Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Hill Run


Yesterday I had the pleasure of running hills. Jen had specified that she wanted me to find a hilly course and simply run with – a few seconds in the upper echelons of my heart rate would be welcomed, although unpleasant. Nothing like “running” up a 8-minute long steep hill, heart rate off the charts, breath sounding suspiciously like a freight train. I think I can I think I can I think I can…But hey, if it’s on the docket, I’m all for it. Besides, for the first time in my triathlon-life, I live in a location that has plenty of hills for me to choose from.

And let’s face it – when I ‘run’ up hills, I’m not the fastest of the bunch. Yes, I work hard – but that doesn’t always equate to ‘fast’ now, does it? Instead, I had plenty of time to admire the view and take in m y surroundings.

A few observations from my run…

-Starting out uphill RIGHT away. Yes, I turned inland instead of venturing out towards the coast. So instead of climbing short and steep, I opted for long and gradual. But it was still up. And I went past one switchback. Thankfully I was going so slow that my heart rate didn’t budge much past zone 2.

-Saying GOOD AFTERNOON to a lady working on her garden. Sixty minutes later when I looped back, she was still working on the same hedge. Either she’s really methodical, or just loves her garden. I’m sure she thought the same about me – still running.

-Getting dive bombed by birds. You know those clips on ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ of an unsuspecting person suddenly getting bombarded by birds? Yeah, well – that was me. Luckily, the sun was behind me, so I could see the shadows of the little buggers while they dive bombed. But it was still unnerving. I’m sure I looked like an idiot, ducking every few seconds for a 2-block long period. Towards the end, I would have gladly preferred getting hit by poop instead of said bird.

-Running up one of the hills on El Camino Real. 10 minutes later – still running up the same hill, cresting the top and turning off of El Camino Real. I have no idea where I was going, just up. At that point, running on a flat section of road would have felt odd.

-Seeing my heart rate in excess of 175. Thirty seconds later, seeing it below 125. Yes, running up vs running down. Amazing how our bodies respond.

-Realizing that with ten minutes left on my run, I was only six minutes from home. And because this run was a HILL run, going two minutes beyond and then back home just wouldn’t cut it. Instead I turned inward (for courage and strength), inland, and ‘ran’ up the Hoover hill. One more hill couldn’t hurt, right? Wrong. My legs simply stopped feeling ¾ of the way up. Yes, I made it – but no, it wasn’t pretty.

-When I finally DID run along flat sections, realizing that the faster pace didn’t feel so bad. Again – ‘faster’ is relative. When you’re lucky to average 13:30 per mile pace running up, anything faster feels, well, GREAT!

-Realizing that the main reason I’ve been hesitant to run in the hills is I’ve been afraid of messing up my average pace. Woa! Hang on there a moment. What? I realized yesterday that so many of my runs have been along the coast because of the flat topography (and the view is great, but mainly because its flat). But in the end – what does pace and average pace really matter? Who the heck cares anyway – right? There is so much to be gained from running hills – both physically and mentally. So even if the average pace is xx:xx, BUT I GAVE MY BEST EFFORT AND WORKED THE HILLS THE WAY I CAN, then I’ll be happy. And its only taken me how long to figure this out?

-How GREAT my post-run recovery bar would be. Sometimes you just have to run for a little chocolaty-peanuty-recovery-bar goodness. Well, that or chocolate milk. You pick.

-Finishing my run and being happy. I am grateful that I can do this and that my body is responding to the training, that I live in California, and have the wonderful support of Nathaniel, my friends, Jen, and the rest of my family. It was simply a great day for a tough run. Hills and all.

15 comments:

Beth said...

Oh, I know what you mean! Sometimes I specifically seek out a flat run so that I can see a faster average pace. SO DUMB!! I don't know why I do it when running on hills make me so much stronger. But I'm glad I'm not the only one that has used that logic before. ;) Anyway - great job on those hills! I can say that you guys definitely have some BIG ones out there!!

GoBigGreen said...

Good run Marit:) I know those hills and especially when we woud stay down at the LJBTC and drive ( yes i said DRIVE) up towards Scripps and the LJ Country Day school to go to UTC etc..I was like "Dang I would NOT like to bike up these!" And there you are.
When you come back to MN we can do a hill ride:) I know ALL of them!

MB said...

What are hills? ;) Great workout Marit!

Kim said...

oh marit, i feel like i just wrote this post after my hill run on tuesday. i too started on a REALLY long gradual incline. then bc i had more time, i too chose to go up a ridiculous steep hill and brought my heart rate up to 180!!!! and i too dropped my average pace almost a minute!!!! A MINUTE! and i too got super pissed at that!!!! :) you are in good company on those hills.

and the chocolate milk made me feel SO much better about my crapass average pace!

Rebecca DeWire said...

Isn't it funny that as triathletes we care so much about pace that we avoid challenging ourselves? It is so easy to get up on the data, but in the long run what does it really mean?!? I felt this way about a hilly ride once, I only averaged 14mph and was in the worst mood after. I had to blog about it for support. Nice running, you are doing to do so well at CDA!

Jennifer Harrison said...

GOOD job, Marit! Talk about a 360 in training venues from Pensacola! WOW! I did hills today too - but bike hills. I had to ride 45 minutes to find ONE, but I did - yay! :) NOT CA or CO hills, but it did the job. Nice work and I had chocolate milk too when I got home.

OH, and the best news. IT WAS sunny and 80F here today!!!! YIIIPPPEE, man, is it easy to train when the conditions are in your favor!

Rest up!

Charisa said...

Nice work on those HILLS!!! :)

Mama Simmons said...

Yay for hills! I have no choice but to run hills from my house. When I first moved here I thought that I'm either going to get really strong or I'm going to get injured. But I'm not injured.... ;)

Elizabeth A. Rich said...

Oooh! I LOVE the hills!!! I bet you have some great ones to train on too :-) Sometimes when I run hills I just have to leave home without the Garmin and just ignore my pace. GREAT job today and I am so glad you enjoyed your run + recovery bar... I know exactly what you mean! HEE HEE

ADC said...

I had a hilly run on today as well. And you know what, I figured out that I actually really like running in the hills and the only reason why I stayed away from them is exactly same as yours - it would mess up my pace. Silly really.

Sherry Lynn said...

So THAT's what a hill looks like! LOL! The closest I get to a 'local' hill is a 1 mile bridge. Everything else is flat, flat, flat...

Very good point about the whole 'average' pace thing. I'm guilty of that too... sometimes ya just gotta let training 'be' what it's going to be.

Kim said...

Way to get those hills in and work it, work it. Loved the observations and you did yourself some real good out there. Screw average pace..wait, can I say that on a blog? Thanks for the encouraging message on my blog. I appreciate you & your wonderful heart. You're a saint and I love you dearly my friend! Have a great weekend, hug and spend time with N. and I'll talk to you soon! Great job!!

Maijaleena said...

Great hill run! I like your observations, especially the one about the gardener.

Jennifer Yake Neuschwander said...

Nice work....thanks for making me feel better about the 13 + minute mile I had on the trail up Soledad. It makes me feel better to know that rock stars like you have to do drop their pace too.

Jennifer Yake Neuschwander said...

Nice work....thanks for making me feel better about the 13 + minute mile I had on the trail up Soledad. It makes me feel better to know that rock stars like you have to do drop their pace too.