With the onset of rain comes the arrival of Tiger Mountain season. Tiger is the perfect place for me to “train” for Orcas Island and get the exercise I need to stay somewhat sane during the soggy months.
I think Orcas will be a good first race for me as there is no way I’ll be able to run for 25 kilometers without walking. 3500+ feet (not quite sure of the exact figure) of elevation gain means long hills, long long hills, long hills that force pretty much everyone except the front-runners to slow to a walk.
Since I’ll be walking several miles of the course, I figure I should at least be comfortable running the downhills so I won’t end up hiking the entire distance. I tried it out on my favorite Tiger Mountain loop (High School Trail -> Section Line Trail -> down WT3 -> Bus Trail -> Powerline back to High School) on Saturday. Somehow I forget how steep the upper Section Line trail is every time I go – this must be the same kind of amnesia that makes women choose to endure childbirth more than once – so I crawled my way to the top, totally living up to my blog name.
I thought I would be lightning-fast on the downhills, but it’s not as easy as I had thought. I immediately got a nagging side stitch and had to stop and walk. After this had happened several times, I realized that I was concentrating so hard on landing correctly (and not slipping on the snot-slick leaves) that I was holding my breath. Once I relaxed and kept chest open and shoulders back, the side stitch went away.
When we got back to the car, I was totally pooped, more so than after my hikes this summer which were twice as long and had more elevation gain. It was a really good kind of tired though, and the following two days of DOMS in all my little stabilizer muscles told me that I really was teaching my body some brand new tricks.
Here’s my Strava feed for the run. As you can see, I use the term “run” loosely, as I’m 100% sure that most of my TNAB friends could hike that downhill and finish faster than I did…but everybody’s got to start somewhere, and as long as I am out there and I’m having fun, I refuse to be embarrassed about my pace. (Mostly.) My main goal now isn’t to get a faster running pace, but to be able to sustain that pace on the flats and downhills without having to stop and walk so often. I’m pretty sure that 60% of that battle is mental, as I tend to underestimate my body’s capabilities.