It's a good kind of pain, I guess, but I'm hurting today. My quads are sore to the touch right now after 4 hours of hills on Saturday.
My plan was to use the automobile toll road on Mt. Mansfield for some hill work. It's 4.3 miles from the parking area to the summit, with 2600' of climbing on the way up. Last year, I did a triple on this dirt road - 25.8 miles and 7800' of climbing. But, given my hamstring issues and the fact that I'm entered in a race next Sunday, my plan for Saturday was "only" a double ascent - 17 miles and just over 5000' of climbing.
When I saw the sports doc and chiropractor on Friday, they suggested that I take trekking poles with me if I was going to attempt this workout. They said that if the hamstring got too fatigued, the poles would help to protect me from further injury.
I got to the parking area a little bit later than I'd planned, and I started up around 8:00 a.m. The first ascent went pretty well overall. I got to the summit in 84 minutes. Last year, when I did the triple, I made it to the top the first time in 79 minutes. I didn't feel like I'd pushed that hard, so I was happy with my time. I talked to a Green Mountain Club volunteer at the summit for a couple minutes and then started the descent, telling the volunteer that I'd see her again in a couple hours. On the descent, I could feel the hamstring really limiting my stride. I took it easy and made it to the car in about 2:20. I grabbed some supplies and headed right back up. By this point in time, the sun had come out and it was getting warm. But, the forecast called for afternoon showers, so I kept all my rain gear with me.
I was listening to music on my iPhone as I ran. I was just over halfway to the summit when I thought I heard thunder. It seems like every time I hike this mountain, I have to deal with bad weather. I turned off my music so I could listen more closely. I didn't want to continue the ascent if a storm was bearing down on me. For 10 minutes, everything was quiet. I was almost ready to turn my music on again when I heard more thunder. This time, there were multiple rumbles in short succession. I was now a mile from the summit. The last mile is exposed at places and I was carrying two portable lightning rods in my hands. I decided it was safest to turn around. After I turned around, I never heard any more thunder, so I may have been overly cautious. But, overly cautious is certainly better than stupidly dead.
I was pretty slow on the second descent and just before I got to the car, it started to rain. In total, it took me just over 4 hours to cover 15 miles with about 4500' of climbing. (It's scary to think that this road is slightly less steep than the Hardrock course.) The road opens to car traffic next weekend, so I can't repeat this workout before WS. But, I have some other good hill workouts in mind for the next few weeks. My hamstring seems to do better on hilly terrain than flat terrain right now, and I need the hill work for Western States. Plus, given the lost training because of the hamstring, I know I'll be hiking rather than running a lot at WS. So, hiking on hilly terrain is probably more race specific for me right now.
By the time I got home on Saturday, I could tell that I'd trashed my quads. I was surprised after the DRB 50K that my quads weren't trashed, but this workout was much steeper than that course. It will take a few days for the soreness to dissipate, but the temporary pain is worth the long term benefit.
I have a physical therapy appointment this afternoon. Hopefully, the therapist won't touch my quads at all. The hamstring continues to improve and it seems that the tightness is more and more isolated to the biceps femoris portion of the muscle group. I'm working on that area with my foam roller on a daily basis right now, and I can really feel a couple tight spots in the muscle.
The chiropractor told me on Friday that he thought I was two weeks away from being 100%. That's encouraging in some ways, but also discouraging because I'm entered in an ultra next weekend. If I had to guess right now, I'd say that I'm about 50-50 for starting that race.