fast hills: race recce

running hills – original photo © https://pixabay.com/photos/runners-triathlon-competition-1814479/

Not a huge amount to report from this weekend’s long run. Just a 16-miler but with race pace effort on the hills. We selected a route that incorporates some of the worst climbs along the Waterford AC Half-marathon route and opened the taps at the bottom of each one. Then we threw in a few other hills just for the laugh!

a few big hills and a heart rate response to match each but the pace seemed to hold
a few big hills and a heart rate response to match each but the pace seemed to hold

The three highest peaks in the elevation chart above are the toughest climbs along the proposed route for the half-marathon. The climb ~1:06:40 on the chart is a double blow and has to be conquered in the first few miles of the race. In some ways, it’s lucky that there is a slight levelling off halfway up the hill but that means it’s two tough hills in rapid succession. This route is far from the easiest half but it is a great test of your training – I’m not sure I’d change it.

Performance Condition scores dropped to zero and maintained such for the run after the first few miles. This was as expected given that the hills were complemented with easy running between them. Lap times are hardly worth looking at as they don’t reflect what the run was about. For completeness as always (no hiding training) here they are.

easy miles overall with just a few testing hills thrown in at pace
easy miles overall with just a few testing hills thrown in at pace

reflection

Sixteen and a half miles in 2:13, just playing around and testing things – there was a time that was a dream race goal! Never lose sight of where you started. As runners, we quickly line up the next challenge but shouldn’t forget that the next hurdle is no different to the one we just cleared. Let it bring a smile to your face and never forget how some previously hard miles now come easy. I ran this race last year and put in a lifetime-equalling PB. This year, I’ve only run 2 half-marathon distances with intent and smashed that time in both of them. I will never fail to be thankful for the opportunity to do that nor will I forget the years I spent at a much slower pace.

Back to the session though! The sole purpose was race pace over the hills, on tired legs, to see how things held up. It was tough going, I won’t lie. A couple of those climbs have very distant horizons and when you’re trying to maintain ~6:50 pace, it sucks the oxygen right out of you. I definitely didn’t sustain a steady pace up all of the climbs and that makes me focus on parts of the course where I need to reclaim seconds (view Garmin data).

We gained some muscle memory from doing this though and it will stand to us on race day. The big question now is where and how often to bank time to compensate for these beasts? Despite these climbs, will this finally be the sub-90 I so dearly desire?

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