"It's a little self indulgent..." - My mom
"After I read a sentence, I get mad at myself for caring what you're doing." -Karl Dusen

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

43 miles in the hills

I was lazy in writing during my vacation, so it is time to catch up.

Thursday evening was just about getting 8.5 miles in before I traveled back to Pittsburgh for Matt Ciccone's 30th birthday party. I did a backwards Woodley at about 6:40 pace. I got to my mom's house rather late and tried, for the first time, the oral appliance my ENT prescribed to help combat my sleep apnea. It seemingly only makes my sleep worse, because it keeps my mouth open all night. Not only is it uncomfortable, but my mouth dries out and leaves me chronically dehydrated. It most certainly does not aid my sleeping. Of course, I did not know this the first night I sleep wearing it. I woke up late in the morning, planning to run an easy six mile around Chatham Village, a route I routinely ran while living in Pittsburgh. After one loop of my typical eight, I decided to head out to see more of the city. I ran down William Street to the south side, ran part of the half marathon course and back up the McArdle Roadway. That hill reminded me what had been missing from my hill work in Virginia- intensity and duration. After a little more than six miles, I needed a break.

After a trip to my old office, I went to visit the Gangjees in O'Hara Township, another hilly part of a hilly city. Javed said that Jess had been complaining of not having a hard enough workout lately, so he charged me with the responsibility of pushing her pace. Our out-and-back into Fox Chapel nearly decimated me. I was gasping for air on hills that I used to treat with anything from mild annoyance to delight. Clearly, Pittsburgh had gotten tougher while at the same time, I got softer. I have never begged for her to slow down, but I did then.

The next morning, I met up with a gang of cyclists in Sewickley to be part of their ride in spirit, though they were going 20 miles starting in the other direction and I wouldn't be able to keep up on foot. The plan was to run a two mile uphill warmup and then a 10 mile tempo, but once again the hills a dehydration were too much. Six miles in, I was still climbing and just stopped with my hands on my knees, trying to stop the ground from moving. I was too far out to make going back any easier, so I trudged on. Eventually I hit a mile-long downhill that lifted my spirits, but in the end I mustered maybe three miles of tempo effort.

Sunday's long run marked several points- my adjustment to the hills, a stunning recovery from eating a lot of steak and drinking a lot of bourbon at Matt's party the night before, and the welcomed improvement in sleep when I eskewed the mouthpiece. I met up with Shafer, Jo, Brandon G,Greg Brynes and Steve Garand to have them test out the 18-mile permutation of my Wild Wild West End loop, which I am constantly refining. Jo was only planning for 17 miles, so she and Shafer adjusted the loop a little, and we managed to nearly kill Brandon with his continuing dehydration, but Steve and Greg and I had a solid run. I hid some water at mile 11, and that helped a bit, and I still fell off a bit on two hills in miles 13 and 14 in which we climbed 322 feet. These were the same hills I used to conquer during my long runs, but no matter, the whole run was progress. For the most part, people enjoyed the loop, though I did take come critiques to heart when I redesigned it.

It was a total of 43 miles of hills in three days. I finally got the hang of it and realize what I need more of in my training- long, serious hills.

I got back to DC on Monday and ran 10 miles on an out-and-back to the west on the W&OD Trail.

Shafer checks out Jo's legs while Greg indicates that he's a badass.


  1. I didn't know you were out our way last weekend! And who were these cyclists that you attempted to join on foot? In any case, it sounds like our tough hills kicked you in your soft, D.C.-hill-running arse!

  2. for the most part, I think the dehydration compounded everything. With enough water I can handle anything, but I was lightheaded running along Centennial... I didn't try to accompany the cyclists on foot, I just wanted to start and finish with them, it was Ciccone and some of his associates. Mostly CMU-related people but some more "serious" cyclists.