On the Trail: The second wave
PIKES PEAK, Colo. I fretted about being in the second wave of the Pikes Peak Ascent – a half-marathon with 7,800 feet of vertical. I even dreamed about the second wave. Somehow I had signed myself up wrong; the mistake couldn’t be taken back, so I had to run behind the first wave made up of hundreds of people starting only 30 minutes ahead. I figured that if I were going to run the time I would like to, then I would have to pass somewhere in the vicinity of 700 people, all on singletrack trail. But before the Ascent on Saturday, I decided I would just take it easy – still go hard – but just not worry about my time and getting stuck behind people. I knew I wasn’t going to win or anything, so I figured I should just have fun. The morning of the race dawned and, before I knew it, I was running. I felt great through the first 1,500 feet of vertical and took it slow and steady at the beginning. Though 15 or so second wavers had started ahead of me, I passed the front-runner of the second wave near the top of the first steep uphill section. I had only been running 38 minutes when I passed the last person in the first wave and something totally unexpected happened.As I passed more and more people in the first wave, everyone started cheering me on. I had a purple number on and the first wave had blue numbers, so every third or fourth person said something encouraging or just cheered as I went past.The result was that I felt like I was winning the race (though I finished 57th overall) and probably got a whole lot more encouragement than the guy who did win the race. Of course, I had to say, “on your left,” about 400 times, I needed to scramble to get by people, and at the top it became too tight to pass, so I just slowed down and went in odd bursts of speed. But the cheering and friendly comments and, sometimes, moans that someone in the second wave had passed, were enough to keep me light on my feet and very, very happy through the whole race. Odd, after all that worry, that I hadn’t considered how good people can be to one another.
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