Thursday, September 24, 2009

Return to Stone Mountain

I drove to Stone Mountain with every intention of kicking it's butt, however, my butt was what got kicked. My excuses are numerous: it was hotter than last time, it was more humid than last time, I was slightly dehydrated, I think I'm on the verge of overtraining, and I went up too fast during my first ascent. In fact, my first up and down time was a full two minutes faster than it was two weeks ago. But boy did I pay the price the second time up. I could tell you that the reason I stopped several times was to take some pictures, but that would be a lie. The fact is, I was totally pooped. Hopefully I learned some things from today about pacing up steep climbs that I can use in a little more than two weeks. It was also good for me to practice keeping going even when my legs felt like lead. Good thing its almost taper time, I think this is the first time I've actually looked forward to the taper.

Here are the pictures:

This doesn't look too bad, just a little hike in the woods.

Now its getting steeper.

Are we there yet?

Cheaters getting off the gondola.

The rewarding view after getting to the top. Its a little too hazy in this picture, but that's the Atlanta skyline way down below.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hill Repeats

Yesterday I ran what I thought at the time (notice the past tense) was a great hill workout. There is a half mile hill (.47 miles according to Garmin) that climbs 100 feet. My calculator says that is about a 4.0 incline. My plan was to run up twice, power walk up once, and repeat for a total of an hour and 40 minutes. I ran down the hill at a medium pace for recovery. Keep in mind that less than two years ago, I couldn't make it up this hill once without maxing out my heart rate and being forced to walk.

My times for the uphill repeats were:
5:16 (11:01 pace) (My first marathon was 11:24 pace on a flat course)
5:39 (11:47 pace)
7:31 (15:49 pace) (Power walk which was faster than the pace I'll have to maintain at my upcoming 50K)
5:26 (11:26 pace)
5:40 (11:55 pace)
7:37 (16:04 pace)
5:41 (12:01 pace)
5:37 (11:53 pace)

I did 8.57 miles total in 1:40 for an average pace of 11:40. I was very happy with the result, especially since the temperature was 80 degrees with high humidity.

Then I read my brother's race report from the Superior Trail 50 mile race he completed this weekend.

Then I got an email from Susan Donnelly who is race directing the Cumberland Trail 50K I am running in about 3 weeks. She also ran at Superior, but she ran the 100 mile option, this after running the Mont Blanc 166K a mere two weeks prior to that. I had asked her, if she happened to run into my brother, to casually mention to my brother that her race was much tougher, but to not tell me if it actually was. (You know, kind of get some sibling one-upmanship) She did look for my brother, but since they were running at different times, they never did get to meet each other. Then, apparently she forgot about the not telling me if it actually was tougher part. Here a few quotes from her email. "Believe me, your race will be a comparable challenge to his. They have an easier course." "It's going to be a small, intimate group (15 with several more possibles, only one other woman) of really good runners" (the bolding is mine). At least I've got second place female locked up!

This will definitely be my most challenging run to date. I'm looking forward with anticipation and a whole lot of trepidation. I'm working on a list of goals for this race which I will post in the future. (One of them is: Don't get eaten by a bear)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm In!

I wasn't even drinking an adult beverage at the time, but I've registered for the 50 mile option of the Umstead 100 next March. Good thing I type fast, because apparently it sold out in less than 10 minutes. This ultra thing is getting to be thing for me, even folks at work are asking about when my next crazy endeavor is. Every race I seem to try some new or more difficult, where will it end, who knows?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Now I'm Scared

Since the 50K I'm running next month promises not only hills, but mountains, I figured I better get some hill training under my belt. When I was flying last week, I noticed that Stone Mountain (the world's largest 2nd place trophy) looked pretty vertical and wondered if there were any trails up it. So, I checked it out on the internet and sure enough, there was a trail that went all the way to the top. From the website, it looked to be a little over a mile with about 600' of elevation gain. From what I've learned about the Cumberland Trail 50K, the climb up Cross Mountain is 1900' of elevation gain, three times the Stone Mountain climb!

This morning the weather looked good, so I decided to drive up there and give power hiking up a mountain a try. First I had to battle Atlanta morning rush hour traffic. I finally arrived and decided I would go up and down the mountain three times. That would give me a total climb equal to the first climb on my 50K. The first part wasn't too bad, and I easily maintained the 19:20 pace that I'll have to average to make the time cutoffs. However, the trail quickly became more technical with rocks and roots, and then became very steep. There is one section that is so steep, they have handrails to hold on to. I didn't use them on the way up, but I did use them on the way down to keep from falling. The first time up took me 23:28 and was at a 22:15 pace with 680' of climb. The trip down wasn't a whole lot faster, since it was too technical, too steep, or both to get going very fast. The downhill took me 17:53 which was a 17:17 pace. Second time up was 23:27 pace and down was 17:42 pace. Third time, I went only 3/4 mile up (but it did include the steepest part) and pace was 23:38 up and 17:38 down. Overall I covered 5.65 miles in 1:54:44 for a 20:18 pace.

Here's where the scary part comes in. I have to cover 31 miles in 10 hours which is the aforementioned 19:21 pace. As you can see, my average pace this morning was about a minute slower. I'm hoping that there will be some runnable sections on the course to make up some time, because if it is all technical ups and downs, I'm going to be in big trouble! I plan on doing this at least one more time in the next month, along with the little ups and downs in my neighborhood.

For anyone interested here is what Mr Garmin said my run looked like:

Oh, and next time I'll try to remember my camera, the views from the top of the mountain were incredible.