Distance Totals

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mauna Kea Access Road Training Run

After I signed up for the Mt Lemmon Marathon, I started my official training program on June 30th. The Mt lemmon Marathon offers a unique challenge of uphill running (+6000 ft) and finish in altitude (8,200 ft). Since I was vacationing on the Big Island of Hawaii, I decided to do a mini simulation training run for Mt Lemmon on the access road to the visitor center of the Mauna Kea Observatory. The access road starts at 6500 ft and ends at 9280 ft – so about 2800 ft elevation gain in 6.2 miles.  I figured it would be a good way to simulate the altitude of the MLM, even though the elevation gain is much steeper than for the race.

The end of the access road to the visitor center. Notice the steep grade on the right side, that levels off to reach the visitor center. 

I got dropped 2 miles from the access road by my family, and got a 2 miles warm-up with pretty much no elevation gain.

Mile 1 (6500 ft): 9:02 + 0 ft
Mile 2: 8:44  + 121 ft

Warm-up miles, just before entering the access road: 

(I am the white spot on the lower left corner of the picture)

Then the fun began at the access road:

Mile 3: 8:56  + 192 ft
Mile 4: 9:47 +278 ft
Mile 5: 10:10 + 346 ft
Mile 6: 12:43 + 599 ft
Mile 7: 12:49 + 468 ft
Mile 8: 15:02 + 774 ft
Mile 8.2: 10:22/mi + 77 ft  - finish at 9280 ft

At the "finish"...notice the "high grade" sign on the right side of the road:

Elevation Profile and Map of the run:

The good news is that I was able to finish the run in less than 1:30, 10:53 min/mi overall…and that I covered in about 10K half of the elevation gain of the MLM.  I also was not too much affected by the altitude, more so by the steepness of the grade. The bad news is that I really got my azz kicked between miles 5-8 and was not able to run the whole thing. During these miles, I pretty much alternated running and walking, with the last mile alternating between running 0.1 mile and walking 0.5 mile, as shown by the pace/elevation graph below:

My average heart rate was about 170 bpm – knowing that I average 140-145 on my easy runs. However on the last 3 miles, the walk/run heart rate profiles were really reminiscent of those observed during track intervals !

So this was a sort of confidence builder for Mt Lemmon, but knowing that I still have ways to go to get properly trained for that course.

After the run, at the visitor center with all the family:

A short hike from the visitor center takes you to the top of the hill with a lunar scenery and spectacular views to the Saddle Road: