I actually had Memorial Day off, and planned to do hill sprints of the most dreaded hill in Raleigh.
Okay, maybe that’s harsh, because it is a beautiful neighborhood, and I often see other runners doing the route, regardless of this hill.
However, the hill sucks. Over the course of 0.75 miles, you are basically going uphill, ranging from 2% to 11%. For Raleigh, that’s about as hilly as they come.
I drove to a little shopping plaza that was closed for the holiday, and jogged to the bottom of Fairview.
It looked like the largest grade was about 0.3 miles long, from “lowest” to “highest” (though it continues further in either direction, this was the steepest section).
I turned around, took a deep breath, and started up this hill. I’ve done this hill many times in the middle of a run, but never as hill sprints, so I had no idea how hard it would be.
The first one was hard, but my legs felt “springy” despite my somewhat speedy 9.5 miles Saturday and shake-out Sunday. I got to the middle area, where it gets much steeper before leveling off, and kept pumping. Eventually, I was to the top, and lapped my watch- 3:08!
Wow! I am not sure what I expected, but thought I’d be forced to drop to a 12:00 pace, as that is the pace I drop to when in the middle of a run. Sweet, 3:08 must be under 11:00…
I got through two more without having to walk down the hill. By the third “sprint” I was tired. But, mainly, I walked to make sure my heart rate dropped back to a reasonable rate before my final sprint. I picked it back up to a jog halfway, and prepared myself mentally for my final sprint.
It took every mental strength (and physical) to push. I wanted this one to be my fastest. And, more importantly, I just wanted to be done with these sprints. I finished my last one in about 2:51. I was excited, but more importantly done. I jogged back to my car, and reveled in my “I did this” glow.
I took Tuesday night off, and last night struggled to get through 5.5 miles. I knew I was lacking the strength to get in a good, strong run, so I turned the screen on my garmin off. I don’t like true “blind” runs, because I like to know what the pace was after (if a 10:30 felt hard, or a 9:30 felt easy…). I went for about an hour, but hit my end point in the loop at 57 and a half minutes (I checked it). My overall pace was 10:20, and I actually didn’t feel horrible, or horrible about the pace. My thoughts had lead me through the miles. I just had to keep pushing through the bored-feeling.
I think everyone has runs that aren’t inspiring. Especially following a faster or harder workout. It’s normal. It’s fine. I think the big thing is not being content with being bored. You don’t want every run to be something you struggle to get through, but it is okay to push through it. I need to start pushing through the ugh at the end of my runs. We have this massive, but short hill (maybe a couple tenths of a mile?) to get all the way back home. I usually walk when I get there, and justify it as a nice cool-down. I think it will help me get through a painful last 0.1 mile of a half marathon if I can just run up the final hill (even if it’s slow).