Monday, September 30, 2013

Running on the AC100 Course

I set out this past Saturday to get in a nice, hard, long training run.  After volunteering at an aid station for the Angeles Crest 100 this summer, I knew at some point I needed to get out into the San Gabriel Mountains and experience some of the trails they had to offer. 

While the PCT winding through the San Gabriels is similar single-track to what I find nearly every weekend in the San Bernandino's around Big Bear, there is one significant difference: elevation.  At least in this specific section of trail, it was significantly higher than the usual 7k-ish feet in Big Bear. 

Mount Baden-Powell was the highest point on my outing this time.  It's the fourth highest peak in the San Gabriel Range, topping out at 9,407' according to the USGS.  Technically the AC 100 course doesn't go to the summit, instead turning down the PCT about 100' shy of the peak; I, however, couldn't resist the extra effort to see the view from the top.

The peak was very crowded, which surprised me, though I guess it shouldn't have.  It was a beautiful day out, and I passed an inordinate amount of hikers heading up the switchbacks to the summit in the morning.  After I spent some time enjoying the views, I headed back down the trail to complete my out and back run along the PCT to Islip Saddle and back. 

It was a solid effort, far more climbing than I was planning on, but it was a good confidence booster of a run in the buildup to a few races here in the near future.  What I found odd, is that I didn't really feel much effect from the altitude.  I felt great the whole time, and considering I live at around 2000', going up to over 9000' is quite a difference.  It's not that I think I've gained any physical benefits from the pretty much every weekend training at about 7k feet, but more so the mental benefits.  I know what to expect when I get up higher, and perhaps I just don't mentally allow my body to be affected by it.  Time will tell, as next year I plan on "getting higher" than I have all year long.

Run Stats:

Vincent Gap TH - Baden-Powell Summit - Islip Saddle - Vincent Gap TH
25.8 miles
7067' vertical gain

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