Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Bench at the Top of the World

I've been running seriously now for about two years.

Every once in a while it's all I want to do.

Sometimes I don't want to do it at all.

Occasionally I wonder why I do it.

If I'm up at 5:30 a.m. then I really wonder why I'm doing it.

If I'm climbing up a Mountain at 5:30 a.m. then I'm seriously beginning to doubt my own sanity.

On Saturday, each and every one of those went through my mind. 

With me growing tired of the normal running routes around here, and with my buddy Mike has apparently been bit by some kind of radioactive Australian tiger Beetle, it only made sense that we try to run up a mountain that was matched in size only by our desire to appear cooler than we actually are.

The Mountain at Garapata State Beach.

I don't use the term "mountain" lightly.  I grew up in Lake Tahoe.  We have actual mountains.  I've lived in the  South.  They have actual hills, but they're not mountains.

Clearly, this was going to hurt.  And it isn't even 6:30 a.m. yet.  Dammit.

The impetus for this little adventure was the desire to simulate another mountain.  A mountain that is going to appear at roughly the 30 mile mark of the North Face Endurance 50 miler in December.  This will be a first for both Mike and myself.  Neither one of us consider DNFing an option and want to do everything we can to prepare.  So we needed a mountain to simulate a mountain.  We found it.  Now we just needed to chop it down with the edge of our hand. 

The loop we were interested in was 4.5 miles or so with about 2000 feet of elevation gain in the first two miles.  This is actually more aggressive than the climb we'll face in the race, so it suits our needs perfectly.  Let's do this.

Any good military man can tell you that your plan will never survive first contact with the enemy.  It was as true with this mountain as it was in Afghanistan.  The plan according to Tony Robbins Mike was to do at least three laps in order to get some decent miles in.  We had visions of doing as many as five.  

We ended up doing two.

The first two miles is almost entirely straight up and was easily a 30% grade.  I was tasting rusty nickels inside of twenty minutes and could hear the beat of my heart through my eardrums.  If there was any solace whatsoever during the climb it was the face that the mountain didn't keep its misery hidden from you.  There were not really any false plateaus and no real sense of "being done" until you actually were.

And although running can often be a cruel mistress, and a grumpy old bat that leaves you with all kinds of thoughts of incredulity about yourself, one occasionally gets a look at what it looks like when the ship of expectations pulls into the harbor of sheer amazement:

Somebody get me a beer.

If you're curious, here is the elevation profile of this monster, keeping in mind we did the loop twice.

The end result of this was mountain of alchemy that turned my quads into lead, but a run that helped to answer all of the tough questions. 

You get up early.

You run when you don't wanna.

You wonder just what the hell you're doing.

And then, you sit.

You look downward.

And you see a rainbow resting on a cloud.

Oh yeah . . .

THAT'S why.

By Marcus with 4 comments


Great post Marcus. Seriously well written, and i'm glad I got to experience the mountain with you! We'll get our three laps (at least) next time! lol!

Awesome post. And this is why, as a Colorado guy especially, I love running in the mountains... just not first thing in the morning.

Holy crap.. before I saw the pic of the mountain, I hapily sat here saying, oh me to, I feel like that! I know exactly what he is saying!


I saw the picture and thought "HOLY PIG s#!t" they are insane.. But I love it and totally think that kind of crazy rules, the view was obviously worth the pain, and will never be forgotten, I prob's would have cried its so pretty!(dont tell anyone i can be a wimp like that)

OH, and LA ;) not to far but a WHOLE NEW scenery and way of life, no more beach town.. West Hollywood... !

Awesome! I too question my sanity on a regular basis. I mean... why do I schedule my social schedule around a long run on Saturday? That's usually where I start questioning myself.

Also... you grew up in Lake Tahoe??? ME TOO! So I know what you mean about the mountains :)

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