So my training last weekend consisted of a hike up Mount of the Holy Cross, as I hadn’t yet climbed this 14’er (barely making it into the category at 14,005). The roundtrip was 11.5 miles with 5,600 feet of elevation gain (3,700 net) so it was a good workout. I did not run any portion of it. The 1.6 miles of talus at the end of the ascent and conversely, the beginning of the return trip, makes the 16 Golden Stair on Pikes look like a Legos playground. To a person, everyone who has done the Ascent of Pikes tells me I will be walking much if not most of the time due to the crowd of participants. So I’ve been encouraged by more than one person to use some power walking in my training, particularly on hills. So I have and have found they are absolutely right, that a power walking pace can be as fast as a slow jog and more efficient. One couple I know recently did an experimental ascent of Pikes Peak, power walking the entire route without stopping and finished it in 4 hours, 20 minutes. Pretty good, I’d say.
In addition to working on my posture while I run, so that I don’t look like a big question mark in motion, all hunched over, I’ve decided to also work on relaxing my facial muscles. Call it vanity but I saw a picture of me during the Summer Roundup run with this unsightly grimace on my mug. I didn’t feel that bad, honest. I’ve noticed I have this tendency when I’m concentrating or exerting some effort, to sort of squint. Caught on camera, it looks as if I’m in agony, when I’m really not. Honest. Okay, I can see no one is going to buy this so I’ve been working on relaxing those facial muscles. I would hate to develop a nose cramp from having my face all scrunched up. Not only could that be painful, it just doesn’t look good, especially if it happens right at the finish. If nothing else,despite your time, you want to, at the very least, look good for any photographers lurking around the finish line. Speaking of cramps, here’s one more note about hill running that I failed to include before. Sometimes, on real steep slopes, I will employ a technique I read about in Danny Dreyer’s Chi-Running book. It’s a crab walk, going up hills sideways, leading with one leg for a while, then the other, letting the leading arm hang loose while pumping with the trailing arm. Does it get me to the top of a hill faster? Dont’ know, not sure but the theory about using different muscles and giving others a chance to rest makes some sense to me, so I do it. So if you see someone waddling up the trail on Ascent day, there’s a good chance it’ll be me. Running just makes me “crabby” sometimes.