Living and training in the Lowcountry of South Carolina means unless I include a bridge on my route, I am running at sea level. Thanks to a regular strength training routine, I luckily have some leg power to help me up hills despite rarely training on them. Which is basically how I survived Portland and Boston last year.
When my friend wanted to break her PR and get a Sub 2 hour half on a downhill course, I agreed to help pace her. After registering, I realized I never run downhill! And then I found out there were going to be a lot of uphills as well! I’m a great 2 hour pacer…on flat terrain. This was a whole different ball game.
We started at the top of a mountain, in the clouds: Came down 2, back up 2, then all the way down. My mind was spinning trying to do the pacing math with so much elevation and pace variations. Around mile 5 we were just behind our pace goal, from all the uphill, when we passed a sign that said with the upcoming decent we could expect to be 40-60 seconds faster per mile. Boy were we. It was hard not to fly down, and my legs were feeling it. By the time we got to Mile 12 we had 15 minutes to finish. Plenty of time. We held hands as we crossed the finish line (around 1:56) while my friend shed a few tears of joy! Fitting, as the race was the Tear Drop Half. It was such an exciting moment to be a part of and one of my favorite out of all of my races.
The rest of that Sunday was a blur as we were all so thrilled about her accomplishment, but Monday morning the high wore off and I felt every step of that half. I was as sore as I am after an under-trained Marathon. My legs were so heavy on my shake out run Wednesday, and only a little lighter by Friday. I don’t think I had run a hill since the Cooper River Bridge Run!
However, there was no time to recover as I had another half (Myrtle Beach Diva) on Sunday – only 7 days apart. I wasn’t as motivated knowing I had no real goals, no buddies to run with, and tired legs. However, something kicks in at the start line and I decided to just stick with the 8 min pacer and see what happens. It was cooler temps, and a very flat course, so in other words – ideal. From the start, I was feeling good and got into a grove. Luckily that held true and I came in around 1:44.
All week I’ve had great workouts with normal feeling legs. Made me realize just how tough hills are and what an accomplishment that first race was. Also, that to be a better runner, I need to consistently do some hill training. Strength training helps, but there is no substitute for actually running on hills.
Happy Hill Training,
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