That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. - Nietzsche

Saturday, February 5, 2011

January recap and the saga of Kate vs. Hills

January recap:

  • Ran 102 miles!
  • Average pace was probably something under 10:30
  • My comfortable pace (for shorter runs, up to 5-6 miles) is creeping down from 10 and change to probably right about 10.
  • Longest run: 12.64. Longest run since the half, and longest run ever other than the half.

Flying Pig, I'm gonna kick your butt!!

I'm pretty much over running in the cold. I don't mind it, but the feeling immediately afterwards just sucks. I hate being cold! (Yes, in a few short months, I'll be complaining about the heat!)

Now for the hill saga. It has been ongoing, but it has crept to the forefront of my running thoughts since Tuesday. Tuesday was the group run that I attend. Tuesday was also 30 degrees, windy, and rainy. Thank God I had found a waterproof fleece jacket at Target for less than $9.00 (!!) the day before. OK, it's a wee bit small - it's an XS, which I am not, but I think it's designed to fit baggy. So for me, it's a tight-fitting but not too-tight but I'd better not gain more than a couple of pounds running jacket.

Anyway, it's a monsoon. A cold monsoon. And then I'm presented with the idea that we are going to do HILL REPEATS! Yeah, no wonder they hadn't emailed us the agenda. So, we ran a mile. At the end of the mile was a decent sized hill. The coach and the other runners in my pace group plowed up it. So did I. Except at the top I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest. I swear everyone could hear it. I decided that was really not a good start to our hill workout. Thank God we had to stop for traffic at that point. I tried to consciously slow my breathing down to a halfway normal level while looking nonchalant about it.

(As an aside, I don't know what pace that coach officially runs, but I always end up running with him. I think he's a 9:30-10:00, because that's what we did on that mile stretch.)

Anyway, that was not the hill we were repeating. Oh no. The hill we were repeating was a monstrosity that soars up above the Newport, KY K-mart. Garmin told me it's about 80 feet high and about .4 miles long. I don't know how impressive that is as far as hills go, but we were not friends for long. We got to the top and, I'll admit, the view was impressive - I could see the river, the highway, the bridges, downtown Cincy - it was very nice, ONCE. But nooooo. Back down we went, and the downhill was just long enough that I forgot that was torture and decided that I was all ready for another repeat!

About 15 seconds in: OH YEAH. This sucks. Downhill again....and apparently downhills cause short-term memory loss. YAY, hill repeat! ....CRAP.

I was trying so hard to think positive. I have so many cheesy running mantras that I tell myself. I tried to remember them, focus on something else. But the only thing that my brain would think was something along the lines of, "I F***ING HATE EVERYTHING."

The girls in the group who had been running behind me apparently dropped off the face of the earth. They never passed me, but I never saw them when we looped around to go back up the hill again and again. I kept up with the coach (ok, ok, usually I caught up with him on the downhill) until about the fourth time in, when I resigned myself to just watching the blinking green light on his back as it got farther and farther away. The A group (yeah, the slower group) was supposed to do 4-5 repeats. I found my original thought (pre-hill) of "I'm gonna be an overachiever and do 6!" changing to "Please GOD let Coach Brad only do 4." But he did 5, and after the 5th, the green light was gone.

So I asked Coach Sarah where Coach Brad went. Coach Sarah is a tiny little ball of energy. She had been zipping up and down the hills like Sonic the Hedgehog, yelling constant words of encouragement. Coach Sarah always wears shorts, including in a 30 degree monsoon, and I can only conclude that she radiates so much energy that she must be constantly warm.

"Coach Brad went back. You can, too, if you want. could do one more."

I have no idea how this woman is so motivating, but she probably could have said " can drink this drain cleaner" and it would've sounded like a good idea. I asked her to run the hill with me. She slowed down her normal pace (which is probably about a 3 minute mile), yelling the whole time about how powerful my legs were going to be. She didn't say a word about my lungs. So when I got done chasing her to the top, I felt like someone had sat on me and pushed every ounce of air out of my lungs. Every attempt to breathe was a big squeak and I couldn't tell which way was forward anymore. I began to seriously wonder if a person can run uphill to their death.

So I did the logical thing. I plopped down right in a puddle. "CAN'T.......BREATHE..........DAMN............IT!!!"

She told me to get up and walk. Didn't work. Squatted down again. She told me to walk again. This time, I could. I got about a two second walk break. "OK, run now!!" Surprisingly, it worked. My air came back. I asked her to just forget what she just saw. We got back to the bottom, safely, and she asked a couple of other runners to escort me back. "How fast do you run?" I asked them. "We can slow down," was the reply.

Really? Apparently I just look slow when I'm not even running now??

We never really figured it out. They just started running a 9 something, and with no more hills, I kept up. For real I did. Even though my head was a mess and I had Lake Erie floating around in my shoes and I couldn't feel my fingers and there was no logical reason on this earth why I was still running.

The really fun part was getting back to the store, and scaring myself in the mirror. I'd forgotten I came straight from work, which meant I was wearing makeup, which meant I had mascara running down to my neck. Awesome. Surprised I didn't scare the hills into submission with my freakish appearance.

Today's long run featured more hills, although not as big and not as....repetitious. But they still kicked my butt. I slow waaay down on hills, more than I'd like. And today, I had huge issues breathing on hills. I had to create a new mantra - "Yes, you CAN breathe!" I guess I'll have to figure that one out.

The good news though: today we ran 13.1. And even though today was not a monsoon but a sleet storm, I still did it in 2:17. As in 18 minutes less than my previous 13.1 performance (which only had a couple of hills, and no sleet.)

If it doesn't kill me, it makes me stronger.


  1. Sorry you had such a difficult hill run Tuesday. That sounds like it completely sucked!

    I'll tell you, b/c hills have become one part of running where I rock, don't charge a hill. And don't lean into it. Respect it. Shorten your stride and turn over your feet a little faster instead to maintain a steady pace. And steady is what you want. There's no point in charging the bottom of a hill if you're crawling to the top of it. Steady. Stay upright. Turn your feet faster. Shorten your stride. And then repeat after me when you start to feel your glutes: "J-Lo butt, J-Lo butt, J-Lo butt, this is how I get a J-Lo butt." Sometimes I throw in a "I have a strong, powerful butt." for good measure.

  2. great stats for january! yay!

    sorry you had a hard time with that hill, sounds like you just took it too fast.

  3. Hmmm, I like Nota's "J-Lo Butt" mantra.

    Tuesday aside, it sounds like you had a fantastic month. Here's to another one coming right at you!