Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Signal Hill Time Trial Walk

When I woke up early last Saturday morning (July 20th), the question in my mind was: is it going to be a jog/walk with AREC (A Running Experience Club) for a mostly flat 6 to 10 miles, or with the Long Beach Area Walking Club for 6 miles up and down hills (5 major climbs)? With slightly sore thigh muscles from doing a short spinning workout the previous day, I decided it was going to be Signal Hill because I didn’t think I would be able to do a jog/walk workout. Believe me, my muscles get easily sore nowadays due to the cholesterol medication. Besides, since I’ve been using my GPS watch again, I wanted to find out how fast I could cover the course strictly by walking, and compare it to the flat walk with AREC a couple of months back in 13:05 minutes per mile pace over six miles. I’ve tried walking as fast as I can at Signal Hill before, but without the GPS watch, I wasn’t sure exactly what the distance was even though it was advertised as 6 miles. This time, equipped with the Garmin, I was all set to do a time trial. It was going to be one of those non-socializing days so I had to leave the rest of the group behind.
When I hit the first mile which included the steep Hill Street at 14:05, I knew it was going to be a fast walk if I could keep it up all the way. So I kept on pushing which made it feel  just as tough walking as fast as possible uphill as it was running. When I was gasping for breath during the steep climbs, I exhorted myself to push more and go faster. I don’t know if I actually went faster, but at least I put in the effort. And when I crested the hill, I tried my best to follow through and keep the pace up. So on it went on the roller coaster terrain of Signal Hill with me slowing slightly on the dirt trails for fear of slipping, then picking it up again on the pavement.
          At the pace I was going, I wondered  if I could catch up with the tail end of the walking group in one of the loops. Was I hoping to lap somebody? It was in the back of my mind but wasn't expecting it, however with 1 mile to go for me, I caught up with 3 people and a dog who had 2 miles to go and passed them. When I was almost at the 6 mile point, instead of turning right towards where the finish was, I turned left merely because I was curious to see where a certain street (Combellack) led to before turning back. Thus I was able to extend my walk another mile. When I hit 7 miles, I clicked off the GPS watch and checked my average pace. It was 13:34 minutes per mile. My goodness, that’s only a difference of 29 seconds per mile compared to my fastest pace on a flat course! How exhilarating to be able to walk that fast on a hilly course. My time for the 7 mile distance was exactly 1 hour and 35 minutes.

Since this was a time trial, does that mean I’m going to do it again in a few weeks to see if my walking fitness level has improved? Frankly, I don’t know if I can walk any faster than that, but I guess we shall see down the line if the spirit moves me again to try it.
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