Sunday, May 10, 2009

Making Friends with the Hills!

This has been a crazy, yet exciting weekend. I successfully rode my bike at South Mountain, which is a level 1 of 10, but definitely more than the canals, and had a great trail run!
After having a great homework practice on my bike Friday morning, I was excited, yet prepared to be completely humbled when I met with Joanie and her man to ride the desert classic trail. The first section was fairly flat and not at all rocky. There were some patches of sand but it was totally rideable. It did have that tricky uphill thing, where you're basically riding uphill the whole way, but you can't precisely tell that on the way up, so you're just wondering why your legs hurt after five minutes of riding... the second portion had some "serious" hills (I'm sure my definition will change) but for me, they were absolutely scary. Most of the hills were in and out of washes, so they were steep down and quick steep back up. I was very conscious of sticking my butt out off the back of the bike to ensure that I didn't flip over on the down, and held on to my rear brake basically the whole time down, which meant that I had no momentum to go up the hill. This meant that I would come down slowly, pedal my heart out and stop halfway up the hill, bail off the bike and walk up the rest of the hill. Joanie was great and encouraging, and totally didn't appear to mind stopping every time I had to walk my bike up a hill. We road out and back, and on the way back, I tried to ride the brake a little less, and I only had to get off and push twice, which I think is good progress. The down was SOOOO fun, because that sinister quiet uphill became a totally fun but not at all scary downhill. There was probably a mile stretch where I never even peddled, I just wound with the curves in the road, stood up on my pedals and enjoyed the ride down.
I left the run feeling exhalted and empowered, and determined that with practice I can achieve this goal. I WILL be able to ride at Papago. I will be able to ride at Del Valle. Even better I really enjoyed it. I am feeling very lucky that I chose to challenge myself, because I'm really having FUN out there - and isn't that what it's supposed to be about?
Of course the mood was shattered when I was chatting incessantly to Joanie and her man while taking my bike apart, and then realized that I had locked my keys in my car. I'll save you the long story, but it involved a hammer, and I didn't get home until 11pm on Friday night.
This morning, after Lilac's bachelorette party, I decided to get out and run the South Mountain trail again. I just want to do it consistently in the event that it actually someday gets easier. That's my goal. Keep running the mountain trails in the heat, and road races earlier in the morning will become easy, right? right?
Two weeks ago I ran this trail (I blogged about it) after a two week travel hiatus and about 11.5 hours of sleep each night during that time. The up hurt. It was a good challenge, but I just felt woefully out of shape and tired. The down was good, and I finished the four mile out and back in 1:28 minutes.
Today, again, less than 6 hours of sleep two nights in a row, long business trip, yadda yadda, oh and those B12 shots... It felt about the same effort level to me, at least I didn't feel quite as exhausted at each hill climb, but it was a tough up, and a fun/tough down like normal, except it only took me 1:16!!! 12 freaking minutes off a 4 mile hike/run?? WOO HOOO!!! Lady Tiara is shaking in her slippers right now, since we made a bet over best PR in the Summer Series races.
Now of course hiking/trail running is a LOT different from road races, and since I was oxygen deprived, the climbing was really the hardest thing for me - the muscles are being asked to move mountains, without air. However, I was absolutely shocked to see the 12 minute differential, and it definitely put the icing on the cake for the weekend for me!
This week's trail tip - Make friends with the hills. I've been consciously saying this to myself at each hill that I traverse "make friends with the hill. Little baby steps on the way up, so the hill doesn't even know that you are there, and then big bounding steps down, so that you can run away quick!" It does seem to take some of the effort out. I think our natural reaction is to try to push up the hill (which is exhausting) and then are afraid to charge the dowhill and lengthen our strides. This is going to be my main focus for a while.


  1. Shakin' in my running shoes!! :) Way to go!!!!

  2. i've always wanted to run south mountain. i've ridden my roadbike down there (from here) but never run it. as soon as i am running again - you and i have a date, k?