of VA/DC/MD? Even if the hills are small, but often one after another? Paid off. Big Time! Made it to Barr Camp, 7 miles out of 13, in exactly 3 hours hiking time. The next 6 miles are steeper for the most part and at higher altitude. in previous years, it would take me 5 hours or more for this stretch? This year? 3 hours 35 minutes not counting eating/discussion with other hikers breaks. 6 hours 35 minutes total hiking time, nearly, if not more than 2 hours faster than two years ago! The last mile only took me 40 minutes, from mile 12-13 35 minutes! I'm no super fast hiker by any means, but in previous editions of this hike I would take ten steps and have to stop once I got to the last few miles. Not this year. In fact, the one stretch where I was feeling tired came from mile 9 or so to the A Frame treeline shelter. To top it all off, my legs didn't feel heavy at all when I got to the summit. I was tired of course, but a lot more tired after my near 15 mile run at sea level 10 days or so ago.
The cause: Benefiting brain injury research and prevention is something that is very important to me. I've been fortunate not to have suffered one, but know others who have had these injuries. I also work at an agency that works with a lot of returning service personnel with brain injuries and helps them transition into civilian life should they leave the service and/or are getting ready to leave. Hearing about how Pikes Peak Challenge hike participants take part in the grueling hike and other physical challenges inspire me to no end. After hearing about how brave they are to take part after dealing with injuries far beyond what I have ever suffered: yeah, I ain't gonna bitch if my foot hurts or I twist my ankle, or even have a stomachache. Anything I have had to come back from has been extremely relatively minor. I am very happy that the money I raised went to help those who have suffered brain injuries.
The return trip home: locals, please don't get upset with me for what I'm about to say. I did not want to get on the plane to DFW and then to DC today. I realized how much I missed being out west. But I will move forward, back to work tomorrow, spin class on Monday, running on Tuesday, Thursday, and whenver else I fit running in. Back to humidity I guess.