Mt. Hamilton Run - A Training Day: June 28, 2009

The big run of the summer season, for Rick and Dave, is the Pikes Peak Challenge - a half marathon run with a finishing line at the top of 14,000 ft. Pikes Peak in Colorado. Training for such a run requires some long, hard, uphill training runs. Rick proposed we do a run from the base to the top of Mt. Hamilton, the highest mountain in the Bay Area. It's an 18.5 mile 4343 ft of climbing with a couple of short downhill stretches interspersed. Sounded fun, and even though I didn't think I was ready to run such a course, I knew I was quite capable of riding it, so I signed on as the support crew. I'd drop Dave and Rick off at the bottom, then drive up to the summit setting up hidden water, gatorade, and gu stashes every 2-3 miles along the way. Then bike back down and accompany the runners. The timing of this, what with the other races on our schedules, made June 28 the magic day. Unfortunately, this was also the day that one of the larger asteroid science projects of the year, nationally, was to happen - as asteroid Juewa occulted a faint star in Aries in a path which crossed central California. This allows specially equipped observers (like me!) to map the precise size and shape of the asteroid; valuable data for ongoing studies of the formation and evolution of the asteroid belt. I signed on to this effort, and needed to be on Nacimiento Road north of Paso Robles and set up to digitally record the event at 3:53am. All went well (see here), and I then packed up and drove back to Santa Cruz, arriving at Rick Ferrell's at 6:15am.

Picking up Dave

OK, let's get this show started

Coolers full of chilled water

All smiles, we're ready to attack this project

"We'll need plenty of sunscreen on this one, Dave....Dave?"

Typical water/fuel stash

After laying out and chalking the road by my water stashes, I biked down the mountain and ran into Rick and Dave just before the Smith Creek fire station. Great opportunity for a total soak at their garden hose. Then the final 2,000 ft push to the top. Turns out my chalking wasn't totally easy to spot, and two of the 5 aid stations were missed. School chalk is pretty thin, and when a car drives over it, it's gone. Doh!

Here's where the wheels began to come off my training day. I've had great results with Cytomax, and with the 105F predicted temperature today, I figured I'd need extra strength electrolyte inputs, so I doubled the strength of my 2 cytomax bottles.... BIG mistake! After just a few swigs, cramps and some ugly chemistry began in happening in my stomach. I couldn't touch another drop, and didn't stash any extra water for myself (or rather, I gave my extra water to Dave and Rick, who had the harder task I figured). By the time we reached the top, I was cooked. And my stomach was HUGE.

A long and winding road

The Observatory provided much-needed shade

James Lick is buried in the concrete foundation of the big telescope...

...about how my stomach felt - like a big lump of concrete

Fortunately, after soaking my head in the chilled drinking fountain water inside the museum, my bloated situation resolved itself on the long drive down the mountain, I'm sure appreciated by all in the enclosed car.

For Dave and Rick: Total distance run was 18.4 miles, in a time of 3:07, with three hills. First was 5.9 miles and 1514 ft of elevation gain, second hill was 3.2 miles and 770 feet of gain, and the last one is 6.6 miles with 2060 feet of gain.

Well done, guys! Dave's weekend was especially impressive - as he did the Double Dipsea run the day before (half marathon with 4,000 feet of elevation gain).