I’ve been running on and off throughout my life, since my early twenties, and even though I’ve been a runner since then, I’ve never run an official race. I’ve talked about doing one and I really wanted to try running up Pike’s Peak sine the year I hiked it and saw they had an annual full and half marathon on the 14,000 foot mountain. This year, I finally decided to prepare myself for the chance at running up Pike’s Peak. In order to run that race, I was under the impression you had to have a prequalifying race doing another half marathon in less than two hours and twenty-five minutes. Though I’ve been a runner for most of my life, up to this point, I had only been able to run thirteen miles in the city, unofficially, two times out of several attempts. The majority of the runs that I’ve done in the past were three to five miles, only recently did I start trying to do ten miles. When I decided I wanted to really try to do Pike’s Peak, I decided to do the 10 Mile Run at Garden of the Gods, I figured it would be a good challenge for myself and would test whether or not I was ready to take on a pre-qualifying run. While training for that race, I drove up to Garden of the Gods the week before and did an unofficial run, so I would be familiar with the course of race day. The course for this race was breathtaking, literally. My unofficial time was an hour and forty-two minutes and on the day of the race, I officially finished with a time of one hour and thirty-seven minutes. Having finished my first official race and feeling good, I decided to take the next step and do a qualifying run for Pike’s Peak, which had to be thirteen miles and completed in under two hours and twenty-five minutes. With the thought that I ultimately wanted to do the Pike’s Peak Ascent, I decided to do a qualifying race that would take place at a higher elevation. I chose to do the Cheyenne Mountain Summer Round Up Half Marathon, which has an elevation gain of 1,500 feet. I knew this was going to be a challenge, I had only completed thirteen miles in the city a few times and adding in the elevation and hills, there was a chance I wouldn’t finish under the required time. To prepare, I did a few longer runs out at the Pueblo Reservoir and incorporated more hills. I extended my old run and tit ended up taking me to the of some cliffs which had an amazing view of Lake Pueblo. I also did a thirteen and a half mile run in the city the week before the race, and I was able to get my fastest time ever, just under two hours. Though I wished I had more time to train, I was feeling confident. On race day, I arrived around 5:15 am, I was the only one who signed in while smoking. After getting signed in and getting my running gear on, it was time to warm up. I always prepare for a run with a little stretching, focusing especially on my shins so I don’t get shin splints. I never do any light running or jogging in place before a run, I don’t want to start burning energy before I start. Usually, I just listen to some music, singing along to get my lungs open, and smoke a bowl. About twenty minutes before the start, I headed to the starting line, still taking a few tokes. About five minutes before the start, I took my final toke. The race started with an immediate uphill climb, I don’t know how much elevation we gained, but for the first three miles, we ran uphill. I didn’t have time to do a practice run on the course, so I didn’t know what to expect other than that there would be hills. I didn’t know it would be constant hills for miles! After I got through the first three miles, I started to feel good about the run, I was able to catch my breath, I felt loosened up, and the terrain was even starting to level out. However, it wasn’t long before the hills were back. At mile five, I was starting to get tired and wondering if I had taken on too big of a run for a qualifier, I was so focused on staying present, I didn’t notice my dad and girlfriend cheering me on. Miles five through nine were a bit of a blur, I don’t even remember seeing much of the scenery, but that was also because the trail was rocky and I had to focus on my foot placement, I did not want to trip, which I had seen a few people do. After the ninth mile, I started to focus more on my music and keeping my pace steady. When I hit the eleventh mile, I looked at the time on my watch and knew I was going to be really close the required time to qualify for Pike’s Peak. I tried to pick up the pace, but I was exhausted and didn’t want to end up having to walk for any distance. As I approached the finish line, I was able to pick up the pace a little, but as I crossed, I forgot to stop my watch so I would have an unofficial time. I was out of breath and hot as hell, so I took a cup of water they were offering, which was lukewarm and did not help at all! I was able to find a cooler with some cold water bottles, I drank half a bottle and poured the other half on my head to cool down. It took about twenty minutes before I was able to breath and even try to do a 420 clip, when I did do it, it burned my lungs so we only did one take. I got my official time about three days later and my time was two hours, twenty-five minutes, and ten seconds. I went over by ten seconds! Initially, I was really upset, but after looking closer at the qualifying times for Pike’s Peak, I found out that I didn’t need to beat that time! Since I had done the Garden of the Gods 10 Mile Run and the Summer Round Up, I only had to complete both races within the overall race time for both, which I had done! However, when I went to register for the Pike’s Peak Ascent, I was told the race was full for this year. Now, it’s time to decide what to do next. Maybe a full marathon? Maybe there’s another run that’s comparable to Pike’s Peak? You can view several video clips from my training and the actual race on my YouTube channel!