Scaling Mountains, Both Real and Virtual

Happy Monday, and holy quads, Batman!

Why holy quads, you ask? Because apparently my MiniYeti challenge at the gym is turning me into a real-life yeti… or at least a mini one… and at least for last weekend, anyway.

Virtual Mountains

On Saturday Drew and I hit the gym at apparently the perfect time – there was hardly anyone there! All the Expresso bikes were open, so I hopped on, did a warm-up lap of the virtual track, and then dove into Yeti Day 4: Dragon Fire:

Blurry action shot of Dragon Fire

Blurry action shot of Dragon Fire

Dragon Fire was my fastest mountainy course yet, which I was proud of because it was also the first “medium” level course I’d tried. Granted, it was relatively flat, or at least a very gradual mountain until the big elevation spike toward the end, but it still felt like an accomplishment! Now I only have 2 courses left before the end of December, and then I will have achieved official Mini Yeti status.

My challenge so far

My challenge so far

Real Mountains(ish)

After letting my quads feel the burn on Saturday, I dragged myself out of bed the next day to join the Sunday Morning Shamrocks (SMSs) at Shammies HQ. It had been quite a while since I ran with the Sunday morning group (Easter was my last good Sunday morning run, and then my knee troubles started), and I was itching to get back out there.

Let me say first that, much like at the Shamrock Turkey Trot, I went with expectations of walking. At said Turkey Trot, E said she was going to start walking up and down the “mountain” in town during Sunday morning runs, in an effort to keep her fitness up despite her injury. I miss my Shammies like whoa, so I told her I’d join her for the foreseeable future.

That brings us to yesterday. I got word from E that she was going to “waddle to the base of the mountain, then power up that bad boy,” and I decided to tag along. I met up with the rest of the SMSs at HQ, and when the bulk of the group ran off for their usual 5-6 miles, E and I, joined by N who is also injured, got ready to waddle off to the mountain.

And then, much like at the Turkey Trot, we just started running.

It wasn’t an all-out sprint or anything, just nice and easy, and man… it felt good. Well, if I’m honest, it was pretty terrible, actually. Despite all my virtual mountain climbing on the Expresso bike, my fitness has dropped way down, so I was sucking wind very quickly. But, so were E and N, so I was in good company! And, despite it not feeling great, it still felt good to be out there again.

We were all testing out our respective injuries to see how they felt, and ran without stopping just over a mile to the base of the mountain, keeping roughly an 11:40 pace. I was so jazzed to be running around the pond – my usual running haunt – again – and jazzed that it was 50*+ in December!! – so I broke out the phone to snap a blurry photo of the path:

IMG_5341N thought I was trying to take a selfie, so she photobombed me… and then was disappointed that I hadn’t actually been taking a selfie. So I took one, so she could photobomb me for real:

IMG_5342Now, before I continue, I need to make a disclaimer – this mountain that we hiked up wouldn’t be considered a mountain anywhere else in the country (except the midwest, I suppose), but it sure felt like one as we were speed-walking up it! I kept MapMyRun going from our starting point at HQ to when we got back, even though I wasn’t running the whole time, and it reports an elevation gain of 301 feet… pretty much all at once!

IMG_5345Where was I? Right. We ran to the base of the “mountain,” then proceeded to charge up a paved (though not in very good condition) path. If I thought I was winded from running, yikes! That walk up the path was no joke. But we were rewarded with a pretty fantastic view from the top:

Boston skyline

Boston skyline

View of the pond - my favorite running spot

View of the pond – my favorite running spot

The walk back down was more challenging than expected; N told us there was an easier trail to go down than the one we walked up, so we followed her… only to end up walking down a steep, muddy, grass-and-rocks path that definitely wasn’t easier. But it made the hike feel legit!

Once back at the base, we tried running for a few short bursts, but E’s knee was starting to hurt, N was struggling, and my inner quad was feeling weak again so we all opted to walk back to HQ. Round trip our little jaunt was 3.89 miles, and while we were all a bit disappointed that our aches and pains came back at the end, it was still a fun morning!

And, happily, I feel pretty decent the next day! Despite the angry quads whenever I go up stairs, anyway. My foot feels fine, and the fact that I tackled my wee mountain makes me slightly more confident that my December goal race could still happen, even if I don’t run it.

Do you have a hill/legit mountain that you like to hike?

What’s your go-to way to keep your fitness up when you’re injured?
Or, if you don’t get injured much, what’s your favorite way to cross-train?


6 thoughts on “Scaling Mountains, Both Real and Virtual

  1. That cycling programs looks so awesome! I wish my gym had those. Or my bike, that would be awesome too. Your pond picture made me laugh- your pond is bigger than the “lake” I like to run around during spring and summer. I’m glad you were able to enjoy your hike/run. I hope it was just the downhill that re-aggravated the aches and pains and that they have gone away by now.

    • I love the Expresso bikes! They have regular racing courses, and a games mode too, where you can race around collecting coins and stuff. I tend to get bored on the regular bikes, so this kind is extra awesome πŸ™‚

      I’ve heard a few other people comment on the size of the “pond”… I guess it’s all relative! It has pond in the name, though there’s another pond in the state that I think is technically a lake, so who knows. The path around my pond is about 2 miles give or take a bit.

      The aches and pains seem to have gone away, knock on wood!

  2. I love this! I’m just coming off of an injury/still mildly injured, and I’ve been doing lots of spin classes and walking. I’m hoping your pain is totally gone by now! It’s awesome being able to run, but really unsettling to feel that pain again.

  3. Those bikes are so cool! My gym doesn’t have anything like that. But my once a week spin class is still a great way to work on strength and fitness without running. Glad you had a great walk/run/hike!

    • I love the Expresso bikes. A friend had told me about them years ago, but my old gym (in Watertown!) didn’t have them and I was sad. So I was super pumped to see them at my current gym! πŸ™‚

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