Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hamilton Mountain

Yesterday Susan, Steve and I did repeats on Hamilton. Why Wednesday? This Sunday is the Vancouver Lake 1/2 marathon and I need to get a new VDOT at that event. That means it's an all out effort at max speed so my hill work needed to be done on Wednesday. Danni commented about the cold temperatures and still seeing us in shorts. Well, since we are almost always socked in with clouds and rain during the winter anytime we see a clear sunny day we think we are in Palm Springs. I think I got conditioned during our recent arctic blast and now I think anything over 33 degrees and clear is tropical. Unfortunately it's not and makes for some cold stiff legs. We are still be treated to the clear sunny days but now I carry tights with me every time. The shorts sound like a good idea but they're not. So, on Wednesday it was forecasted to be beautiful and clear and with promising "no snow" reports from our gorge friends (folks who live out there) I was stoked to hit either Hamilton or Dog mountain. Since I only had 2X30 minute repeats I chose Hamilton. Even though it's sunny out the east winds in the gorge have been fierce. If you aren't used to the severe winds you have no concept of how frigged and powerful they are. So, I drove east to meet up with Steve and Susan and when I got out of my car at our rendezvous point my car door would barely open against the wind. It has been clocked at crown point at 155 mph. That's some wind. I jump out dressed in shorts and a long sleeve and Steve looks at me like I have lost my mind as he buried his head in his hands while shaking it back and forth. The temperature gauge in my car read 32 degrees but with the wind chill it felt like ice on my legs. My car door slammed shut and Steve stood outside knocking on the window for me to unlock the passenger side. He was frozen. Thankful I threw in my tights I made my way into the restaurant to change fighting the wind the whole way. No shorts for me!

As we drove further east my car was being jostled due to the high winds. I was hopeful we would get a reprieve on the trail but I knew the open face of either mountain would be harsh. When we arrived it was eerily windy and with our huge fir trees it was sort of creepy wondering if one of those big boys was coming down. Bundled to the hilt we forged through the wind to the trail head where the trees and cliffs felt as comfortable as our living room. Sheeesh....if it wasn't better there is no way we would have made it up that mountain without turning into popsicles.

My legs were tired from the morning boot camp and the prior days M-Pace run. BTW - I have been doing these Tuesday M-Pace runs but the pace is actually 15 seconds slower than M-Pace. They are designed to teach the body to run in the lower portion of our 3A zone. They are incredibly effective. A bit taxing but not over the edge and sure help with the economy of your gate. For me the pace is just under an 8 minute mile. Since that run in on Tuesday and generally averages about 10-12 miles doing hill repeats right after would not be recommended but life is life and it needed to get done. We made our way to the junction where you can choose the difficult or most difficult ascent. We were using the most difficult with it's lovely switchbacks all they up to 2400+ feet. The trail was snow free except for the exposed top where the snow was packed down ice. This snow/ice lasted only about 10 feet. As we made our way up the face of the mountain the wind would roar up then disappear as you dove back into the woods. It was awesome though! The light of the day was really different. With the light dust of high clouds against the blue sky and iced bushes it made for an extra special treat. Being on Hamilton in the middle of January is cool in of itself but to have the unique visual was awesome.

We made two trips up the steepest side running every step. My body felt really strong and I am definitely one step above in fitness. I can for sure say that now. My legs felt tired but not at all weak. The terrain on this mountain is darn technical and I can tell I haven't spent much time on anything rocky. The downhill was a bit clumsy and my footing was unsure. There's nothing I can do about that except practice. I forgot how technical this trail is and it would be great training for those steep technical descents at Wasatch. Yippee!!!! Black Wednesday........


  1. It's a bad sign when your car is being blown around!!! I'm glad to see you are protecting your poor little legs from the elements. I'm excited to see how your race goes this weekend!!!

  2. Big hill week! I say,"Everyday should be Black Whateverday". I expect nothing less than a p.r. on Sunday

  3. Good luck on Sunday! This is your year!

  4. You are sooooo ready. Show no mercy – Don’t hold back, just let it go.