Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hilloween 2013

 Hilloween is a challenge to the participant to achieve the most elevation gain, by foot, in a 10 hr period of time.  Location and route is up to the participant.

I chose Mission Peak because I like it.  This has to be one of my favorite loops in the Bay Area.  I knew it would be pretty good for this event too because it is steep.  And the steeper the better for this competition.  But, I didn't know how my body would respond given this is not exactly the normal type of thing that I tackle in training.  I was relying on my aerobic fitness at this point.

Google Earth rendering of the "loop".  Up Horse Heaven + shortcut on the right hand side.  Down Main trail (Ohlone Wilderness and co) on right side.

Google Earth profile of the "loop"
I started out pretty early.  Visibility was an issue.  I didn't carry a light, but that was ok because I could make out the edges of the trail in the light available.  The fog was intense though providing maybe a few feet of visibility.  As I climbed with my trusty hiking poles in hand I was reminded of the old car racing video games that I grew up with.  The ones where they present you with maybe 20 ft of oncoming road that changes faster as you build up speed and you have to react to the obstacles.  Good thing I wasn't going too fast.  No danger there.

Start at 6:13 a.m.
 Unfortunately about 50 ft up devil's twinky, one of my poles snapped.  I stood there for a second completely dumbfounded.  The way these poles usually break is that you accidentally put a moment on it and the bending force breaks the fibers because the poles were designed to transfer force straight from your hands through the poles to the ground.  Mine just snapped with a normal movement.  I still haven't diagnosed the failure, even in post examination.  No fibers broke, it seems one of the between pole fixtures failed in some manner.  Anyways, at the time I was trying to figure out what to do.  I was on the steepest part of my climb with little to no visibility, and without the aid or steadying help of hiking poles.  I continued to stumble up the hill and at one point thought about turning around and going home.  But I decided to at least stumble through one loop.

Sun starting to come up just as I approach summit one.

Peak in background.  Trust me.  Real smile.

As more light became available things got easier and I felt pretty good, so I decided to jog down the mountain and throw the poles back in my car and then continue on the loops.  It was fun.  I was having a blast.

7:38 start for loop 2.

Still a real smile.

8:51 start for loop 3.
 Basically, while I was still fresh, I was averaging a 50 minute climb and a 25 minute descent and it was a really relaxed pace.  I will admit that the steep sections of the climb, such as devil's twinkie, took a lot out of me as my heart would really start to race during these sections.  There were plenty of people asking whether I was going for my second summit, etc as they had seen me a couple of times.  When I explained I was on loop three and planning on going for ten hours, they gave me one of those looks.  The kind of look where I can't tell if they are impressed or they think I am crazy.  Probably a little of both.

Half smile.

10:07 start for loop 4.
Loop 4 was tough.   I definitely felt the cumulative effect of the day so far and had to collect myself a few times on the climbs to allow the heart rate to come down some.  By the time I reached the last ridge to the summit my legs were getting weak, I was getting dizzy, and started having some out of body type of experiences.  I remember sort of feeling detached from my body, kind of staring down at it from above as I stumbled along.  I got some nice views though, you know, the kind of views that you are treated to when you are no longer confined to the line of sight from ones own eyeballs.

Now I am just lying to the camera.
After my forth assent, I collapsed at the summit and decided to eat my AB&J (almond butter and jelly, for those of you not in the "know").  I enjoyed the views and just chilled.  I decided there if my legs weren't very snappy on the descent that I would call it a day.  At Firetrails I promised myself that I wasn't going to induce any running related suffering the rest of this year and return to the heart of my running, which is having fun.  Predictably I was pretty wiped and was content returning to the car.  All in all, I enjoyed the adventure and learned a few things as well.  For instance, it is no coincidence that the only terrain that was causing me issues was the kind of stuff that I don't spend that much time on.  If I could train myself to keep my heart rate down on a steep climb, this sort of thing, or any of the big "mountain" ultra races will be much more within my grasps.  I think.  My totals for the day were 8850 ft of climbing in 5 hours.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I climbed Mission Peak on Sunday too! I started at Ohlone College around 5pm though. And it took me 1:16 for the round trip. It got really windy up there! I'd like to try a few loops one of these days for training. 4 loops in 5 hours is pretty fast!