Sunday, February 08, 2009

Return to the hills

I ran with my mistress this afternoon. No, I didn't bump into Olga at yet another race. I'm talking about my long-time, on again, off again, tumultuous affair with one Miss Shawn Peak. She was quite angry with how long I'd been away and simultaneously tried to knock me over and give me frostbite. I tried to explain my absence, but she was in quite the gloomy mood. Her sister Allison looked just as angry so I passed her by and just went for a short trip to the Peak family Monument. I also visited their friend Sue Knoll who offered a bit warmer reception, but I really couldn't stay long as I had business to finish up with the Peaks.

OK, bad puns aside, I had great success with my first hilly trail run in more than 3 months. I started from my house and ran the roads up to the Stanford Ave staging area before heading up the Valley View Trail to Horse Heaven. I didn't actually hit Mission Peak right away, but headed straight over to my favorite trail that connects with Monument. I then went up to the main peak on the return before heading down the back side for a trip to Sunol and back. It was fabulous to return to my "backyard" trails. It was cold and VERY windy in parts, but the rain didn't arrive until I was all done. That always happens when I am prepared with my rain jacket. The only bad part was the inevitable 3.5 mile return home on roads. I always regret that bit when I chose not to drive. Maybe I should carry a pair of skates and stash them somewhere near the parking lot.

When all was said and done, the total was 27.35 miles with over 5400ft of climbing. My goals was to get do somewhere between 25 and 30 miles and I couldn't have come too much closer than I did. I wore my heart rate monitor to force myself to take the pace easy and the result was a nice 6 hours 13 minutes on my feet. The calf held up beautifully. The HRM really helped to keep me disciplined and I was still able to lose myself in the run especially on the downhill bits where I didn't have to worry about my effort level.

Strictly speaking, to follow Maffetone, you should not do any high intensity running during your base building and that includes hills. Basically, your heart rate is one of the best measures of effort and if you cannot keep it within the zone you are either running the hills too hard or are on hills that are just plain too steep. However, being as I am scheduled to do a 100-miler that includes over 28,000ft of climbing in just over a month, holding off on the hill training is not an option. My plan was to still keep my effort level fairly easy, keeping my HR in zone as much as possible. I gave myself a little extra room on the hills trying to maintain 150 or below. I knew that if I just let myself push it that I could still keep a reasonable average (it was 141-bpm for this run) since the downhills will make up for the uphills, but that isn't really in the spirit of base building. So, I set some rules for myself.

I did allow for an exception if a hill was simply too steep, I would ignore my HR, but switch to power-hiking. Even though it would sometimes raise my heart into the upper 150s, I know that it is crucial to work on hard uphill walking for my 100s. Experience has taught me that if I walk easy on the uphills in training, that come race day I will walk even easier (aka: very slow). I worked on finding a strong, maintainable effort on the hills and also focused on my breathing patterns to keep my HR in check. It didn't go too well in the first few hills, but by the time I was coming up from Sonol, I found a good rhythm. I also re-discovered my uphill shuffle and worked on transitioning between shuffle and hike as the incline changed.

All in all, I am calling it a successful return. I feel that I am on my way, but still need a few more good, long runs and some work on the very steep hills. Mission peak has a couple of short (.25mi or so) beasts that are like 30%+ grade. I am going to work out a loop that goes up these and down a smoother path to set up some repeats.


Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Glad to hear the hill training has commenced. I thought about you today while we were doing Adam's Fat Ass Trail Marathon through Sierra Azul. Those hills were brutal! Just look at the elevation profile If you want another tough training route, go check it out.

Eudemus said...

Thanks Cynthia. I haven't run down there in Sierra Azul, but I am very familiar with those hills as they were a staple of mine back in my mountain biking days. Great single track and some brutal steep stuff.

Jo Lynn said...

That was very funny, your introduction. It's true, she can be wicked!

Catra said...

Steve glad to hear you're coming back. If you wanna come out Friday to meet up with me, Jerry, Mylinh and Joe we are running the Ohlone 100k. We are starting at 6am and plan to be back to Fremont in 18-20 hours. You could run out to us if you're bored after work Friday night ;)

Eudemus said...

Catra, Jerry told me about your planned 100K when I met him out there on the trail. My son will most likely have a basketball game on Friday night (playoffs) so it isn't really an option for me. Instead, I am signed up for the Sequoia 50K and will probably do some miles before/after the race to get at around 40.