Sunday, August 24, 2008


So much for taking it easy.

Yesterday, I did 225 sit-ups and lifted weights (arms, shoulders and back). This morning as I sat in church, that Forrest feeling gripped me. I just felt like running. After a fueling of Gatorade, prunes and Clif bar, I headed to Percy Warner Park and dropped off a water bottle at the seven-mile mark of the super-hilly 11.2 run.

Mile One is uphill, and I arrived in 10:05. My goal, after seeing how I felt, was to go under a sub-10:00/mile pace and not to stop at the famous Nine Mile Hill, which has always gotten the better of me. I topped Three Mile Hill, which is a serious half-mile ascent, at a 9:58/mile average pace.

A fast dude went flying by me at the 4.5-mile mark, but I was in my own world on my own pace with my own goals. The next 1.25 miles is a gradual climb, sneaky in its difficulty, but I arrived at the top feeling in control. After a three-quarter mile descent, a short but very steep climb at 6.7 miles stared at me, fangs on display. Slowly, my body made its way up the hill. Sweat was beginning to pour, but the cloudy conditions, modest temperature and virtual shade were on my side. I arrived at 7.0 to retrieve my planted water bottle and to stretch my calves briefly.

For about a mile-and-a-half, the course rolls before Nine Mile Hill. This famous climb actually begins at 8.4 miles and ends at 9.25 miles. I visualized conquering this significant obstacle, which I had not successfully done without a rest in two or three previous tries. But I'm a different runner now - stronger, more experienced and certainly more driven.

My legs burned as I passed three women walkers. My running cap began to drip steadily, pouring sweat in different spots, including my face, legs and shoes, which were beginning to squish. Two more mounds awaited at 9.5 and 9.75, and I took them at a slow pace. At the last apex with only one mile remaining, my average pace was a 10:10/mile. It was time to kick the spurs.

I settled in to a fast pace on the downhill. Mr. Garmin began to reward my efforts, and my average pace began to drop. I neared the park entrance feeling almost like Sammy Wanjiru, yesterday's Olympic marathon winner who set an amazing Olympic record of 2:06:32 in less-than-ideal conditions. That's just a sickening pace of 4:49/mile for more than 26 miles!

My final time for 11.07 miles was 1:50:40, a 9:59/mile pace on the hilliest course I run. Total ascent was 3,139 feet. I'm pretty sure Mr. Garmin is shortchanging me a bit. My 13.1 miler a few weeks ago was 13.3 on, and another long run was inaccurate by a few tenths of a mile. So my pace may have been a 9:52. I'm loving that, given the course and conditions (probably 15-25 degrees warmer than what awaits in San Francisco in October).

Those of you who have run the 11.2 in PWP, what do you consider the equivalent? Is the 11.2 the same as a half marathon on moderate hills? Is it harder? I think it is, but I'm not sure where to peg it. Chuck? Donna? My fellow TNT-ers? What's your take?

I leave with some Fast Food Philosophy. How is it that the smart-mouthed Sonic guys eat so much junk but gain no weight?


Donna Clements said...

Wish I could offer an answer on the 11.2 Embarassingly enough, I haven't done that one... but I'd love to try it. I know there are some good hills in that park though.
One thing that I thing you can definitely count in your favor would be the lack of heat and humidity in the San Fran race. I think it makes a pretty big difference - Especially on a race day.
I think you're going to have a lot of fun that day! Can't wait to hear about it.
All the best to you and your cause!

Jim said...

Super Donna,

Thanks for the insight. Race days do seem easier with the adrenalin and people, especially if you have space to run.

I picked up a San Fran tourist guide at the library yesterday. Very exciting.

We need to run the 11.2 sometime, maybe late this fall before I take on the 26.2.

ChuckEastNashville said...


Congratulations on running and finishing the Warner 11.2. The course is a beast. While miles three and nine are impressive and tough hills, the 6.7 hill next to golf course makes my muscles burn.

I tell aspiring half-marathoners if you can finish Warner 11.2, you can complete Tom King or Country Music Half courses. The old Frostbite Half course at Montgomery Bell State Park was tough. Although having fewer hills, the grades were longer.

As far as timing and extrapolation are concerned, in 1982 I entered the old Music City Run 11.2. My race pace per mile was same as a flat and full marathon nine months later.

Those training for Boston Marathon say Warner's hills prepare you for a Heartbreak Hill, and nothing in Boston is as steep as our beloved local park.

Chuck Hargrove