Friday, August 03, 2007
The Hills Are Alive
Last weekend, Steve, my brother, and I ran the Bix 7. The Bix is a long-standing Quad City tradition: a seven mile road race that attracts elite runners from around the world, as well as apparently everyone who lives anywhere remotely nearby who has the faintest interest in running. This was my third Bix, and now that I live here again, I can't imagine missing one.
The race is, in short, a blast. The course is really difficult. Not only is the distance tough (though decreasingly so for me, as my training miles have gone up), but the course itself is really challenging. The race starts almost immediately with a run up a very steep hill that goes on for about half a mile. And there are yet more hills, some rolling, and others that aren't very steep, but are long - the kind that kind of sneaks up on you.
It turns out that running hills is a really good idea for me. At the pre-race expo, I picked up some information about the marathon in Des Moines that I'm training for. There are hills at miles 3 and 7, and the literature advises, "If you haven't already incorporated hills into your training program, please do so now."
Luckily, I live in a really hilly area. If I'm running more than three miles, it actually takes some doing to avoid hills completely. So hey, why not be prepared? I have a three-mile course that includes a really steep hill at around the midpoint, so that will be the run that I begin my week with every week from now on. And I'll definitely make sure my long runs are not flat and easy.
Thanks to four years of high school cross country, I am no stranger to running hills. They're definitely challenging, but the key to tackling them successfully is the mental game. The book The Non-Marathoner's Guide to Running suggests that you embrace the hills. The book advises that you say, "Hello, hill. Come run with me."
I take a slightly different tactic. When I hit a hill, I'm more likely to say, "Hill? I'm not scared of you, bitch. You're not that tough. I'm much stronger than you are, and I am almost done. You are a tiny part of this workout for me." And before you know it, I'm at the top, feeling triumphant.
Oh, and by the way, it wasn't just us grown-ups who ran the Bix. Jack was able to compete in the Junior Bix, a grueling 70 yard dash. Once he convinced me that he would literally die if he had to wear his race number, he was all smiles, running down the street, holding my hand, and taunting his fellow two-year olds with a "Neener, neener, neener!"