Persistence Pays Off
By Jessica Beecham
One of my hardest days on the trail was when guide Sheyna Marshall and I set out to do Mt. Rosa for the first time. I knew that Mt. Rosa would be the most technical piece of the Pikes Peak Ultra but I was not too worried. After all, it was less than 4 miles total. Last year I ran up and down Pikes Peak… how bad could this one short stretch be? Well let me tell you, IT WAS BAD.
Mt. Rosa is the most technical climb I have ever done. It is NASTY and full of loose rocks, gravel, and scree. It is steep and unforgiving. There are two places that could be the summit before you actually find the real deal. This one little stretch keeps going like the Energizer bunny. The silver lining of a difficult uphill is usually the awesome downhill. Unfortunately, the trip down was no walk in the park. I fell several times on the slick scree and nearly rolled my ankle on a few rocks for good measure. There was little reprieve at the bottom of Mt Rosa where we should have had a nice downhill stretch through St. Mary’s Falls leading into mile 44, which is very familiar and manageable course terrain. The path down was slick and had several technical sections with rocks and roots that made running a slow go.
By the time we reached the bottom, it had taken us nearly seven hours to complete about 15 miles. Before we ran Mt. Rosa, I felt that finishing in the time cut off of 15 hours was a very reasonable goal. That day, Mt. Rosa crushed my spirit and hope of finishing the race on time. I went home and threw a little one person pity party. Then I remembered an important lesson taught to me by my National Federation of the Blind Family. Giving up never results in change.
During my time working for the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado at the Colorado Center for the Blind, I learned that the best way to learn alternative techniques of blindness is to ask other blind people. I contacted another blind ultra-runner friend Jason Romero. I asked him for suggestions for moving quickly through technical uphill and slick scree filled downhill. He gave me a ton of great advice.
A couple of weeks later, guide Tim Gore and I attempted Rosa round two. I completed the segment in six hours. I was thrilled that we completed the segment an hour faster than my previous attempt. This was not as fast as I need to be on race day, but it reminder that persistence pays off. I was faster than the first time and I was much faster than I would have been if I had given up. I do not know what my results will be on race day but I have renewed faith in my ability to cross the finish line in under 15 hours. Persistence pays off and every step brings me closer to success.
I was reminded of a little poem I read in school by an anonymous author:
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won if he’d stuck it out.
Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are –
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.