Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Day 44 - A great day!

Day 44 started off with a nice steady 5 mile warm up from Winter Park to the base of Berthoud Pass. The scenery was so spectacular and with the traffic being so quiet it was a great stretch to get my mind in the right place. 

I was desperate to put on a good show from mile 5 to 11.3 on the climb up Berthoud Pass. This would only be possibly if mind and body worked together in unison. Over the last 18 years, I've found that this is not an easy thing to achieve as a runner. I believed that having played this climb through in my mind over the last few years that I had a very good chance of reaching the summit in a bit of style. Or as much style as someone who has just ran 1180 miles over the previous 43 days could. To help things along I had the soundtrack from Gladiator playing on my iPod.
At the base of Berthoud Pass, I stopped briefly for a change of kit and to dump my hydration kit. I imagined my new kit as Gladiatorial robes. I took a moment to look up to the Colosseum. i.e. the next 6.3 miles where battle would be fought. 

The thousands of trees in the surrounding Arapaho National Forest were the partisan crowd baying for blood. Each twisting section on Berthoud Pass was a fierce opponent, well trained and well armed.

The surrounding elevation was to be the hungry lions in need of a good feed. It was all set up in my mind's eye to be the mightiest battle I had ever fought.

The first few opponents were slain with relative ease. These climbs were long and winding but quite comfortable. As subsequent opponents presented themselves I had to dig deeper and deeper each time to ensure that it was their blood spilled and not mine. 

Opponent after opponent fell but the 8th foe I faced was more mighty and fierce than any that had gone before him. In a heartbeat, I found my armour had been pierced (ok, I was sick a little at the side of the road). I gave out an all mighty battle cry and with an energy I'd not had to summon before, I made sure that his fate was the same as his Gladatorial brothers.

It was just Gladiators that were slain, but those hungry lions were put to the sword too. I discarded my helmet (Run Geordie Run hat) and attacked the final opponent without mercy.

Victory was surely to be mine with one last effort. With my lungs almost bursting out of my chest I was the final Gladiator standing. All around me were slain and I stood victorious. Victory was mine and mine alone in my imaginary Colosseum.

The partisan crowd left entertained for they had seen considerable blood shed in the arena that morning. Back to reality though and I was so pleased that I had reached the summit of Berthoud Pass in the style that I was after. I ran each of those 6.3 miles as if they were to be my last in the USA. Caution was thrown to the wind. There were no half measures to be seen that morning, I can tell you.

The final 4 of those 6.3 miles up to the summit were done in my anaerobic zone. I've never been able to push myself to that extent for that long. With 3 stone lost so far during this run and with the last 4 weeks spent at altitude, I'm beginning to see a lot of changes. Ultimately, I'm hoping that these changes will help me reduce the mileage deficit once I hit the flat lands in a few days time.

At the summit of Berthoud Pass, Chef Stephen cooked a full English breakfast using some of the ingredients so kindly brought by John yesterday. Black pudding, proper bacon, eggs, beans and tomatoes made it a true breakfast of champions. 

I met the Support Team (Shelli and Chef Stephen) 5 miles down the other side of Berthoud Pass. They looked worn out by the time I got to them. They had done a tremendous job taking loads of photos and getting the RV safely up the pass.

The other side of Berthoud Pass was long and winding with several hairpin bends. The traffic was light and, once again, it was a real pleasure to be running in such beautiful surroundings.

After 24.6 miles of running, I said farewell to the Arapaho National Forest soon after I reached the bottom of Berthoud Pass. The last few days in Colorado have been spent in some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen. This truly is a beautiful place in the Summer.

Sadly, I will be leaving the Rocky Mountains tomorrow and will be within touching distance of Denver. Wednesday will see me running through Denver and onto the dreaded route 36. I'll be spending over 1000 miles on that road. In some ways the physical battle is over and the real mental battle is about to begin.

Finally, I'll leave you with an image of today's elevation profile and one of the climb that I found on the internet.