Monday, November 8, 2010


Back when I stayed in Alaska all summer I would go hiking pretty often. I'd try to do one or two hikes every week and I developed my philosophy/strategy for hiking. I thought about how to make hiking more enjoyable, because I would sometimes have hikes that were fun and other times it was really difficult and just not fun. I figured out how to make hiking fun.

When you're hiking with other people one of the most frustrating things ever is making sure you go their pace. I've heard that it's also one of the hardest parts of mountaineering (which is just like hiking...only much, much more epic, painful, and difficult). I realized that I started to enjoy hiking much more when I went my own pace and didn't worry about how fast the other person went. On steep climbs I started counting my steps and having a goal of how many steps I would take before taking a 10 second break. I would take pretty small steps and would be going pretty slow, but I had more endurance. And I was much more comfortable giving myself personal goals instead of comparing myself with the people I was hiking with.

I remember hiking a 14er in the middle of the night with other Mines students, and close to the top of Quandry it's a pretty tough climb. I started doing my walk 100 steps, take a 10s break, keep going method. People passed me and some of them I eventually caught up with and beat them to the summit. Other people passed me and I never caught up to them. This shows that they are definitely more intense than me, but I was happy with the hike and had a really good time. I felt good about being able to pace myself and being content with my own speed.

When I was in high school I ran track a couple years. Pacing, however, was not my thing. I ran the 100m, long jump, and triple jump. None of which require endurance or pacing of any kind. For the 100m you just try to get a good start and then go all out to the finish line. The sad part was when I tried the 200 for the first time. I got 100m into the race and found myself only able to run (not sprint) to the finish line like the rest of the guys. It was mildly humiliating. I don't even want to imagine what would have happened if I did the 400, 800, 1600, etc. So it's safe to say that pacing and endurance are things that are pretty new to me.

One of the challenges of my ride next summer will be pacing and coordinating my pacing with my friends who will be coming with me. I'm reading a blog about a lady who rode from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, raising money for cancer. She did it by herself and sometimes mentions the good and bad things about doing it by herself. One day she passed by a swimming pool on a ridiculously hot day, but didn't have the guts to jump the fence so she could jump in it. I think that going with other people will be helpful for creating more peer pressure for doing stupid but fun things like that. On the same day she witnessed a couple that was biking the opposite way. The husband was flying up the hill and his wife was like a half mile back, walking her bike, feeling the pressure of her husband wanting to go much faster than she could. This doesn't sound like fun.

To solve the cooperative pacing issue, my idea is to have the slowest person set the pace. This depends on the faster guys being nice and not giving too much pressure to go faster. This way we can all stick together and have a good time. We'll be able to encourage each other and tell each other about stupid ideas we have.

Pacing will be an issue we'll have to deal with, but as long as we are honest about it, it won't be a big problem. Communication solves all kinds of issues.

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