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Mojo Risin’ December 22, 2009

Posted by Richard Lowe in Training.
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I haven’t lost it. I am not going crazy. After Sunday’s run at the Lafayette Reservoir in the Bay Area, I needed something to boost my confidence. That run—and it’s hills—certainly got the best of me.

The day after Lafayette we returned to Modesto and I was determined to get out and run. I needed to get my mojo back. Despite the solitary, non-competitive nature of training, I still enjoy the challenge of recording my times. I use it as motivation to track my progress, while also adding an element of competition. So, in my weird and obsessive way, I felt that Lafayette had “beaten” me and I wanted to get back to it.

I picked a route that I had done back in November. It was a safe, flat trail that I was familiar with and all I needed was a decent time to feel good about my running again Luckily, I hit my goal and, using my disappointment from Lafayette as fuel, made a good time that I’m happy with.

Distance: 5.15 miles
Time: 41:00
Pace: 7:58 mile

So the run went well and I’ve got my confidence back. I can take solace in the fact that Lafayette was bad because of the unending, terrible hills. One day, I’m going to go back to Lafayette and run all over that trail with an iron foot. Hi-yah!

(Much to the chagrin of my friend Karen, who has been pushing me to run in the rain, it started pouring five minutes after I returned from the run. Like I tweeted to Karen, I’m not avoiding the rain, I promise!)


The Horrible Hills of Lafayette Reservoir December 21, 2009

Posted by Richard Lowe in Training.
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Yikes. It was just One Of Those Days.

After last week’s great 15 mile run, it was only fitting to follow it up with an extremely challenging and not-so-fun one. That’s just how karma works, right?

I came up to visit my parents for the holidays and we happened to be in the Bay Area for my grandfather’s 81st birthday. I hadn’t had a chance to run the previous three days so I was desperate to get back on the road. However, being semi-unfamiliar with the area and needing a long run, I wanted a looping route that I could mindlessly breeze through. Well, I got the looping route but it was no route I could mindlessly breeze through.


You can’t tell from this Google Maps image but for a (beginner) runner, this trail is hell. For someone out for a stroll, or perhaps a lap or two of it’s 2.7 rolling green hills, it’s fantastic.

Don’t be deceived.

Even though the trail is 2.7 miles, there are about 15 hills of varying degrees. Admittedly, I wasn’t ready for it, even though I thought I could do it. What compounded the problem is running the trail multiple times meant running the hills multiple times. And the hills got the best of me.

The flatter hills were doable, but the longer, steeper ones really did a number on my body. Additionally, downhill paths, I find, are much more difficult than uphill, especially the ones with a longer grade. As someone who hasn’t done too much hill work, I could feel that it takes a whole new set of muscles to control a downhill stride. It’s so easy to accidentally overextend your stride when running downhill, not to mention the extra impact caused by gravity on your feet. It really takes some effort to control. For me, the only challenge with running uphill is muscle strength. Downhill requires practice.

I needed to do 16 miles, which meant 6 loops. I only got to 13 miles, but it was no farther than loop 3 that I was hurting. My hips and knees on both my legs were aching and hurting. I had never felt anything like it. At one point, I tried to simply loop one mile intervals but even within that one mile the hills were unbearable at that point. So I cut my run short.

These ducks were laughing at me, I’m sure of it.

In the end, I’m thankful for the run. It was a great training run, especially considering there will be hills during the marathon. But it was not fun. However, it does help mentally to know that I’ve done a run with massive, unconquerable hills. I know it will be useful come race day. Looking back I’m glad I did it, but at the time, it was terrible.

Distance: 13 miles
Time: 122:58
Pace: 9:27 mile

The words “hill” and “hell” are separated by only one letter… Think about that!

In the holiday spirit.

Even GU Chomps couldn’t save me.

Gorgeous day, gorgeous scenery, hellish run.