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.