WE Fit 50 Pikes Peak Ultra Race Report

WE Fit 50 Pikes Peak Ultra Race Report

by

Jessica Beecham

 

The weeks leading into WE Fit 50 sponsored by National Federation of the Blind were jam packed for the WE Fit Wellness team. I was traveling for work for the majority of days between the 8th through the 28th. Early on the 28th, I headed back to Denver to rest for less than 24 hours before racing in the Pikes Peak Ultra, my first 50 mile race.

When I got back to Denver I received a huge surprise! My dad knocked on the door of my Uber. The WE Team worked to bring him in from Nashville to surprise me. As you can see in the video below, the surprise was a huge success. And I was thrilled that my dad would be a part of my race day journey!

When I committed to training for the Pikes Peak Ultra and launching the WE Fit 50 fundraising campaign, I knew that running the miles would lead to some great insight. Here is some of what the day brought to light!

Team Work Makes the Dream Work

I started out this crazy adventure with a lot of unknowns. I had never run 50 miles. The trails were very technical, which meant learning a lot of new alternative techniques. There was the fueling and hydration plan to think about. I journeyed through all of the unknowns, inner struggles, bad training days, and self-doubt thanks to a strong team. I had the support of WE Fit 50 title sponsors National Federation of the Blind, my family throughout the US who not only believe in me but believe in the capacity of all blind people. The glowing example of this support in Colorado were my friends from the Colorado Center for the Blind and National Federation of the Blind of Colorado. I had the support of coach Karen Kantor who always just says yes and starts writing up the training plan no matter what crazy thing I decide to do. The default of our team is to say yes first and then figure out how to make it happen! I had the amazing support of the WE Fit Wellness Team. My team is always behind me. Kevan, Bridget, Kevin, Maggie, and Kelsey are on it. They made sure my dad got to Colorado, all of my fuel and supplies were waiting for me when I got home and they rooted for me every step of the way. My Achilles Pikes Peak team does so much for the community. They helped me meet guides Tim Gore and Denise Flory as well as relief guides Phil Goulding and Renee Renn. As I have said many times before, I could not get to the starting line, let alone the finish line without my Achilles Pikes Peak friends. My guide team was on point all day long. It is tough to guide through a race that requires constant chatter. Rock, root, step, drop off, wash out, rocks everywhere, and stay to the left or you will die, are just a few of the many commands that I heard all day long. My race day crew, which consisted of Karen, Dad, Kevin, Kevan, and Phil used their super human powers to get to places on the course that should not have been possible. They were amazing and 100 percent Johnny on the spot. Even though there was a mix up with one of my drop bags, I had absolutely everything I needed right when I needed it!

People are Good and Generous

With all of the craziness going on in the world, sometimes we can forget how generous people are. My Pikes Peak Ultra WE Fit 50 adventure reminded me of the goodness all around! Tons of volunteers braved the rain and storms that were on and off throughout the day to make sure those of us who were racing had everything we needed. One volunteer covered me with her jacket so that I would not get too cold while I was changing socks. Countless people donated to the WE Fit 50 fundraiser including our corporate sponsors National Federation of the Blind, Yorkshire Veterinary Hospital, Colorado Center for the Blind, National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, and LaBarre Law! Thanks to the kindness and generosity of my community, I was able to raise over $8,000 for the WE Fit Wellness program. The rain made the trails even more technical than usual but Mad Moose race directors Justin and Denise Ricks kept the course open after the official cutoff time so that I could cross the finish line.  My primary guides Denise and Tim ran 50 miles with me even though they both had other races on their schedule for the summer. My friend Renee Renn who stepped in as a relief guide for the last miles of the race brought a whole aid station with her just on the off chance that any of us might need something. Tons of friends waited in the rain for us to cross the finish line. These are just a few of the stories that reminded me throughout the day that I am lucky to be in a community full of people with huge hearts!

Shake It Off

Tim & Jess Punching her bib. The trail beneath their feet has water running throughout the entire trail with many parts of it washed out.

A 50 mile race is a great place to learn how to let go and shake it off. Miles 11-16 were tough miles for me under normal circumstances. They were all climb and because of the rain that had been falling, the trails were in much rougher condition than usual. The section took longer than I expected and I knew I was not on track for my pace goal. This was the first time, but not the last time during this race that I would have to alter my expectations, let go of negativity, and shake it off. After tons of training to become more efficient at climbing and descending Mt. Rosa, I was horribly disappointed when the course was rerouted due to lightning. Although Rosa was my nemesis and I was looking forward to conquering her, nothing I could say or do would have made the lightning go away. At the end of the day, small hiccups or even personal shortcomings do not matter when you look at the bigger picture. I finished a 50 mile race which is an amazing accomplishment.

Bring On the Rain

When you are committed to a goal, little things like rain and thunder do not dampen the day. Although there were times I was hurting and times I was tired of running I can say that the day was overall fun. I had a good time and enjoyed the race. It did not matter that the weather was not perfect. It was part of the adventure and made the day unique.

Enjoy the Ride

I am not a fast runner, so it was important to find joy in the day because it was a long one! I had so much fun being in nature, seeing friends along the way, hearing the cheers of volunteers and crew as we approached the aid stations, and knowing I was getting closer to meeting my goal with every step I took. The day was an amazing adventure from beginning to end. Looking back, I can find joy even in the most difficult moments. During one of the more technical sections of the course when I was feeling a bit frustrated because I could not move more quickly, I was passed by friends who brought a smile to my face. When we were coming down from St. Mary’s in the pouring rain, our team taught a new friend to guide which was loads of fun. At mile 45, I was able to snag a hug from my friend Renee “The Hugger” which gave me a little boost to help me to continue putting one foot in front of the other. When I got home and was in so much pain that I cried as I walked into the house, I took great joy in knowing I had just completed my most epic adventure thus far! It was one heck of a ride and in one way or another, I enjoyed every minute of it!

I am

With every new adventure I learn more about myself, and the person I am. Some of the things that I learn are good and some of them are things that I need to work on but they are all a part of the person I am today. I am strong. I am tough. I am persistent. I am sometimes frustrated. I am sometimes moody and emotional. I am a hard worker. I am able to learn from mistakes. I am able to work on character flaws. I am goal oriented. I am silly. I am an ultra-runner!

 

Thank you to everyone who played a role in making the Pikes Peak Ultra WE Fit 50 sponsored by National Federation of the Blind one of the best days of my life.

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