I have just returned from one of my favorite training runs. Seeing that I never encounter other runners, I want to spread the word.
There is a wonderful hill run that takes you from Lake Anderson’s Woodchoppers Picnic Area all the way to Henry Coe State Park. It is 7.5 miles up and 7.5 miles down. I like it because the climb is 2000 feet (by my Garmin), which is very reasonable over 7.5 miles. It is hard enough that you need to train at it but not so hard that you ever feel defeated.
The first mile is pretty level, followed by a four mile climb that takes you up about 1200 feet. The next two and a half miles gradually climb, with a few short flat stretches that provide a nice break. Don’t stop at the “Henry Coe” sign. You really have another half mile or so until you reach the actual park. If you are so inclined, you can keep on going as there are a number of trails in Henry Coe.
The entire run is paved along East Dunne and winds you around Lake Anderson and up through the hills. You will surely meet some cyclists along the way as well as many cows. In general, the cars are few and far between, but stay alert as some speed around the curves.
I find the up-then-down combo (vs. shorter up down, up down, up down) really valuable. Not only do I get solid incline training, I also use it to practice speed and control during long descents. I consistently underestimate how worn out I will get during the second half. Mentally I think it will be a cake walk, but it never is.
If you take 101 to Morgan Hill, exit East Dunne. Go East towards the hills. About two miles up the hill there is a fork in the road. Go to the right and follow the sign to Henry Coe. About a mile from there is Woodchoppers Picnic Area. There is always plenty of parking and a few restrooms.
Photo Source: Gary Keller, http://coepark.org/gallery/ph-gk01.html