A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Incline

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Let me start off by saying running The Incline was the hardest physical thing I have ever done. Paul says, "Harder than PR'ing in the mile?" Answer: Yes. Because the mile only really sucked for maybe the last 2 minutes. The Incline sucked for.... ummm... anything after .33 miles!

Not sure what the incline is? Never fear! I will copy paste some info for you from Wikipedia!

"The Manitou Springs Incline, also known as the Manitou Incline or simply the Incline, is a popular hiking trail rising above Manitou Springs, Colorado, near Colorado Springs. The trail is the remains of a former 3 ft narrow gauge funicular railway whose tracks washed out during a rock slide in 1990. The Incline is famous for its sweeping views and steep grade, as steep as 68% in places, making it a fitness challenge for locals in the Colorado Springs area. The incline gains over 2,000 feet of elevation in less than one mile."

I was extremely excited to do this run. I left my hotel in Manitou Springs around 7:30 and headed toward The Incline. I wasn't quite sure where I was going or where to park, but I finally figured it out and ended up parking about a mile away. (Parking is very limited. However, it did provide me with a good 1 mile warm up and 1 mile cool down.) After I put money in the meter, I realized I FORGOT MY HYDRATION PACK!!! All I had with me was a 12 oz bottle of water! That was never going to get me to the top of The Incline and back down! Luckily, for a mere $3.59, I could buy a huge bottle of water at The Incline Base Camp. Sure, I would have to carry the water in my hands, but that was better than dying of thirst! (I didn't have time to drive back to the hotel because we had Cog Railway tickets for noon, so I was on a time crunch!!!)

The incline is NOT for the faint of heart. Yet there were all different kinds of people on the trail- kids, teenagers, old, young, dogs, dads carrying babies...I started out at my normal "fast" walking pace, but it was definitely not something I would keep up for the long haul. My goal was to make it to 1/4 mile before taking a break and a drink of water, but I only made it to .2.  I took another break at .33 miles.... and this was probably the least steep part of The Incline!

Still looking relatively fresh.

At the 1/2 mile mark (oh boy did it wake me a lot of energy to get there!!!!) I took a pretty long break to snap some pics and take a lot of drinks. I simply could not breathe! It was a combination of the altitude and the fact that it is freaking hard to walk up stair steps for a 1/2 mile!) I wondered if people actually RAN up this thing... I didn't understand how it would be possible to run. No one on The Incline was running the entire time I was on it.

I had to keep turning around to look at the view- it was AMAZING.

Starting to really feel it...

From the 1/2 mile point, I took a break every .05 miles. I know that sounds like NOTHING, but it was all I could do to make it .05 miles without another break. It was starting to get REALLY steep, and the freaking false summit (even though I was aware of it) was messing with my mind!)

While the beginning part was not super steep, at this part, there were areas I literally had to CLIMB up to the next step. I was a little dizzy... MY KNEE FELT AWESOME THOUGH! I think it was because I wore my brace, like my doctor recommended.

For the last .15 miles, I trucked along without stopping. I met a girl who had just done The Incline last week and she was really motivating! We talked for maybe 3 minutes- in between huffs and puffs.

I wanted to puke due to the elevation and due to the BO!!!! THE GUYS STANK. I think some of the guys on the incline that day decided "To hell with deodorant!" So I got to smell the lovely smell of onion subs the whole way up. BLECH! (Because I am sure I smelled like sunshine and rainbows!)


 When I finally made it to the top, I felt so accomplished. I DID IT! Most people took a break at the top. I snapped some pictures, soaked in the experience, and then headed down the Barr Trail. 

Crowds at the top

I did it!!!!

If you continue up the Barr Trail, it takes you to the summit of Pikes Peak. It is actually the route the Pikes Peak Marathon/Half Marathon takes. But if you take the Barr Trail down, it is a series of switchbacks that takes you back down the mountain. It would be too dangerous to go down the incline due to the steep grade.

The Barr trail was BEAUTIFUL. There were so many times I would round a corner, get a new view, and just go, "WOW!" right out loud! The Barr Trail was even cooler than The Incline!

Running selfie!!!

I really felt like I was running faster than a 13 minute mile. Hell, I was going DOWNHILL.
I guess I wasn't...

Since I wore my knee brace and my knee felt STRONG the entire time and the rest of the day. My hip was tight after, even though I stretched and used my rogue ball. Paul rubbed my back later that night, so that felt good!

The grand total (according to my Garmin) was .88 up The Incline and 2.59 down the Barr Trail.... plus 2 miles total for warming up and cooling down. Definitely the most taxing thing my body has done in quite awhile!

I am so glad I did this. It was wonderful and it sucked all at the same time. I saw such beauty! And I felt so accomplished at the end. If you ever make the trip to the Denver area, I highly recommend doing The Incline!

Have you ever run The Incline?
What is the hardest physical thing you have ever done?
Where is the most beautiful place you have ever run?


  1. Wow! I have only read articles about that--I can only imagine. I wonder how much of it is the elevation. I know from hiking Mount Washington (only something around 6200ft) I have to stop frequently to catch my breath. Good job, glad your knee was asymptomatic! Great pictures!

    1. I think altitude affects people differently, but I do know it affects me A LOT! Sometimes I would get winded just walking.

  2. That sounds so tough but what an awesome experience!

  3. OMG, I can see where this was such a challenge (physically, and keeping from vomiting from the smell...lol). The views are beautiful though!

    1. I am glad I could get across how hard it was! Sometimes it is hard to put exactly what you are feeling into writing.

  4. It looks like it was so worth the views at the top - looks gorgeous!! I can't believe you RAN it - what a beast. I definitely would have softballed it and went for a "hike" instead, hehe.

    The elevation/altitude change can be killer. I remember from living in Denver for AmeriCorps, people actually got really sick from trying to adjust to the altitude.

    So happy your knee felt good! PROGRESS!

    1. Sorry I hope I didn't misrepresent it- I may have used the word "run" sometimes but I did not run UP, I did run DOWN. It would have been impossible for me to RUN up that and I didn't see anyone running it while I was there. Some were running up the Barr Trail though.

  5. The incline is nothing....totally kidding lol. I've only read about it but it would be an amazing trip to go out and crawl up that thing. Plus the area is gorgeous, your pictures really show the beauty.

    Hardest thing, last year I did a half marathon trail run. I held my own int he flats but died in the sand and mountains. Toughest physically but man it was worth every second of it.

    1. You always crack me up!

      I was definitely crawling up a couple of those steps. I am glad the pictures could encapsulate the beauty, but there is nothing like seeing it in person.

      Running on sand is NO JOKE, that must have been really hard.

  6. This sounds so cool!! Thank your for sharing! My husband often travels to Denver for work and I might have to join him sometime to do this

    1. You would love it! It is about an hour or so south of Denver in Manitou Springs. Well worth the drive. :)

  7. How intense! I'm glad your knee held up and you accomplished something you were really looking forward to!

  8. CRAZY! Wow, I know this thing must be tough if you found it challenging! I remember reading about Amy at Run Write Hike doing The Incline last year and thinking it sounded like torture.

    SO HAPPY to hear that your knee didn't bother you at all from this!