Monday, March 05, 2007

Sometimes less is more

This weekend was a little less mileage than planned, but all good running nonetheless. I was originally thinking of doing some longer, flatter distance on Saturday, but some necessary morning Family time combined with my own procrastination required a change of plans. Since my wife decided to go hiking in the afternoon, I decided to join her and get in a shorter (about 3 hour), but hillier run. I'm not sure if it was the extra rest, the intervals I did on Thursday (10x2:00) or my recent addition of strength work, but I felt awesome running up Mission Peak that afternoon. I also made two other changes to my normal routine, running in my road shoes and starting up the peak via the alternate start on the Peak Meadow Trail. This trail starts a little steeper, but eventually levels out and is more "runnable" than the direct route. It is also a little bit longer taking a over 2 miles where the main trail takes just 1.5. This left me feeling a bit fresher at the start.

As I approached the Grove Trail heading up to the saddle, I noticed a couple of mountain bikers ahead of me, one of which was struggling. I couldn't resist, but kicking it in a bit to try and catch them. I passed the first guy before the saddle and managed to nab the lead biker just before he crested the hill at Ohlone Trail marker #5. I still remember back when I was a mountain biker being passed on some brutal uphill in Joseph Grant Park by some studly trail runner who went cruising past me. While I still don't think I quite measure up to the image I recall of that runner, it did feel good to be on the other side of the table. Rather than tiring me out, this extra push actually made me feel stronger. I powered on around the backside of the peak to the water spigot for a refill and then wasted no time heading up to the top which I tagged and then hurried off towards Monument Peak. My road shoes were definitely feeling better than my normal trail runners on the downhill even if not quite as stable. I passed the bikers again and then continued to "play tag" with them as we both headed out on the rolling hills of the Ridge Trail that eventually heads down to Ed Levin Park. This is one of my favorite stretches of local trail due to the runnable terrain and feeling of remoteness.

I've run the route many times including the full loop from my house up Mission then over to Ed Levin and back home. However, I had never been up to Monument Peak. In fact, I wasn't even sure exactly which peak it was. I hooked up with something called the Sierra Trail and went up one peak, but I didn't think that was it. I then went along the Monument Peak Road which I figured must take me to the top. I think this second peak which had a bunch of interesting rock formations on it was Monument. However, I crested one more little peak before heading back down the Ridge Trail to head back. All this time, I was still feeling strong. Furthermore, my feet still felt good even though I was pounding pretty hard on some of the downhill. I think my road shoes are the way to go when the trail isn't too muddy or technical. I managed to get back to the water spigot with just a droplet left in my single bottle. By the time I came back around Mission, the sun was beginning to set. Saturday couldn't have been more clear and beautiful. However, since it was starting to get dark and I would be pushing my 3 hour limit, I decided to head straight down the main trail back to the car where my wife was now huddled inside reading a book. From her report, she powered through her hike faster than expected, but was enjoying the reading time.

All in all, the run went better than planned (OK, so it wasn't really much planned). I think it is around 15.5 miles (I measured it as 15.3 at the USATF site, but I was pretty lazy with my points). I estimate my overall pace to be a bit below 11 min/mi which is rare for me when running Mission Peak, it is usually in the 11-12+ min/mi range. Plan for Sunday was to just get a couple hour run in. Next weekend I will hit a longer flat run.

No comments: