General Summary: I didn't have grand expectations going into this race, my eighth Pikes Peak Marathon (I've run three ascents and two doubles). I've only run to the top three times this year, twice from Elk Park and once from Devil's Playground. The last time I went up on the Elk Park Trail I struggled in the last three miles.
I started off slowly and managed my pace well, given my level of fitness and general dotage. I reached A-Frame in 2:35 and the summit in 3:47. Coming off the summit I ran very well, passing a dozen or so runners on the return to A-Frame. On the long traverse to the Bottomless Pit Sign I caught me toe once, but recovered, then I out and out fell. Got up dusted myself off with minimal damage, only to fall for real just past the Bottomless Pit Sign. Now that hurt! I bruised my ribs and my legs started cramping as I lay on the ground. Finally I got up and started to walk it out before starting a slow jog. Any step or drop in the trail brought pain to my side, but when the trail was smooth I managed a good pace, reaching eight minute miles on the lower trail. Somehow I held off three other age-group oldsters hot on my trail to sneak in there for 2nd place 55-59 year age group: the three clumped in within three minutes of me.
Things Done Right: Hydrated and fueled very well. I wore a pack with bladder (Cytomax), and carried two gels, a package of shotblocks, and ate about seven S-Caps. I also drank water at nearly all the aide stations. Didn't bonk!
Things Done Wrong: Got careless on the way down and fell too many times. Ouch!
Any Other Stuff: The race staff did an excellent job as usual and thanks to the volunteers! Also, a shout out to Friends of the Peak who had two work days in the week before the races to assuage the effects of the recent rains on the lower trail.