Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half!


I’m used to running flattish races like this (Richmond half, my last half PR)

or the Shamrock course, which had an overpass “hill” at around miles 2 and 9 in the full.

In fact, I look for races reputed to be “flat and fast” and I haven’t ever done much hill training. I’d say any, but on my occasional Sunday outside runs, I do run some of the hills in our neighborhood.

But Boston looks like this

So I need to start working on my hill training!

I signed up for the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half on June 8th to get a bit of familiarization with part of the course and a little experience running hills.

And, to add to the fun, I’m doing this solo AND it includes travel! (which, if you recall, isn’t my favorite thing….)

As it happens, the whole weekend is really kind of a challenge to myself in many ways.

The race is Sunday morning. I’m going to fly up very early Saturday (not early enough for the Bart shakeout run, sadly). I’ll take a cab to Boston College, the race HQ. I’ll spend the day at the expo/seminars. Then I’ll need to find myself dinner at Whole Foods a few miles away – unless they can tell me there’s something for me to eat at the pasta dinner, which I’d love to attend given the presence of people like Bart Yasso and Tish and Shalane Flanagan.  (If you know the area and can suggest other nearby casual gluten-free and paleo-friendly options, please let me know!) I’ll listen to Sarah Reinertsen speak (just got her book from the library), cab it to the hotel, prep for the race, and try to get some sleep. The combo of first night in a hotel and night before the race probably isn’t a good one for sleep, so I’ll try to stock up on sleep the few days before the race.

I’m likely to get up wicked early on Sunday to cab to the race in plenty of time to warm up, etc. before it starts at 7:30. I’ll hang out for a bit after, head back to the hotel via cab, shower, cab it to the airport and be home (Jet Blue, weather and traffic willing) a mere 36 hours after I leave, in time for a late dinner.

I’m a little nervous about all the logistics working out. Flight timing, traveling with so little stuff, finding safe food that I can eat at the right time, finding my First Endurance Liquid Shot vanilla gel in Boston (flask is too big for carryon) and that kind of stuff.

So what are my goals for the race? I’d love to PR. But realistically, I’m not trained to PR on a hilly course, and it’ll be warmer than my usual race temps, so I’m taking a PR off the table unless the universe decides to gift me with it. I’m hoping to run as strong as I can, with people who make the miles fly, and maybe have some course experience they can share. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the Boston course so it won’t be a total surprise on race day.

I’m trying to tell myself the time is irrelevant, it’s the experience on the course that matters (even if my time is likely to make me grind my teeth). I’m going to ask you all for help with maintaining that perspective/mindset, I’m sure! I know there’s pretty much no way for me to get noticeably better at running hills in the 4 weeks until the race, so it’ll be what it’ll be. Till then, I am going to keep strength training, do some hills on the treadmill, and add in some elliptical work to help my quads (just minutes at a time so as not to trash them for actual running).

One race doesn’t buy me a lot, I know, but I need all the help I can get. I intend to do more hill work in my training for the remainder of the year, despite the fact I have no hilly races planned until Boston – Baystate is flat and so is Across the Years. (unless you consider the Richmond full – only a possibility at this point – hilly).

I plan to – at some point during this year – set my treadmill up on boards so I can do decline training. If you’ve done that, I’d love to hear from you about what worked and what didn’t. I haven’t decided when the setup will happen as the treadmill is so heavy DH can only set it up that way once – then it will likely stay that way till this time next year. I’m also about to start a 4 week hill module from McMillan. (that will be followed with a 4 week speed module, then the 12 week training plan for Baystate)

All you runners out there with more experience on hills than me, or who eat hills for breakfast and love it – what tips can you give me for hill training? Any and all will be appreciated.

If you’re running the HHHalf too, please get in touch. I always love to meet the people I know from the internet!