Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Running up Bison Hill

Last Saturday I had my latest Long Run and once again I loved it.  Before I get into the highlights and the detail of running up Bison Hill, let me give you some key numbers:

Distance: 12.3 miles
Calories: 1676
Elevation: 1,072 feet
Pee / Poo stops: 0
Other runners: one couple
Snotty cyclists: 0
Cheery cyclists: 1
Food / drink: 0

As Hannah wasn't kayaking, it meant I could have a hilly run, instead of the Grand Union Canal towpath and I was eager to head up around Dunstable Downs.  Besides, it was the first proper outing for my new Saucony Omni 13 running shoes.

Bison Hill
Around the Dunstable area, lots of cyclists like to take on Bison Hill which is one of the best hills around here.  As a cyclist I also include myself in taking part in the challenge which is well tracked on Strava.  Now it's important to remember there are a few different versions of the Bison Hill challenge but they all seem to start at the T-junction with Dagnall Road.

Also I took the road route, having slipped my way down the footpath to the road and the start, I got to the T junction start.  The conditions were pretty good - no wind, drizzle, cold (but I was as warm as toast) and little traffic.  I thought I would aim for the 0.6 mile mark which is generally accepted as the finish for cyclists but of course the road continues afterwards.

The first 200 - 300 metres climb gently to the first corner and then the gradient becomes noticeably steeper and this continues for about 0.25 mile with one or two small bends.  I guess the steepest gradient is about 1:5 or before it starts to level out by the car park on the left hand side.  It was at that point my breathing was pretty heavy and hard but I felt I'd paced myself alright.  And it was once I'd reached the car park a cyclist passed me.  He said, in a "gasping for breath" way, he had been trying to catch me up and it had taken him some time and something about me running well.  I said "thanks" as he inched ahead of me and then his speed increased as the road started to level off; it would have been nice to have kept up with him for a while but I couldn't.

At that point another cyclist passed me, also breathing heavily.  So heavy was his breathing, he didn't attempt to speak to me and this was absolutely fine and he was making a really good effort.  Therefore he doesn't count as a snotty cyclist.

I was looking forward to checking my time on Strava once I'd got home, because I'm now a bit of a convert.

I know that when I'm cycling my time getting up the 0.6 mile climb is a little under 5 minutes (on a good day!) and this puts me in a reasonable position with the Strava segment ratings.  However, there is NO RUNNING SEGMENT!  I am amazed none of the other local runners have set up a segment, or perhaps it's considered too hazardous?  Nevertheless I estimate my time as being 7 or 8 minutes.

I will just have to set it up and see a) what my times are b) how I improve c) compare to other local runners.

Calf muscles
You don't often hear me blog about self inflicted injuries.  I could feel my calf muscles working and pulling hard on the steepest part of the climb.  The following day I could really feel them and happily I'm fine now.  This is the consequence of not running many hills lately!

So there y' go
Bison Hill.  Quite a climb and I'm so pleased I did it.  Those few minutes running up Bison Hill can be agony but it is just for a few minutes and worth doing from time to time, even on a longish run.

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