Sunday, February 1, 2015

Countdown to Amicalola: The Occurrence at Hawk Hill

Looking across the Vermilion Valley towards Indiana, from atop the Forest Glen tower. The day was as gray as this picture shows.

Date: February 1, 2015
Current Week: 01/28/15 - 02/4/15
Days until Amicalola: 52
Pounds to next weight goal: 10.4 (+1.2)
Total Loss Last Week: 2.2
Weight Goals Met: 0
Minutes Exercised, Yesterday: 45
Minutes Exercised, Last Week: 250
Minutes Exercised, Week: 156
Miles Hiked, Yesterday: 1.16
Miles Hiked, Week: 1.16
Miles Hiked, 2015: 2.66

In a lesser, more measurable way my hike yesterday was of little consequence. I only averaged a bit faster than 1.5 miles an hour, and hiked just a bit over a mile. However, in a sense that is not measurable but much more important, it was kind of a big deal.

The Hawk Hill "trail" is a path at Forest Glen that follows an old road bed into the bottom lands near the Vermilion River. For most of its length its relatively flat, but once it passes the area where an old fire tower (now an observation tower with a commanding view of the river valley) it descends sharply. In terms of real height it isn't a big hill, maybe around 40-50 feet in total elevation change from top to bottom. But it makes that change very quickly.  Only a few places on the River Ridge backpack trail are steeper than it, and none of them are as long of an incline as this one. It's one of the few places in the area where you feel like you are hiking up (or down) a steep incline you would find on the Appalachian Trail.

Hawk Hill and I have some history, none of too pleasant.  As far back as I can remember, even back to when I hiked every trail in the park in high school one year, I've never been able to make it up the hill entirely without stopping. No matter what, at some point (usually around the "mid-point" bench) I would have to stop and catch my breath. Until yesterday, that is.

Yesterday I made it down and up the hill twice. Both times I stopped for a short check of my progress on my fitness app at the bottom. Both times I stopped to catch my breath at the stick my sister, my brother, and I agreed was the turnaround point. However, I never stopped going down the hill, or coming back up it.  I even threw in a trip up to the top of the tower, happy in my victory over the two trips up the hill.

How did I accomplish this? For one, my exercise during the past month had helped me handle the hike up a bit better. However, the biggest change was a strategic change. I analyzed my previous problems ascending hills, and came to the conclusion that I was being too impatient. Rather than pacing myself to a point where I was still pushing myself, but could still keep breathing, I could make it up without stopping. Before I would push hard at the first, blowing all of my energy and quickly running out of breath. By cutting back my pace, which wasn't that much slower than my "quick" pace, I still made it up the hill no worse for wear than the times I had to stop.

True, I went up the second straight day on the scale. This being Super Bowl Sunday, I anticpate this weekend looking really bad come tomorrow.  I can think pizza, beer, and chocolate chip cookies for that. However, because of that strong effort on that blasted hill, I'm OK with how this weekend has gone.

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