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Since San Diego County is blessed with so many hills, we’ll be visiting one of them every now and again. The first one to visit is obvious — Torrey Pines State Reserve.

When visiting the reserve, we have a few options regarding access. We can fight for parking along North Torrey Pines Rd, pay for day access to the parking lot, or park along Carmel Valley Rd. near the entrance to Torrey Pines State Beach North.

The Carmel Valley Rd option is most favorable. Parking spaces are readily available. Also available is a 0.75 mile warm up before reaching our friend the hill.

Upon reaching the entrance to the park, we can make a choice. The choice is to run inside the reserve or to continue along North Torrey Pines Rd—heading south.

What’s the difference? To stay on the road means a hill of about 1.5 miles. To go inside the reserve means a steeper hill of just over half a mile from the restrooms at the base to the restrooms at the top. The hill inside the park gives us views of coastal canyons leading down to the Pacific.

It appears that cyclists prefer to stay on the road while pedestrians prefer the steeper hill within the park. This is not a hard and fast rule.

As I meandered up the hill looking for spots to take pictures for this post, I noticed a middle-aged gentleman doing repeat trips up and down the hill. He had a compact efficient stride with a mid-foot strike and must have done at least four laps.

I caught him at the bottom of the hill, found out his name is Tom and asked why he does “hill repeats."

Tom explained that a hill gives you “more bang for your buck”. A hill also lets you focus on technique if you really lean into it and a hill makes you faster even though you might be slow going up the actual hill.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

We’ll explore what he meant by “lean into it” next time.

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