by ryanhall | Sep 13, 2010 |
Race week is finally here as I begin to rest for the ING Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon this coming Sunday. I have been living the dream for the past couple of months. Camped up in the mountains at 8,000 feet, putting in week after week of hard training in preparation for both this coming half marathon and the Chicago Marathon to be run in a month’’ time. Now it’s time to begin to rest and allow my body to absorb all the hard running.
On Sunday I ran my last significant long run before Philly. It was one of my favorite long runs of all time. I ran a run I have been longing to do ever since I first drove from Stanford to Mammoth for a pre-season camp. On the trip to Mammoth there is a section of road from the 395 to the entrance of Yosemite National Park on the 120 that is called Tioga Pass. It is a brutal climb with majestic views. It was one of those runs on my bucket list that I was eager to get to. This past Sunday I finally got my chance.
Tioga pass climbs from 7,000 to 10,000 feet over 12 miles, but that stat doesn’t do the run justice. The majority of the climb happens over a six-mile stretch, which makes for the steepest paved road grade I have ever run–and at an increasing altitude, to boot. Part way into the run I could see the elevation sign off in the distance and was sure it was going to say 9,000 feet, as I was already hurting and was sure I had already climbed a significant part of the pass. It was a little disheartening when I got closer to the sign and saw that it marked 8,000 feet. I still had 2,000 feet of climbing over the next four miles. Then, I could see the road winding through the valley miles in front of me as it doubled back on a nearby mountain. At that point I decided I better stop looking up and start looking forward because the road ahead was going to be trying. By the time I reached the summit I was physically tired but my spirit was totally refreshed!
I don’t know what it is about running roads that climb up mountains but I absolutely love it. Sure it is hard, but I think that is exactly what I love. I love challenges. Looking forward to Phili I know that the race will be a challenge, but it’s a challenge that I am looking forward to in the same way I look forward to epic uphill runs.
The great thing about running Philly is that I have a positive experience from last year to build from. Here is a list of some things that I am looking forward to reliving once again:
1. Meeting “Rocky” and running up the “Rocky” steps near the finish line.
2. The enthusiasm from the crowd along the way.
3. Running with the Kenyans.
4. Pre-race jogs around downtown taking in the impressive city buildings.
5. Post-race food from The Reading Market.