Thursday, July 27, 2017

Monadnock: It's Like Wednesday Night Worlds without the Bike

I found a new midweek workout to get my hurt on. This summer, Soups and others have been meeting at Mt Monadnock state park on Wednesday nights for a run up the White Dot Trail to the summit. In case you've never hiked Monadnock, it is steep and scrambly. The term "run" is used loosely. The last half of the climb is slow motion hands and feet death slog.

What is so cool about it is in minutes, you pop out above tree line, and it is like whoa, how did I get this high so fast?! On a week night, there are very few others on what is normally a severely crowded trail on weekends.  The White Dot Trail gains about 1800ft to the 3165ft summit. My fastest so far is 32 and a half minutes.

A diverse cast of characters come out for this craziness. Coach Kathy from the Dublin school sometimes joins with her Nordic ski juniors. I haven't had a chance to meet her yet. Some of the kids are fit!

From the state park HQ at the bottom, the climb starts out harmless enough, actually runnable. Then it pitches up at an angle that makes your neck hurt to look at it. All semblance of running disappears. Breathing goes to max and you settle into a pace just below VOmax. It is both an individual time trial and a sprint race against the others. Some excel on the gnarly or downhill spots, others like myself do better just grinding out obscenely steep slab pitches. Just try not to hurl upon reaching the summit in front of the few people that are up there, wondering why you are staggering and breathing so hard. Fun times! Upon recovering on the summit with its 360 panoramic view, I can't help but think how fortunate I am to still feel this great in my mid-50's.

The hands get put to good use, and sticky rubber soles are pretty much mandatory if you want to take the fast "A-lines." This is where approach shoes like the Scarpa Cruz or La Sportiva TX3 prove very helpful. I've tried both now, and I think the Scarpa's have slight advantage.

It is a bit of a pain in the ass to get over there at peak rush hour from work, but its so much more rewarding that doing the same three minute climbs by the office for midweek intensity work.  I hope to do this more often. Wonder how it will prep me for the Mt Washington bicycle hillclimb next month? At this point, I'm not going to stress over that at all. This year will likely be my last racing a bike up the Rock Pile, right on my 55th birthday. Maybe a subject for another post...

Anyway, I'll leave you with a few pics from this week's blast to the summit.

Soups reaching the summit

Only three of us this week, Soups, myself and Isaac

Soups sporting a halo

Night glow settling in to the east with the Packs and Wapack range

Soups in the Pumpelly "cave." Soups hadn't been there before so I showed him on the way down. Pretty easy to find now with 0.25mi herd path beaten down along the ledge it sits on

And there was a monster blueberry bush at the cave...

Yum yum

Top side of the cave. Looks like original tin or some kind of tin alloy

Taking the steepest trail on the mountain back down, Spellman. It is practically straight down!