Finito. Finally!

Last Saturday marked the beginning of the end. . .of training, that is. The end of the hard part of my plan for sure, and the rite of passage to the wonderful world of tapering. Yessssssss! It’s been an amazing summer in so many ways, but it’s been exhausting at the same time. I’ve been looking forward to tapering for what feels like quite a while.

One more hard run, and you’re there!

“Hard” for this run didn’t mean our typical 2,000ish feet of elevation gain. Instead, our hard run last weekend meant a long distance between 10,000 and 11,000 feet above sea level. One thousand feet of elevation gain might not sound like much compared to where we’ve been in the past few months; but at that high an elevation to begin with, you will feel ever bit of it. And I did.

It was pretty amazing, really. I was shocked at how I could go from feeling perfectly fine and enjoying a beautiful trail for the first time one instant to feeling my quads burning and out of breathe the next after a few steps of even the slightest incline. Ugh, so happy this is the LAST one. I don’t know how much longer I could do this!

Had I been getting enough oxygen to my brain at any point on the trail, I might have remembered how many times I said this to myself. I didn’t.

After a handful of mosquito bites apiece for Dakin, JD, and I; listening carefully for mountain bikers flying down the single-track trail between the sound of your own deep breaths; and, of course, views that make you say “Oh, wow” for just a hair over six and a half miles and just under two hours and forty minutes out then back, I was done.

Absolutely gorgeous. That is all.

Absolutely gorgeous. That is all.

This run was a tough one. Elevation training’s no joke, kids! Plus, it was my fifth day of running in a row – not typical but necessary last week. This one whooped my behind, no doubt; but I still felt pretty good about it in the end.

When I got back to Dakin’s car, my legs were pretty well tapped OUT for the week. And as good as that tired feeling that comes with a strong finish of a week-long self-imposed mini running boot camp can be, the mental sigh of relief and subdued smile that spread across your face when you realize that you’ve earned the right to enjoy the rest of the weekend without running another step feels even better.

The hard part of my training was officially over. FINITO. All that’s left are plain ol’ miles at what should feel like a good but relaxed pace. I have pretty much done all I can to physically train for the Pikes Peak Marathon at this point; and that was worth striking a pose – in my new shorty short shorts, no less - to remember:


Just in case you were wondering, you can’t get much more ‘Colorado’ than to run the Colorado Trail while wearing a Colorado tee.

And, now that the real physical part of my training was over, it was time to start doing some serious mental prepping for the race. The second I start thinking about how insane it is to climb and to descend a fourteener for a first-ever marathon attempt truly is, I get a little nervous. Mental prep? Ha! That’s where the real training starts. Can’t I just run Kenosha Pass again? That might be easier. . .

Melissa Mincic, Ph.D., a long-time road and trail runner, conducts applied child development research and works to influence child development policy at the University of Denver. Follow Melissa on Twitter at @nerdinrunshoes.

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