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.