Tag Archives: hills

More Talk of Hills

16 Jan


Things are moving along training-wise. In addition to speedwork, I’ve added some hill training into my schedule. And, just like the speedwork sessions, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve done any work on hills.

My schedule this morning called for 4-5 hill repeats of 200m at a 5-10k pace. I decided on both 5 repeats and a 5k pace (about 6:00/km) because I had the day off yesterday and was feeling well-rested. I started out at my house and did a 2k warm-up before finding myself at the bottom of a little hill I like to call Vimy Ridge.

Ugh. War looks terrible.

It’s actually fairly tame, with a steady incline, and is around the 200m my schedule demanded. The unfortunate thing was that the skies decided to open up and dump a couple centimetres on me just as I started the repeats.

Literally, the snow started when I started the hills and then stopped the second I got home. And you know what sucks about snow? It’s very susceptible to wind. That stuff was all up in my face the entire time! No matter what direction I was facing. Wtf Nature. Try doing me a solid and choose one direction in which to assault me.

Also, I may or may not have broken my iPod. I was trying to take a photo of the snow-covered hill but couldn’t figure out how to make it take photos rather than video. Then it stopped responding to all commands. I think that might have something to do with my snow-soaked gloves and that white stuff falling from the sky? Yeah maybe. It’s working well now (so far) so I’m not worried. You guys will just have to imagine the hill.

Feel free to picture something like this.

Thankfully I was otherwise prepared and had my heavy-duty gloves and everything. Still no ghetto snow-sneakers. The repeats themselves went well, and I even sprinted the last one, for the lulz. I had a quick 1k run home and ended with a total distance of 5k.

So far it’s been a great week. Excuse me while I ruin that by reminding myself that I have about 28 chapters of textbooks to read. Happy Monday everyone!

Pleased as a Peach

15 Jan

Winter has officially arrived. Snow is on the ground and seems like it might want to stick around. I was not aware that snow was in the forecast in any way, shape or form. Imagine my surprise yesterday morning when I stepped outside to start my LSD run to clear skies and green lawns only to have a snowplow pass me, lights flashing.

Not that kind of LSD guys. LSD = Long slow distance. Save the hallucinogens for after the run.

I was absolutely bewildered. Then it passed again, a few kilometers later, as I continued past snowless land. Finally, as I crested a particularly nasty hill, I arrived midtown to the valley between two mountains and encountered a couple inches of the stuff. And then it started hailing on me. The snow has been creeping towards my house ever since. Needless to say, I was not prepared for running in the snow. I haven’t made my ghetto snow sneakers yet (the general plan is too drive a handful of very short screws into the soles of my old pair) and I was wearing my light gloves instead of my heavy-duty pair. Thankfully there were few cars out in the snow at 7am on a Saturday, so I ran on the still-clear road rather than the mostly non-existent sidewalks. My water froze my throat closed I’m pretty sure. I only checked the thermometer when I got home (still freezing) only to find we were sitting at around -2 C, which may sound mild to you but we get MAYBE ten below-zero days a year and I do not adapt well to it.

Plus, I look about 100% less adorable than this puppy in the snow soooo...

Aside from the cold (or maybe because of it) I ran an exceptionally good 16k yesterday morning. I call it exceptional for two reasons: first, because I ran my first 16k several months ago at 7:21/km and brought yesterday’s run down to 6:41/km, without a single huff or puff along the way. Hopefully by this time next year I’ll have shaved another 40 seconds off and be even prouder of myself (oh wait not possible). Yes, yes, I am aware that this is a slow pace, but I’ve beaten myself and that’s what counts.

Second, this particular run included the dreaded Bowen Bay hill, that which I described in unflattering terms in this post. I was hoping I’d reach my turn-around point of 8k before the top of the hill so I wouldn’t have to run back up it. I was only at 7k, which meant running down the entire thing then running back up. I debated with myself, thinking I could add a quick 2k loop at my start-point and avoid the hill altogether. But 2012 is a year for challenging oneself, so I forced myself down the hill. Running down even took forever. I was cursing myself the entire way, knowing each step meant more hill to run up. When I got to the bottom, I gazed up at what I could see of the hill and cursed some more. Then I put my head down and ran.

And you know what? I breezed up that hill like it was nothing baby! I’ve avoided it since last summer and I can’t believe how much I’ve improved since then! I was actually surprised when I got to the top, certain there must be more hill to conquer. The run was pretty much down-hill (in a good way) from there. I felt like planting a flag or a headstone that read “Here lies Bowen Bay hill, also known as Margaret’s bitch”. Maybe next time.

My smugness level = approximately four smug Obamas.

In short, I’m feeling really great about my training. Although I’ve got some other not-so-nice things going on, my running is going great and that makes me feel good. I hope everyone else is doing so well with their training!

Naming Hills

1 Nov

My face whenever I see a hill.

Maybe you’ve heard about Heartbreak Hill, which is a rise of some elevation that is part of the last legs of the Boston Marathon. Maybe you’ve also heard that the Boston Marathon is KIND OF A BIG DEAL and also that HILLS SUCK. This particular hill is located between mile 20 and 21, which is also where most people hit the wall. It rises 27 feet over 600m. The name actually originated in 1936, when an elite runner gave a consolatory pat on the back to his main competitor after the hill, which proved to bolster the dude, who went on to win, breaking the runner’s heart. However, because it SUCKS to run up a hill at the end of a marathon, the name stuck around. You can imagine how it feels to be running the most important race of your life, pushing yourself harder than you’ve ever pushed yourself, only to find you’re at the bottom of a big ol’ hill and you know you might die trying to get to the top of it. Understandably, Heartbreak Hill has stuck around as a nickname.

I have my own Heartbreak Hill. My Heartbreak laughs in the face of Boston’s because mine rises an eff-ton more than a measly 27-feet, and lasts twice as long as Boston’s 600m. Most people call it Seven Hills, as the rise takes place over a series of seven ever-steepening hills. I really wish I knew the exact elevation but I do know that the last hill is the steepest, steep enough to need a warning sign for trucks. I call it Heartbreak Hill because if I start my run from my house towards the rest of my town, no matter what, I’m going to have to first speed down that hill and then, on the second-to-last kilometer, run up it. And it sucks.

But my repertoire of hills doesn’t end there. I’ve also named twin hills Mount Doom and Cruel and Unusual Punishment. These flow into Idaho (a bunch of little rolling hills that remind me of potatoes), Bitter Mother-In-Law, and Step-sister’s Revenge. And those are just on a 10k route that has me heading away from Heartbreak Hill instead of towards it.

No relation to Mordor's Mount Doom. You doesn't simply walk into Mordor, nevermind run.

It goes on. There’s Serial Killer School Kid (a huge hill that has me running past an elementary school and many parents in parked cars), Daunting Dorman (sometimes known as Deadly, depending on what kilometer I’m on), and Haunted Haven (spits me out on a haunted trail, long story). Then there’s The Bell, which is a long, slow hill on the other side of the school and reminds me of the trek back inside after recess. There’s Wayward Willy’s Wanderings, and Vimy Ridge, which is also home to the local Legion branch.

The hill's still scarier than you, ginger.

Finally, there’s the worst hill in my area, which I decided not to honour with its own nickname because it sucks SO HARD. It’s Bluewater Hill, for any locals reading. It’s 3 km long. There’s curves that trick you into hoping it’s almost over only to smack you down when you round the bend and see the next part. I steadfastly avoid this one, and strongly resent having to do so because there are very nice roads and trails beyond it. I run it once a year, on a memorial 10k that starts in that neighbourhood and ends in our ‘downtown’ area. If the run wasn’t important to me I wouldn’t even touch that hill with a ten-foot pole.

If I was forced to name it, I’d call it something really derogatory. Like Buttface. Dogbreath. Your mom.

Or Low-Fibre Diet (nothing’s going nowhere fast). OKAY SO I JUST NAMED IT.


I guess the point here is that

a)      I have a lot of spare brain space, and

b)      I like to name things.


I think the reason I do this (aside from having not much else to think about when running around for a couple hours) is because it feels good to acknowledge the challenge, and then destroy it. I didn’t just run up a hill, I just dominated Vimy Ridge, yo! Suck it, Haunted Haven, you ain’t gonna ghost me today! Who’s the mountain now, Mt. Doom?!

What, I talk to deer. You're really surprised that I insult geographical features?

… Eat some bran, Low-Fibre Diet, if you want to keep up with me!

So gross, and so effective. Now I just want to go out and run LFD.

There’s also that whole thing about hills being good for my training. Whaaaaaatever.