Friday afternoon revealed how hard my heart can actually beat, and how quickly I can make it jump from resting to max. Fun times!
My friend, Martha, grew up in Manitou Springs, CO – in other words, the mountains were her backyard, her running playground (awesome!). When she heard we had an open day on Friday, nothing to do, she immediately suggested “The Incline!”.
What’s this? Incline? Near Pike’s Peak? Tell me more…
Originally this was a cable car that took tourists up the side of Rocky Mountain until it was closed in 1990. Since then the rails have been removed but the wooden ties remained to prevent erosion of the hill creating a steep trail that appears from the bottom as an endless stairway to heaven.
Hiking up is pretty straightforward since the Incline is a perfectly straight line up the hill at an average grade of 40%.
Straightforward? Yup. Easy? So far from it.
I started the day with a 6-mile run; my logic being that this Incline thing could possibly stir up quite a bit of lactic acid. I’d rather tackle my step-back week “Long” run before that happens.
We drove to Manitou, parked & looked around.
The start of the Incline isn’t too far, but also isn’t visible, from the parking lot. Sneaky trick they’ve got going there, you’re not really sure what you’re getting into…
Going up. (Source: Colorado Springs Real Estate Connection)
…until you reach this, and look at what’s ahead of you.
We started climbing; Martha’s description of a “stairmaster effect” was pretty accurate. You just keep climbing up, keep breathing harder and harder, and start sweating within minutes. Then you think, “Holy crap, this is hard.”
Then you turn around (carefully, don’t tumble down), and you see this:
It’s both unnerving and captivating to see what’s below. (Source)
Along the way, we stopped a few times for a breather. Chris has only been in Colorado for two weeks; I’ve got no excuse other than it’s never easy to grab oxygen from the air as you gain hundreds of feet in elevation within minutes.
We reached what’s referred to as the “Bail out point”, and did exactly that! From there, it’s only about 0.4 mi to the top (or so I’ve read), but that stretch is twice as steep as where you start. It’s daunting. It was hot!
Whatever. We saw a trail, and we took it!
This trail was perfect for running – a few sharp turns / switch backs, but relatively smooth & not too steep. We jumped around some rocks, rounded the corners with caution, and kept flying down.
It felt amazing. Trail running should be a better friend of mine.
All in all: 6 mile run, 1,000+ ft gain on a railroad-style stair-master, and a trail run to top it all off.
Yup, you were a fun one, Friday!