Saturday, July 23, 2016

Training on Empty: Chapter 12

Chapter 12 – Brittin Won

“Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must move faster than the lion or it will not survive. Every morning a lion wakes up and it knows it must move faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn’t matter if you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be moving.” – Maurice Greene

Of the seven articles written about me after I won the Pikes Peak Ascent, these two stood out:

The Daily Camera August 1983
Young Runner Hasn’t Any Big Plans – Yet
By Betsy Howard, camera staff writer

Lize Brittin wasn’t too happy Sunday. Her coach didn’t want her to run. The 16-year-old athlete was urged to rest after winning the Pikes Peak Ascent Saturday with a record time of 2 hours, 39 minutes and 44 seconds.
She beat last year’s record of 2:41:06 set by Lynn Bjorklund of New Mexico.
The course, a steep, rocky trail starting at Manitou Springs, climbs 7,700 feet before ending 14.3 miles later at about 14,000 feet.
“We enjoy watching her run,” her father said Sunday as the family relaxed in their Table Mesa home.
But he and his wife, Janine, admitted they were chewing their fingernails as they watched their daughter run because of the physical punishment such a race metes out.
The competition was stiff, too, with Lize racing in a field of 1,200 people-mostly adults. Judy McCreery, 25, of Golden, came in second place for the women, trailing Lize by four minutes. Carl Chester, 29, of Gallup, N.M., placed first among the men with a time of 2:12.54 – 24 minutes ahead of Lize.
“We don’t push her, we don’t try to hold her back,” Wesley Brittin said.
After only 18 months of running, Lize has collected some impressive wins. She placed first in the Coors Light Challenge in Denver and the Flagstaff Run this summer. She also placed ninth in the Bolder Boulder Race May 30, and gathered numerous medals and blue ribbons in other races.
“Even if she did nothing any better, she would still have a wonderful year,” her mother said.
“We’re not talking about the Olympics. It’s too early. She’s so young. So many things can happen. We just go from race to race,” her parents said, talking almost in unison.
Lize collapsed after crossing the finish line Saturday, suffering from leg cramps. But after being given oxygen, she recovered 45 minutes later.
Sunday Lize said her legs still felt a little sore and her calves were stiff, but other than that she was all right and wanted to run.
The toughest part of the course came toward the end; she recalled when she encountered the steepest part of the climb – a series of switchbacks called the Sixteen Steps.
“I kept thinking I had already passed it. There were so many switchbacks. Where I thought I was getting close to the finish I saw the sign, Sixteen Steps. I tried not to panic.
“I enjoyed it so much, no matter how tired I was.”

The Denver Post Running August 1983
Record Time for Brittin at Pikes Peak Ascent

Lize Brittin made her coach look like a clairvoyant.
“She will break the Pikes Peak Ascent record in August,” Roger Briggs predicted six weeks ago of his standout. “She’s training well and might just be the best woman mountain runner in the world at this point.”
Brittin, a junior-to-be at Fairview, this fall, didn’t falter in the face of such lofty predictions.
Last Saturday, the slight youngster trudged up the 14.3-mile Pikes Peak Ascent Race with Briggs alongside her in 2 hours, 39 minutes and 44 seconds to not only win the women’s overall championship but, as Briggs had boldly predicted earlier, break the course record by nearly 90 seconds and become the first female runner to break the 2:40 barrier.
In her eagerness to break the record, Brittin’s early pace was too fast. That caused problems at the finish – a much slower pace and collapse at the finish line. After oxygen was administered to the determined youngster, she said the time was still several minutes slower than she had hoped for.
“She finished three or four minutes slower than she wanted to,” Briggs said. “She was so cranked up at the start that we went out way too fast and I couldn’t hold her back. But that’s still an amazing performance by a 16-year-old girl.”
Brittin’s time broke the old time record of 2:41.06 set by Lynn Bjorklund of New Mexico and was nearly four minutes ahead of this year’s runner-up. It was the first time she had competed in the event near Colorado Springs which features an elevation gain of nearly 8, 000 feet.

Setting the record at the Pikes Peak Ascent.

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