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Golf Course Hill... of DOOM?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

This weekend my wife and i brought our 4.5 month old daughter to see her grandparents, family, and friends in Los Angeles. We left bright and early Saturday morning and planned to leave to return home on Sunday afternoon. I do all of my running in the mornings and as part of my training schedule, Sundays are my long distance run, so that meant that I had to do today's 7 mile run on the hilly streets of La Crescenta.

I used the SparkPeople Fitness Maps route creater to try and calculate how far I would need to run to meet my mileage and found that I would have to run further than I expected. Running around my house is very flat. The most elevation I can gain is about 8 feet on the bridge over the beltway. However, i knew that running 7 miles around La Crescenta was going to involve and undulating landscape with at least one or two real hills with elevation gains of at least 100 feet. I didn't want to wind my way through residential areas of town, so the best three options were routes that I vividly remember from high school - either i would need to run the cross country course in the park, twice, or i would need to choose to run over "Golf Course Hill" or "Hospital Hill."

I finally settled on running an out-and-back that would take me over the top of Golf Course Hill, around an extra loop to increase the length to my requisite 7 miles, and then return me back to my parent's house. Golf Course Hill begins at the parking lot of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course and runs up and over a little pass next to the interstate as it crosses the Verdugo Hills and leaves the Crescenta Valley. To the top of the hill is approximately three quarters of a mile with an elevation gain of 150 feet. We ran this hill regularly in cross-country training and even did 200, 400, 600, 800 meter repeats. Needless to say, I do not have fond memories of this hill, but do know that i would be a good workout for me, now. Having run no hills in Las Vegas, I had all but resigned myself to the slow plod up the hill, but was determined to run the entire way up. I knew it would be difficult to match my usual 11 minute/mile pace, but if anything, i was going to try, and even if i ran 13 minute miles, i was going to run the whole hill and the whole route home. No excuses, if, ands, or buts.

Getting to the hill involved an slow, incremental, uphill climb of 325 feet over two miles, which felt like a bit of a struggle at times and slowly reduced my confidence for the real ascent up "The Hill." Yet, before i knew it, there i was, at the base of the hill. I looked up at my old nemesis, but there was no time to stop to reminisce and get slowly re-acquainted - I had a hill to run. So, up I ran with the short quick strides i learned to use those 20 years ago. My pace was not too fast, but not slow as i waited for my legs to begin complaining about running a steep hill for the first time in forever. I ran, and I ran and I ran... And then I saw the top of the hill not far ahead. I had yet to tire or noticeably slow and instead I sped up as the top neared and the grade lessened and then before I knew it I was cresting the top. I tried to conceal my excitement, but my smile could not be contained. I ran down the other side to my 3 mile turn-around point and then re-crested the hill and soared back down Golf Course Hill. I had conquered. My training was paying off and I could feel it. It felt awesome.

I continued on, and as my run neared the end and i closed in on my parents' house, I checked my watch and it read 68 minutes. This could not be! I must have calculated the mileage wrong! I was confused and disheartened. I racked my brain to quickly try and think of a route that would add some extra mileage to my run. I made up my mind and ran a couple extra blocks and crossed my fingers that i had added enough distance. When I reached the house and checked my watch I had run for 76 minutes. Surely, I prayed, I had at least run 7 miles on the dot.

After my cool down walk, I ran inside and jumped on SparkPeople and mapped out my run, again, and was overjoyed to see that not only did i run at least 7 miles, i actually ran 7.34 miles and even better, i had run just under 10:20 minute mile pace!

I ran a hilly run for the first time in ages and not only had I found my run up the hill much easier than i expected, I felt better than i expected, and i also ran much faster than i expected! What an amazing morning run. And that big, bad Golf Course Hill? Not really so big or so bad.

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SNEAKYGREG 10/15/2010 10:03AM

    It is really cool when we surprise ourselves on what we can actually do. Great job keep up the hard work

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Training Update

Thursday, October 07, 2010

On the heels of my previous positive update, I have more good news for myself. I have in fact - for the most part - been able to keep up my newer, quicker pace for all my moderate to short distance runs. My long run with my dad is still my faster long run to date, but the rest of my runs are improving with one set back week with a bum shoulder. The week after my dad-fueled amazing 6.35 mile run in 61 minutes, I didn't eat enough the day before and I had to drag myself along for the second half of my 6.2 mile run. I pushed through it and ran the whole route, but that made my shoulder tighten up and it hurt for most of the week which hindered my running for the week. Ice and heat loosened it up (for the most part) by the end of the week, but it's been lingering in the background and sometimes pops up at the end of my longer runs (tho, not as bad). Anyway, here are my times for this past week, which was a better week:

Sun: 7.26 miles in 79 minutes (10:50 min/mile pace)
Tues: 4.5 miles in 43 minutes (9:30 min/mile pace)
Wed: 3 miles in 29.5 minutes (9:50 min/mile pace)
Thur: 4.5 miles in 44 minutes (9:50 min/mile pace)

I wasn't able to run my long distance run in under 10 min/mile pace, but I was for all the rest of my runs. And also on the positive side, I've started timing my mile splits and found that I can run negative splits for my moderate distance runs without killing myself. At this point I am not ready to run the half marathon at under 11 min/mile pace, but that is why I have still have two more months of training to go.

This upcoming Sunday I will be running my 7 mile long distance run with some nice hills, so hopefully I will be able to at least keep up my 11min/mile pace and give my training a nice boost.

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Picking Up The Pace

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

This week has turned out to be one of my best, so far, thanks in large part to my Sunday run with my dad. This week I have turned in some of the fastest paced runs, yet. Sunday, my dad helped push me on my long distance run of the week. Yesterday and today I pushed myself because I felt I should be able to run faster with the knowledge of how fast I was able to run on Sunday. How well did that work out for me?

Here is a look at my training schedule so far this week:

Sun: 6.35 miles in 61 minutes (9:40/mile pace)
Tues: 4 miles in 38 minutes (9:30/mile pace)
Wed: 2 miles in 19 minutes (9:30/mile pace)

Here are my times from last week:

Sun: 5 miles in 55 minutes (11/mile pace)
Tues: 3.5 miles in 40 minutes (11:25/mile pace)
Wed: 2 miles in 20 minutes (10/mile pace)
Thur: 3.5 miles in 36 minutes (10:30/mile pace)

So, you can see that my long runs are noticeably faster this week while my short runs are less so, but still faster. Definitely an improvement. I don't know if I will be able to keep up this new pace, but I will try. If anything, it continues to give me hope for running a faster race. To top it off, the mornings are cooler and my legs are feeling better. Could I finally be seeing (and feeling) the positive results of all my training? Improvement sure takes work, but it feels good.

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Running With Dad

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

This past weekend, my parents came to visit their granddaughter and my dad wanted to run with me which was scary and exciting all at the same time. More on that later....

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How Alarming!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So, I apparently had a freaky foreshadowing in my blog, yesterday. After talking about how the dark mornings may make it more difficult to get up to run, I said "The darker and longer mornings make it harder to get up and run, but as long as my alarm keeps waking me up, I will continue to push on." Well, guess what happened this morning? If you're observant to the obvious, you've already got this figured out. If not and you're still unsure of what I'm getting at... then you need some work on your logical deducting.

Now, my alarm clock is still very reliable. However, my phone alarm I have just found is not. Sunday night, I noticed my throat had become a little sore. Monday morning my throat was still sore, so my wife and I decided I should probably sleep in the guest room to keep from getting her and/or our baby sick, if in fact I was actually getting sick (jury is still out on that as i still feel fine except for the minor sore throat, but i digress). I decided that unless I really felt sick - more than just a small sore throat - I was still going to get in my training run, so I set the alarm on my phone for the usual 4:55am time.

Flash forward to this morning and I wake up wondering what I time it is. I think it must still be the middle of the night since it's dark (see first part of my quote) and my phone alarm hasn't gone off (see second part of my quote). After lying there for a few minutes I checked my phone and found that it was not the middle of the night, but was actually almost 5:15am. Well, fortunately that wasn't late enough to kill my run, so i quickly jumped up, got dressed, drank my 16 oz of water, and was out the door by 5:25 and back at 6:15 with plenty of time to shower and get ready for work. No harm, no foul, but still a little freaky.

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ON2VICTORY 9/16/2010 6:07PM

    I hate it when that happens. great job in keeping your commitment!

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SIMPLYLISSIE 9/14/2010 2:04PM

    I like your title pun!

I am utterly paranoid my alarm won't go off--I set two, but obsessively have to check them at least once before I go to sleep to ensure they're cocked and ready to fly come morning. Ironically, I might note, I'm am also a compulsive Snooze-r. Subsequently, I've perfected the three minute shower and the 15 minute bed-to-door routine :)

Keep running!

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