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.


johnmaas said...

That's going to be a tough course, but don't worry so much about your pace going up and down the mountain. It appears that you will have 1900' of climb and drop over 6 miles. You do the mountain twice, taking up 12 miles of the 50K. The rest of the course should have some runnable sections that you can run/walk 13-15 minute miles. As long as you do not blow yourself up on the steep grades, you should be able to make cutoffs.
Stone Mountain looks like a great place to work on your hill technique.

David Ray said...

That last climb up Stone Mtn is unlike anything you're likely to experience in the 50K.

Probably. :)

I think you'll be fine.

Jess said...

I have been to Stone Mountain a few times, and it is steep. Of course, I took the little gondelier thing up there, I didn't power walk it!

bigRahn ( said...

Not sure how it compares to Stone Mountain (having never run/hiked up it), but Kennesaw Mountain has some good climbing on it. Head up and down the Pigeon Trail a couple times, and I'd guess you'd be ready for your race.

Or if you want to head into the mountains, there's plenty of places to get some hills in.

Heck, plan ahead, and I'm sure a gang of people would be willing to show you around. (Right, David? :)

Run 100 Miles said...

You'll do fine in the 50K

Three trips up Stone Mountain tells me you are ready now.

Keep training and you'll surprise yourself at Susan's race!