Tag Archives: running uphill

52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 34: Blistering! (And I don’t mean my pace)

I think I’m still traumatized after this past weekend’s double shot of runs, the Shark Weekend 5K in Nahant, MA, and the YuKanRun 5K in Cape Ann, MA. Maybe I am suffering from residual heatstroke that manifests itself in the blocking out of salient yet humiliating details, but both runs have managed to blur into one.

If I hadn’t set myself this insane 52-week challenge, there’s no way I would have been outside exerting myself in such conditions two days in a row, especially when I could have broken a sweat just by standing still. It was my most grueling race weekend ever.

Good thing I am about to run a half-marathon on Saturday. What with the lingering trauma and all …

Shark Weekend 5K

This way for sharks!

These runs weren’t just hot. They were also hilly. Swear-inducingly hilly. I’m normally not allowed to complain about hills, but this is an exception. It was comedy. A hill lurked around every corner, meaning maximum grouchiness and slowpokery on my part, especially during the YuKanRun 5K. About a mile into that one, I expressed myself in a manner not fit for a family blog.

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High society: The Mt. Washington Road Race

I have a guest blogger this week while I am in Australia! My hubby and partner-in-running-adventures did the Mt. Washington Road Race last weekend. That’s UPHILL for 7.6 miles. Gives me asthma just thinking about it. Here’s his take … 

Heading into this past weekend, in the tradition of Stride and Joy, I had The Fear. Actually, a double dose of The Fear.

The first dose came from having to be the guest blogger. How could I live up to the exacting standards of Stride and Joy? I wanted to take flight. The second dose came from having to run “Only One Hill.” That’s the catchphrase of the Mt. Washington Road Race. I wanted to take flight again. Preferably aboard a small helicopter. That’s a saner way to the top.

Well, in the true character of this blog, there was to be no running away … but there would be cursing.

Mt. Washington Road Race

This sign should say you may also not appreciate this “running experience.”

This was the 52nd running of the Mt. Washington Road Race. I “won” the right to run via a lottery that opened in March. It seemed so easy: enter your details, input the credit card info (no charge unless you won) and click submit. No sweat. Then I received a “congratulations” email. Oh crap. What did I do?!!

Inclined to train

So, how to train? I live at sea level and my nearest hill takes a mere 30 seconds to get to the top. Move to Colorado! Tempting indeed, for that’s where the top finishers of this race hail from. They’ve got the altitude and attitude on their side. They don’t hold the course record though; that honor belongs to a Kiwi. There are lots of hills in New Zealand, but I like to think that some of his training involved running away from the Orcs from the Lord of the Rings movies. Or the walking trees. They are scary. An argument for clear felling forests if ever there was one.

Well, without a quick way to move to Colorado and in the absence of a build-your-own Orc kit, it was off to the treadmill to train.

The incline of the auto road is between 12 and 20 degrees. That fierce sounding 20 is only at the last part … you know, to the finish line, because the rest of the “hill” just wasn’t enough.

So on the treadmill, I cranked the incline up to 12 and pressed start … crikey … this was going to involve some change of pace. But at least now I knew: slow and steady would finish the race.

Rise and shine

Mt. Washington Road Race

On the up and up.

Race day arrived, and what a morning it was. One of the volunteers said he had never seen weather so good. All week, I had been watching the conditions. A few weeks before, it had snowed. A few days earlier, there were 60mph winds. Today, though, it was clear from top to bottom. I hoped it would last.

In order to “run” up the mountain, you had to have organized a ride down in advance. This was facilitated via a forum on the Mt. Washington Road Race website. After picking up my bib, I met Roy, the guy whose car I would ride my weary bones down in. Roy is a veteran of this peak. He’s also 73 years old and has done the run twice. There was also a bloke who was 92. Now if they could do it, I had no excuse but to head to the start line.

Mt. Washington Road Race

That’s not a hill … THAT’s a hill!

The canon fired and we were off. In taunting fashion, the race started downhill, across a flat bit and then began to climb and climb and f**kin’ climb. I told you there would be cursing.

A woman I had spoken to prior to the race, also a veteran of the mountain, told me to just keep running, and I tried my best to do that. I made it over half way, in fact I even ran in place at a water stop just to keep the rhythm, but then looking at my pace I realized on certain steep areas, I could do just as well power walking and so over the last half, it was a run/walk. More of the former, I am proud to say.

As for the running part, it was easier to run on my toes, and here’s where my new Newton Running shoes worked their miracle. They have series of “energy return” ribs that create a block just to the front of the arch of the foot. This block made it so much easier to run the peak as I never had to land flat on my feet and it helped me spring off every time. Newtons, of course, come from Colorado. I am seeing a pattern here.

Mt. Washington Road Race

The clouds roll in at the finish.

The best part of finishing the race, apart from not having to run up hill any more, was the blankets. Fleece blankets. Made in New Hampshire! None of that space blanket malarkey for us “mountain folk.” They came in handy too, as shortly after the finish, the clouds rolled in and it cooled.

As for the time to complete the 7.6-mile course, someone had posted on the forum that it would be around your half-marathon time and that’s exactly what it was.

Would I do it again? Hell yes! Next time though, I will be running all the way to the top … powered by anything that Colorado will offer. Coors beer maybe.

Mt. Washington Road RaceThe event: Mt. Washington Road Race
The location:
Mt. Washington, NH
The date: June 16, 2012
Hubby’s time: 1.41.16 (pace: 13.20)
The T-shirt: Blue tech shirt
The aftermath: Turkey dinner with all the fixins

52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 18: By George!

Since I started running last year, I’ve packed in a lot of races. So many, in fact, that you’d think one thing would be painfully obvious to me by now: There. Will. Be. Hills. I figure the fact that hills continue to elicit from me such breathless rage either means I have some unresolved hill-related issues from my past or I really need to take an anger-management course.

Looking back through some of my recent posts, I’ve noticed a pervasive “hills = evil” theme. And while they are evil, all this complaining has made me concerned that I’m turning into Stride and Killjoy.

To that end, I have decided to issue a moratorium on hilly rants. Although, this doesn’t apply if a hill is a) unnaturally steep or b) occurs at a particularly inopportune place in a run, such as right at the freaking end. Which brings me to this week’s event, the Lake George Half Marathon and 5K, No. 18 in my 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge.

Lake George Half Marathon and 5K

Lovely Lake George on a chilly – but thankfully still – Sunday morning.

I love how the most idyllic settings have produced, for me, some of the most challenging runs. Salisbury Beach, MA; Riverside Park in NYC, the covered bridge in Henniker, NH, and, now, Lake George, NY.

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52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 15: To hill and back

This weekend’s 5K had a tough act to follow. A duo of tough acts, in fact. My two most recent runs, the North Carolina motor speedway 5K and the Ukrop’s 10K in Virginia, were both brilliant, festive, flat, speedy, spirited events that left me with renewed enthusiasm for my 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge. During one I set a PR (yes, I talk like this now); and during the other I ran farther than I ever had before (with only a mild case of jelly legs).

So the Great Bay Half Marathon and Beyond the Rainbow 5K in lovely Newmarket, New Hampshire, part of the wonderful-in-every-way Will Run for Beer series, had its work cut out for it.

Correction: We had our work cut out for us. (There’s a reason the back of the half-marathon shirt has the slogan “These legs conquered the Great Bay Half Marathon.”)

Great Bay Half Marathon & Beyond the Rainbow 5K

The innocuous start under lovely sunny skies at the Great Bay Half Marathon and Beyond the Rainbow 5K. No rainbows, though.

The last two runs were so fabulously flat, I think I had forgotten that there are many hills in the world, and that they are all positioned to cause runners (OK, me) maximum discomfort.

This run was not flat. And I was ill-prepared (which is slightly pathetic given how many of these suckers I have done).

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52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 12: How green was my 5K

This week’s run was a cautionary tale. When it’s March in Boston but it feels like March in Sydney, do not wear tights. I repeat: Do not wear tights. You may at first think you’re terribly clever for eschewing your super-duper heavy winter tights in favor of lighter-weight poly/cotton gym leggings. But this superior feeling will be fleeting. You see, leggings are still tights. And tights + running + ridiculous March weather = TOO HOT.

Told you it wouldn’t take long for me to start complaining about the heat …

Ras Na hEireann

I'm not sure green is my color.

All jokes aside (never!), this weekend’s 5K, the Ras na hEireann U.S.A. (“race of Ireland and the United States”) in Boston, marked No. 12 in my 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge. That’s right, 12! And despite my poor sartorial judgement, it was a glorious occasion. Blue skies, green duds, and the promise of many, many ales.

I don’t have a drop of Irish blood in me (although lately I’ve been making up for that with beer), but I thought I should show some spirit. My spirit-delivery mechanism was long socks, a common choice for runners at St Patrick’s-themed events. But, alas, long socks have many tights-like properties, so on this occasion, they quickly became socks of the ankle persuasion. Oh well, I tried.

Ras Na hEireann

They had their fleeting moment in the sun.

Needless to say, my  running performance was hampered somewhat by the overzealous dressing.

I would have taken off my long-sleeved shirt, but the universe is  definitely not ready for me to run in a sports bra and nothing else on top.

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