One of my running groups regularly runs a hill route every couple of weeks. I’ve been running with this particular group on and off for about three years now, and my dislike of the hill route is legendary within the group. The “hill” is actually a .75 mile loop – we run down an incline to a dam, out to a bridge, and run back up the dam. The path on the way back is a gradual incline until you reach the dam, which inclines sharply. It’s a bitch. The rule of hill run night is you try to run as many loops as you can in thirty-five minutes. On hill runs that I actually would show up to, I would suffer through about four before quitting. After that, I started making excuses on hill run night and avoided them as much as possible.
This year, since I’m training for the marathon, I’m trying to be all YAY HILLS and embrace running them since they really increase your strength and endurance. I’ve been somewhat consistent this year for hill workouts, but members of my running group still remind me on Facebook, just to make sure I show up. And when the coach announces a hill workout, members look at me and say, “Yeah Jennifer, hills is next week.” It makes me laugh.
Last week, there was an event downtown that I had wanted to go to, but it conflicted with hill night. I’d already promised the group I’d be there, and didn’t want to back out on my word (I guess I’m finally growing up). The weather was brutal. It was 100 degrees outside, so I downed water all afternoon (luckily, the hill path is shaded with trees, so while it was hot, it was not as bad as it could have been). As we walked to the dam and were about to start, I kept a steely focus. When we started running, I turned on Wasting Light (my hills music) and tried to keep a steady pace.
Richard, one of my running buddies who always says that I sandbag it, kept encouraging me as I ran. “Wow, you’re at the front of the group,” he said after the first lap, which I was. A sizable gap eventually grew between me and the rest of the front runners, since they are all marathoners and triathletes and could run much faster than me. I was cool with that.
Did I mention I was the top female in the group? There were about 9 or 10 of us, and I was first. That’s because two of the fast women were not there (one of them is an ultramarathoner who stays ahead most of the guys. There’s no way in hell I could ever keep up with her). I don’t mean to brag, but it’s not something I’m really used to.
Lately with hills, I have been knocking out five laps, and Richard has been encouraging me to increase the distance each time. At the end of the fifth lap, he told me to come down at the bottom of the dam to run back up. We ran up it together. When we stopped, he said, “You were the top female of the workout today.” “That’s because the fast girls didn’t show up,” I said. “I’ve never seen you run the hills so strong or so fast,” he said. Man, skipping the event downtown and sweating through that workout was worth it just to hear that.
Once upon a time, the hills conquered and defeated me. But last week, I made it my bitch.