My gum swelling finally receded as I rested and hydrated. After a great week of
training, Sunday came the long run. The strategy was to take it easy during
the first climb up Mission Peak and see if I could run all the way up on the second.
Driving down on Mission Blvd, I had two bananas and half a glass of water. At
8:20am, the sun was high up but the air was chilly. In a windbreaker and shorts,
I strolled through the Ohlone college campus toward the hills. Once on the trail,
however, I broke into a trot. It just felt more natural.
It had been a cool week and Thursday's slight rain packed the trail and left no
dust on it, which made it very pleasant to run on.
I kept an easy pace, breathing smoothly at four-step-in and five-step-out.
Midway, I took off the jacket and wraped it around the waist as sweat poured
down. My joints and feet felt good at the end of the first loop. After another
banana and more water in the car, instead of running back up the same way, I
drove to the Stanford Ave side for a change of scenary.
It was about 10:00am when I grabbed a bottle of water and started the second
climb. The air turned balmy and the trail was crowded. I still tried to keep my
own sweet pace but from the beginning, a six-foot white-haired guy in his
fifties took me on. Long legs gave him the leverage and he was amazingly fast
for a hiker. I passed him early on where the trail was relatively flat and never
looked back. My experience had been that running, however slow, was faster
About a mile into the hills and in the middle of a major climb, I heard heavy
breathing on my left and realized that someone's coming up from behind. A
runner, I thought. I was rarely passed by runners uphill, not because I was fast
but there weren't many on Mission Peak. So I was floored when I saw the guy
shooting by in big strides.
Our speeds were similar and the guy did not widen his 30-yard lead. I tried to keep
my easy pace but now and then could not help giving chase. It was not until another
flat leg of the trail, after the last cattle guards, that I caught up with him.
"Great job! You hiked faster than I ran!" I smiled.
"Thank you. You are not bad yourself. It used to take me two hours to climb up
five years ago. Nowadays, it takes 50min." He smiled back with pride in his
voice and his face covered in sweat. English was not his native language.
"That's great. I usually run up in about an hour. I'll see you at the top or
somewhere up there in case you pass me."
With that, the race was on. I reached first the bottom of the slope before the
bathroom at the foot of the summit. He pressed on and did pass me in the
middle. I regained the lead at the top and charged toward the final big incline.
I forgot my rhythm and sped up. He must have been tired, I thought, as I was
expecting to hear his heavy breathing drawing near. At the top, I turned and
looked down and he was no where to be seen. Okay. I would pay a penalty
for my vanity later but now I could relax.
The second downhill was awkward as usual but the Z-Trail I wore today had more
cushion. So I did not look too bad. Back at the trail head and to my pleasant surprise,
the water fountains and spigots were unwrapped after eight months. I rinsed my feet
well before going back to the car. Today's run took me less than four hours.