Wednesday, April 8, 2009


The La Jolla Half is in less than three weeks. It is known in the area as being a killer. Particularly, the hill at mile 6 is a killer. I had never been to Torrey Pines, so I thought I should check out that hill for myself. Well... it is every bit as steep as people say. I actually had thought that some had exaggerated. Not so. This is a hill that walkers struggle with. I saw people leaning over as they went up the hill for a leisurely walk. There is no way to maintain a good pace up this thing. You just have to hope only to lose a few minutes.

I found a few pictures online that demonstrate the pitch of this monster hill that goes up for over a mile.

Here is the elevation profile from my Garmin*. At one point the grade is over 15%. Yikes! What sadist put this in the middle of a half marathon. There is also a short but very steep hill around mile 12. I have heard that it is harder because it is so late in the race.

Why, you may ask, am I putting myself through such a grueling race**? Well, why do we ever run these things? But one big incentive, however, is a brilliant marketing scheme called the "Triple Crown." If you run the Carlsbad, La Jolla and America's Finest City half marathons you get an additional Triple Crown medal. Seriously, how much can those medals cost? A few bucks? There are a TON of people that wouldn't be running La Jolla if it weren't for that silly little medal. I am pretty sure that AKA Alice is one of them. It is also has spectacularly beautiful views. Much of the race is along the Pacific Ocean. I hope I can enjoy the view.

I ran with my friend, Heather, who is training for her very first half marathon. That is some hutzpah, my friends, to chose such a difficult race for your first one. I am excited for her. We started out together for about a half mile or so. The hill was at the beginning of our run and she didn't want to burn out too early, so she slowed down to conserve her energy. I wanted to see if I could run the entire thing, so I kept going. We both knew I wouldn't be running the entire thing with her anyway, since our pace is so different. I am happy to say that I ran the entire hill without stopping.
My splits were all over the place***. I ran with Heather for a while and then would run ahead on my own. In the seventh mile, I decided to push the pace a bit. It was nice to know that I could take it to a higher gear in the middle of a tough, hilly run. My pace going back down the HILL was pretty slow. Running down is almost as hard as running up. It doesn't make me feel like my lungs are going to explode, but I felt like I had to put it in a lower gear to keep from careening down and sliding on loose gravel.
I did close to ten miles. I felt good. It was freezing when we started (freezing for us...around 46 degrees) and hot when we ended, but I think it was similar to what it might be like on race day. My left shin started hurting. I had shin issues last year, so I am going to pay attention and ice, ice, ice. My friend, Heather, ran nine miles, which is the farthest she has ever run. Woo hoo!! The best news is that she felt great!
So while I had a good hill run on Sunday, yesterday I felt sluggish. As I was struggling along in my neighborhood, thinking I was kicking it into gear, I looked down at my Garmin only to see my pace hovering around 10 minutes. I put off my run until the afternoon and it was hot. I hadn't really drank much during the day, so I was thirsty throughout the entire 4.5 miles. It was the first run in a while that I didn't enjoy. It wasn't the worst run I have had, but it was definitely something that I only did because it was on the schedule. I know, by now, that I will have mediocre runs now and then. I hope that my tempo run tomorrow feels better.
*I ran an out and back (more like up and back), but the reason that the ascent and descent are not mirrored is because I ran back several times to check on my friend.

**In addition to the elevation profile, it is often hot during April here. Last year, there was record heat (temps in the 80's) and they ran out of water. Once you get in the park, you lose the ocean breeze and it is a long, hot climb.
mile 1--10:58
mile 2--9:50
mile 3--9:24
mile 4--9:48
mile 5--10:10
mile 6--9:57
mile 7--8:50
mile 8--10:13
mile 9--9:15
.90--10 minute pace


Janice {Run Far} said...

wow, that is a crazy hill. Good luck with that. I am sure you will be fine. There is something so full filling about reaching the top of a hill like that and knwoing you did your best. said...

That's some impressive hill running! Whoa...

But I have to admit, I heard about the Triple Crown for that series and thought to myself, "I can do that someday... it's not that far away from my house!"

Good plan to listen to your body and ice.

Janet B. said...

OMG you are insane! That hill is a MONSTER!

Ice those shins and stretch your calves - a lot!

Oz Runner said...

yikes, that hill looks ferocious...props to your friend for being willing to tackle this tough course for her first half....

AKA Alice said...

You are absolutely right! I probably wouldn't be running this race either if not for the triple crown. It's a brutal hill. I ran up it last year in a SDTC training run (which I'll do again this weekend). I agree, the downhill portion into La Jolla is actually tougher on the shins and calves. BUT...WE CAN DO IT!!!

BTW...Lots of track club peeps are saying to run with fluids as the water stations are pretty spread out. I don't pike running with the fuel belt, bit I think I will this time.

AKA Alice said...

GAH!!! I'm typing from the road on my iPhone... I meant to write. "I don't like to run with my fuel belt.."

Southbay Girl said...

that hill looks narly!!! But I've done Carlsbad...should I just attempt La Jolla just to get 2/3 of the way to the triple crown???

Irish Cream said...

WHOA. That is one crazy hill, and one seriously awesome hill run! I am positive that you are seriously going to rock La Jolla! In the meantime, ice those shins :)


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