Thursday, March 26, 2009


Last winter in preparation for the '08 Boston Marathon my training partners and I made frequent trips to Barrington, IL a suburb of Chicago. In an area that is mostly pancake flat, Barrington was one of the closest places Chicago runners can go to get in good hill training. On Saturday and Sunday mornings you could find the country roads there full of transplants from the Chi' that had made the hour drive, just for their run.

This year, has been remarkably different. There is almost no place to run from my house that is flat, unless I drive 25 minutes away. That means that even my 4 to 5 mile easy runs that I do in the late afternoon (when doubling) are done on hills longer and steeper than Barrington. I certainly don't know that this will make me faster, but I'm hoping that my legs are significantly stronger than they were last year.

Yesterday, I did a very difficult hill run. Starting at 8900 ft I ran a hard downhill for nearly 4 miles before turning and going up a steep, yet shorter incline. I then turned down again reaching my lowest point about 6.5 miles into the run. This was about 1050 ft below where I started. I climbed another hill to go back up 350 ft. At this point I hit the 8 mile mark and returned to trace my exact steps. By the time I reached the final 4 mile ascent, my legs were spent.

Running up long, steep hills at elevation is never fun, but its much harder after doing so much downhill. Usually I prefer to run uphill first and then hit the downhill. But, this is a luxury the Boston course does not afford. It's my hope that runs like yesterdays will allow me to cover the downhill first half of Boston with out any muscle fatigue. This will be key when hitting the the major climbs near the end of the course. I don't want to experience what I did last year, when Lance Armstrong flew by me on Heartbreak Hill. (Last year's winner, Robert Cheryiout pictured ascending the last of the Newton Hills)

I did the 16 mile hill run on an extended lunch hour at work. This meant I worked from 7:45am until 8:15pm (I work 10 hour shifts). It makes for a long day, but I was lucky to run in the middle of a crisp, beautiful afternoon, and earn a day's paycheck. I finished the night off with a 4 mile run at 9pm. Glad to see the temperature being somewhat reasonable at that hour.

I'm starting to get my swagger back. I realize I'm still slower than so many runners, but I'm back at the point where I can do 20 miles of running one day and still feel fresh the next morning. I can't imagine how I will feel at sea level!

Bring on Summer!


RH Wiegand said...

You're gonna kill it with all your hill work and altitude training. It makes my Barrington work look like child's play. I can't wait - it'll be great to [attempt to] hang with you again!

Silly Cymberlin said...

I don't know... a 1:16 in the hills of Cary isn't exactly a walk in the park! I only managed 1:19 on a flat course a few weeks back.

I certainly hope we both have our A-game.

Nettie said...

Exciting stuff. Can't wait to read your Boston race report!

Hey, are you still doing core training?

Silly Cymberlin said...

Thanks for following Nettie! I am still doing core work, but am still 5 cans short of a 6-pack.