Sunday, October 13, 2013

Attacking Pack Monadnock on the the ElliptiGO

Last Saturday, I decided to ride my ElliptiGO up Pack Monadnock. I had been thinking about trying this all summer, but my thoughts were more about riding out to the mountain from my house on my ElliptiGO and then going up it before heading home (maybe a 5-6 hour day). Then I saw that the new ElliptiGO convert and running beast Dave Dunham rode the Pack Mondanock 10 mile road race course to the top a few days earlier on his GO and I was inspired to try it myself. I set a goal of trying to beat my best time in the race set back in 1996. Coincidentally, Dave won the race that year, but he has won tons of mountain races including Mt. Washington three times and has a recent 11th place finish in the Masters World Mountain Running Championships held in the Czech Republic back in September. He is also frequently injured, hence the wise choice of getting an ElliiptiGO.

I had three things I was worried about before attempting this challenge: number one, I might get lost and take a wrong turn on back roads I am unfamiliar with: number 2, I might not be able to make it up the mountain (the last 1.3 miles are as steep or steeper than Mt. Washington), and 3, riding down the mountain might be treacherous. I decided to dive in anyhow and parked at the base of the auto road to pay the $4 to climb the mountain. Then I took a set of directions I had printed and rode the course backwards trying to navigate and remember all the corners for the return.

I thought I had the course correct, grabbed some water and started where the 10 mile road race starts. When I used to run this race, I always ran it as a tough 8 1/2 mile road race. I would ignore the thought of running to the top and ran as hard as I could knowing that the last bit would be slow going anyhow. I used the same tactic on my ElliptiGO. The first mile is hilly with some uphills that sent my heart rate soaring where it stayed the whole ride. I tried to look at my route directions, but had to rely on my memory due to the effort I was putting in (for the same reason, I drank no water). Unfortunately, at around 3 miles I came upon an intersection and realized I had added some extra distance to the ride as I entered from a different direction. I thought about turning around and starting again, but I was already using up my energy and didn't want to face the beginning hills again. My enthusiasm was dulled a bit because of this mistake, but this was supposed to be fun, so I just soldiered on.

There were a few dirt roads to navigate and I kept on the course expect for one bad turn and I had to go around an island in the road to turn around and lost about 20-30 seconds. From there on it was just keeping going as hard as I could until I made my way to the parking lot at the base of the mountain. I rode right by the gate and started heading up. After a few minutes a car went by and I heard someone cheer, "Go Jim!" I couldn't tell who it was, but I knew it was a runner due to the stickers on the car. Now I had to make it to the top. At first it was easy going, and then I hit even steeper sections.

I don't know what was worse the steepness of some of the road or how hard my heart was beating. As I neared the top to the steepest part (over 20%) I could barely move. I looked up at the wall of road ahead and above me and nearly died thinking about getting up it. After awhile I had to stop and walk part of the steep section due to my pounding heart more than the slow progress. Still I broke my best running time on the course from 1996 by over 6 minutes, which was my goal. GPS says 11.10 miles in 1:07:18. If my GPS is correct I added an extra mile to the course. I found an old running friend Chris Poulous at the top and it turned out the Ranger taking money at the bottom was a former neighbor from years ago. Chris was paying money to her when I went by and in the ensuing conversation, she figured out that she knew me. As I had feared, I got lost and also had to walk. On the other hand the ride down was a blast!

When Dave did the ride a few days earlier, he started before dawn and the road was dark. He rode out on the course and back and then did the whole thing over again on his mountain bike. He called it one of his hardest workouts. This coming from a workout king. I just did the ElliptiGO portion. It was tough, but I don't think I completed my mission. I need to get to the top without walking next time-if possible. I may even ride a dual assault on Pack Monadnock with Dave real soon early one morning if the weather cooperates.

This week is the ElliptiGO World Championships. They ride up Mt. Palomar in California. We need an east coast version. Pack Monadnock would make a killer course!

Pack Monadnock
Miller State Park

September 23-29
Sunday: 0 miles
Monday: 8 miles
Tudsday: 20 miles
Thursday: 8 miles
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 30 miles
total 72 miles
total ElliptiGO miles: 2031 miles (14 weeks)

Sep. 30-October 6
Sunday: 0 miles
Monday: 30 miles
Tuesday: 20 miles
Wednesday: 0 miles
Thursday: 30 miles
Friday: 0 miles   (92 seconds of running)
Saturday: 21 miles  (5 minutes of running) Pack Monadnock
total 101 miles
total ElliptiGO miles: 2131 miles (15 weeks) 

October 7-13
Sunday: 0 miles (5 minutes of running)
Monday: 30 miles
Tuesday: 20 miles (5 minutes of running)
Wednesday: 15 miles
Thursday: 0 miles
Friday: 30 miles
Saturday: 0 miles
Sunday: 0 miles (fighting a bug)
total 95 miles
total ElliptiGO miles 2226 miles (16 weeks)

Most of my weekday rides now are about getting home before it gets dark. I am starting to run (patiently). I have only run a total of 8 miles since getting the ElliptiGO. I did four 2 mile runs. Each run felt OK except for twinges in my glutes and muscles around my hip. Each run left my left side sore for a couple of days. My new goal was to only run until the muscles in my hip rebelled. I made it 92 seconds the first day and then the glutes started clamping shut around the hip joint so I just stopped). The next runs I got to 5 minutes (around the block) and stopped with no problems during the run or after.

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