Friday, April 30, 2010

So Not Used to the Hills

It's hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago, I was in the Bay Area, spending a weekend with several other women who are just as active, if not more in some cases, as me. It was the weekend of the LUNA Chix Summit, an event hosted by LUNA that brings together all of the various teams from around the country. You had mountain bikers from Lake Tahoe, triathletes from Buffalo, N.Y., runners from Orlando and Atlanta, road cyclists from Austin, Tex., and Madison, Wis. Let's just say that the hotel we were staying in was packed with women, a TON of sports gear from running shoes to bikes, and lots of LUNA products.

Over the course of the weekend we met women from other teams, sat through presentations, listened to lectures and practiced our respective sports. A bunch of sporty women can't go the weekend without getting in some physical exercise, right? And we had it built into the schedule--sweat sessions both Saturday and Sunday that ranged from short to epic. The only problem was the weather didn't exactly want to cooperate. Coming from Chicago, I hoped the trip to California would mean some sunshine and warmer weather than what I was getting back home. No such luck this time around as after the sun's appearance on Friday--the day we were all arriving--I didn't see it again until arriving back at the airport to fly home on Sunday afternoon.

But we made the most of the trip anyway, and didn't let a shower rain on our parade. It only meant a little modification here and there--a tweaking of the workouts, if you will--but nothing that should have put a frown on anyone's face. Take Sunday, for example, where we had the morning to choose activities to get the blood flowing before heading home. The morning was overcast and cold, and just as the mountain bikers started spinning their wheels in the parking lot to take off for the trail, the sky opened up and a sprinkle turned into full-on rain. They biked anyway--mud's almost good in that sport unless it erodes the trail--and returned with mud-caked gears to prove they rocked it, too.

My memory, however, was on the Sunday morning run. Originally we had two choices: short and laidback or long and hilly (and on a trail). I'm a sucker for long workouts--even if I probably should have taken the shorter route to taper for a race the following weekend, but that's another story. Due to the rain, the run both became shorts ones, just that one was short and on the flat-ish (considering it was just north of San Fran) multi-use trail while the other was now short and still hilly but no trail because it would be a muddy mess. And then for anyone who wanted, there'd be a Cross Fit workout following the running. I like it, I like it, I think, knowing that the hilly is just what I need to prep for my next race. Only problem was that I still got in over my head--maybe in a good way though. That's probably one of my strongest memories from the Summit, was that workout that the Bay Area Running Team took us on. It was only a short run, roughly 3 miles there and back, and it felt great when we started, but there was a catch: The huge, long hill--mountain to us Chicagoans--we had to climb before returning back to base. I don't do nearly enough hill workouts--OK try none in the last year, bad me--but this hill would seriously kick anyone's butt. You're running, running, running and then gradually you feel the climb start to set in. It feels OK at first but as you look ahead it only gets steeper, AND there's no end in sight. I started off near the front of the bunch, but as we climbed I fell further back, taking walk breaks often to ease the heaving in my lungs and pulling on my Achilles and eventually abandoning the run because I could walk as fast as I was running (if you could even call it that at that point). I didn't care about the rain, nor did it even phase me that I was getting pretty wet; I just wanted to get to the top of the hill. And I watched incredulously as some other runners made the hill look like it was tame--I wish I could do that.

As for the downhill? Talk about tough on the quads. I know you're supposed to take it easy on the downhills to avoid injury and also let gravity pull you downhill--don't resist by leaning back--but well, uh, let's just say I looked like the newbie runner tackling a hill for the first time. My legs let loose and the only way I could somewhat hold myself back was to lean back because if I did lean forward, even a little, I felt out of control and that I'd make one false move and land flat on my face (I've done it before so I don't doubt my klutzy ability to do it again). Others in the group did get it right though--remembering the lessons we learned in our Saturday run clinic  and speeding downhill thanks to the lean forward lesson. Meanwhile I was happy to make it down in one piece, and not feel the nagging pain near my arch and heel that's plagued me since last summer. And it's something I definitely can't get at home.


  1. proud of you lady. i'm happy you made it down in one piece too!

  2. Aw thanks! I'm glad you and Jenn survived the bike...way more intense than my ranting over a hill :)



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