Monday, May 21, 2012

The tale of two mountains

The second half of last weeks training was organized around two key uphill workouts; a run up Black Mountain and a ride up Mt. Hamilton.  Both were important to building strength and fitness for upcoming hillclimb races.  The Mt. Hamilton Classic (road bike race) takes place next Sunday May 27 and for (slow) USA Cycling Category 5 racers like myself it will be 18 miles long with 4500' of climbing.  The Mt. Washington Road Race is coming up on June 16 and will be the 2012 USA Mountain Running National Championships.  This classic road mountain race climbs 4200' over 7.6 miles!

Yesterday was my last opportunity to ride up Mt. Hamilton before next weekend so I wanted to put in a steady zone 2/3 (heart rate) effort as well as think about strategy for the race.  Every time I ride Mt. Hamilton I think of the first time I rode it - last years Mt. Hamilton Challenge race!  I did the race on a heavy 25 pound steel bike from 1985 and was woefully unprepared in addition to being under-equipped.  I reached the summit in 1:22 with my lungs on fire and my ass muscles completely cramped.  In the end none of that mattered because it was wicked fun, an awesome challenge and I was hooked.

Mt. Hamilton Summit - May 2011

For this years race I resolved to do more uphill training rides prior to the race and be better equipped.  The better equipment was easy since I'd bought a modern carbon fiber bike last winter.  My training has also been better but only to a point since my primary focus has been on running and I only ride about 50 miles a week.  I felt good after climbing to the summit yesterday and looked forward to an enjoyable descent since my last visit to Hamilton was on a cool February day.  Total round trip ride stats: 40 miles, 2:42, 5400' of ascent and descent.

My other mountain climb last week was a uphill interval workout on Friday up to the 2800' summit of Black Mountain.  For this workout I took the shortest steepest route which climbs 5 miles from Moody Rd (Near Foothill College).  I started with 2 long 1 minute intervals at close to race pace.  With warm-up and rest this took me to the 4 mile mark (2000').  For the last steep mile I did 8x 1 minute hard intervals with 1 minute rest.  With a total of 23 minutes at threshold (zone 4) I counted that as a successful workout on the road to the Mt. Washington Road Race.  Workout stats are here or at the bottom of the post.

So those were my important workouts from the last few days.  Two mountains - at 4200' (Hamilton) and 2800' (Black) elevations, within sight of each other across Silicon Valley - both picture perfect training grounds for ascent races.  Other workouts the last few days included an 18 mile flat recovery bike ride Friday afternoon, an easy flat 10 mile run Saturday and a 4 mile run with my favorite running partner and wife Kelly.  :-)

Total mileage for the week:
60 running
121 cycling