Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Unplanned Signal Hill Workout

Last Saturday morning, I hadn’t planned on working out with the Long Beach Area Walking Club. I had set my alarm for 7 a.m. as usual but was already awake at 5:15, so instead of trying to go back to sleep, I thought I might just show up for the Signal Hill 6 mile walk even though I didn’t RSVP for it. The usual company was there: Donna, Michelle, Paul, Tiger (the boxer dog), Jennifer and her Malaysian roommate, Evelyn. Upon approaching the first long hill, I stepped up my pace and Donna cajoled me saying “this is not a running club!”. She had anticipated that I was going to run up the hills again and she was right. Paul yelled “show off”, and I responded that I was cold and needed to get warm. Michelle then said “that’s because you don’t have any body fat”. I could have started laughing then, but I could only hear myself gasping for breath. Believe me, it doesn’t take very much for me to go anaerobic while running nowadays. Of course even when you are running very slowly up hills, you could still easily go anaerobic. About three quarters of the way up that hill, I wanted to walk the rest of the way, but because I didn’t want to shame myself to the rest of the group, I let muscle memory and previously learned tenacity take over and pushed on till I reached the top. That hill felt longer but when I checked my watch, it only lasted about 3 ½ minutes. Well, ok, technically I don’t really run anymore, but short distances like that, I am still able to do even on tough hills. And so it went for the whole 6 mile workout. Run up all the hills and walk the downhills with the rest of the group. By the way, this was a faster group than the one I walked with a few weeks ago because we finished in about 1:45 instead of 2 hours. My goodness, that’s about 2 ½ minutes per mile faster!
Well, 6 miles might have been the official end to the workout (which ended up 6 ½ for me because of the running and going back to the group to walk with them), but not for me. When they turned left to go back to their cars, I turned right and started jogging up the steepest (but fortunately short) incline of Signal Hill and kept my walk/run going for another 2 ½ miles. I certainly didn’t expect to cover 9 miles that day but when it was all said and done, I was happy that I was still able to do it. Heck, I haven’t walked or ran more than 6 miles since last summer.
I want to apologize again to my co-walkers for running a little bit during our workout. I do appreciate your company very much and that’s why I joined your meet up club. I cannot run with a running group because they run continuously for miles and miles which I couldn’t do anymore. Short bursts is all I can now and I needed those short efforts to trigger my endorphins. Besides, I had to burn the calories from the extra meal that I ate the previous night.
Other notes about that walk -There were stairs on some of the trails of Signal Hill but it was difficult running up and down them because they were too long for one stride and too short for two strides.
-I love the feeling of gasping and being out of breath and running up those hills took care of that. God, I miss that feeling which used to sustain me mentally every day for years! With cycling, I have to be content with a lower level of sustenance.
- The aftermath of the infrequent hill running - my back has been hurting from leaning into the hill while climbing.
-2:13:12 for 9 miles of mostly walking interspersed with uphill running. I’ve walked faster than that on flat terrain.

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