Somehow I managed to talk Jen and Alex into coming along today to train on the Ohlone trail for the May 18th race. I'm very glad they came along, for I think my motivation to do any kind of long run would have dissipated quickly by myself, given the heat and the climb.
We started at the Sunol trailhead on the Indian Joe Creek Trail, which quickly turned into the Canyon View Trail. From there, we took
McCorkle, but it becomes the Ohlone Wilderness trail. This trail runs from Mission Peak to Del Valle Park in Livermore, and you can read more about this area here.
From Sunol, the trail climbs immediately. Jen's comment: "That wasn't much of a warmup!" True, but muscles being warm enough quickly fell from our minds. The trail climbs through some foliage on the Canyon View trail, and by the time it turns into the McCorkle
trail, trees fall away to leave the trail baking in the sun. Don't get me wrong. Sunol is beautiful, and I definitely want to come back here to bring the dogs and explore Little Yosemite. (Sunol is an off-leash, voice control park in undeveloped areas-- yay dogs!) Today however, we were on a training run, and I was too worried about having enough water for myself to carry water for the dogs.
For the next 7 miles or so, the trail climbs (and climbs and climbs) over rolling, still-green hills to Rose Peak (eventually to Del Valle). We did not make it all the way to Rose Peak today, but three things became apparent through the course of the run.
1) This is a tough trail. I remember why the uphill seemed to go on and on. It DOES go on and on. With a few exceptions, it's runnable (i.e., not crazy-steep) for most of the trail, but it is a relentless uphill that leaves one hoping for a respite at the top of every hill, only to find out the trail continues to ascend just over the ridge to the NEXT ridge.
2) I need to eat more on runs. My body feels great now, having had a brilliant 6-course meal for dinner (who wouldn't be feeling great after that?), but just over 2:15 into the run, I felt like I hit a wall. Note to self: EAT MORE. Normally this would not be a problem (food being one of my guiding passions), but I often forget to eat when I run with other people.
3) Downhill running technique makes a difference. After DNFing at 9 trails last year because of knee pain on the hills, I decided that I needed to train more hills and work on my downhill technique. I have trained more hills, but today I was worried because there was much more downhill- pretty much half the run. I practiced staying relaxed with a quick turnover,
leaning forward as much as my scaredy-cat self would allow, and I had not a bit of knee pain. Yay!
Sunol is another area which might be best for spring runs. Right now, the wildflowers spill off the trail and green still colors the grasses covering the hills, but the heat promises to turn this area blazing hot in a few months. Sunol is a huge park though, and definitely worth more exploration runs. Count on seeing more runs in Sunol, perhaps just not until September or October...
One lovely part of today's run was spending a moment in Calaveras Creek which runs right by the trailhead parking lot. Alex and I waded around for a minute, the cold water doing wonders for our sore feet. Jen did us one better and submerged her whole body. From there, we hit old town Sunol for some much needed blood sugar raising.
Finally, I will leave you with a raaw-ther silly picture of me looking very dirty (and maybe just a little flirty) taken by the fabulous Ms. Jen.