Thursday, April 3, 2014


 While I’m based in the Denver area, my boss and several colleagues are in Phoenix which means I go down there at least once a year. In 2014, I’ve actually made two trips to the desert with a third coming up in May.

In year’s past, I usually got a single run in around the posh homes in the neighborhood adjacent to the Arizona Biltmore hotel. Of course, this year, I’m under a formally coached plan so that meant multiple workouts including the challenge of finding a 4% grade hill.

Last Wednesday the first order was the bike which was a fairly easy 45 minute, high spin, low resistance event. Much as I would have liked to get on a bike that actually measured and captured my performance, no such options were available at the resort fitness center. No matter, I was able to watch RPM and track my heart rate (though I forgot to pack my monitor –doh!)

During my ride, I asked the fitness center manager which of the various pools on property would be best for lap swimming and he referred me to one used by Biltmore club members just on the corner. Sure enough, there was a nice, straight 25 yard-ish pool that had the look of a place not likely to be of use early in the morning.

Should you ever find yourself at the Arizona Biltmore and looking for the pool, here’s a shot from Google maps:

I know, it’s a stunning visual.

Pre-dawn I was there swimming my 3100 multi-set workout and despite being down at lower altitude, suffering a little bit. Not sure what it was exactly, but it was one of the more difficult swims I had. Fortunately, swims have the benefit of affording a quick recovery and I felt fine by the time I left the hotel for work.

Of course, my day was not over. That afternoon, I was assigned five 1 kilometer hill repeats on a grade of 4% - 5%. The thing about Phoenix is that most of it is pretty flat. The exception being the mountains located right in the middle of the city. These, of course are much steeper than 5%.

After some online research, I determined the best place to do the run is on the road that leads to the Piestewa Peak trail head. It worked out to around 4.2% and while I knew there would be some traffic, I also knew it would be slow moving.

A fairly easy but warm 20 minute warm-up run had me at the start of the hill and I headed up for the first. No natural hill is perfectly even all the way up so while there were a couple of short sections that were flat over even slightly down, most of it was a steep climb and I was pushed all the way up into my Z5 heart rate.

I took it easy going back down and recovered pretty well but by the time I finished the fifth repeat, I was more than a little happy to be done with the workout. It was also starting to get dark.

As always, thanks for reading and have a great upcoming weekend!

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