Steep Hills, Speed Runs and Other Humbling Events

I sit here literally pouring sweat and wondering why I thought that was such a good plan. I have been reading a lot about adding speed workouts into my running, so today seemed like the day. Never mind that it is already hot, that it is day four and I am suppose to take the day off, that we are planning a family bike ride later in the day and hey, I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. Speed training you say? I’m in!!! Besides, I wasn’t being totally stupid about it. I did have a plan, maybe not a well though out plan, but still a plan. My idea was to walk for five minutes (warm up) run at a comfortable pace for a quarter mile, run like hell for a quarter mile, walk for a quarter mile and then repeat four times to run about three miles. 

Here is the up side, taking it in chunks made the three miles go by in a snap. The quarter miles, however, especially the fast ones are hell. I tried to keep my comfortable pace between ten and eleven minute miles. The fast  quarter mile, I just ran all out the first time. My pacing varied from 8.31 to 5.49, something I attribute to the hills. When I went just over the half mile marker, I walked for a quarter of a mile. My chest burned, there was fire dancing across my knuckles and of course my legs felt like lead. I can’t remember the last time I ran all out for such a long period of time.  Holy Shit!! That was fun! The second time around for my easy paced quarter mile I had trouble slowing down. My pace stayed within the nine and ten minute range, which was a problem. I didn’t think I could run really any faster. That time my pace fluctuated between 8.31 and 6.48, but hovered mostly around seven. And I couldn’t make the full quarter mile. I only had .02 to go and I just couldn’t do it. And the third time, I tried to run full out, I made about .15 of the quarter and felt my legs start to shake. Yeah, I was done. 

I’m not really sure if this was a good workout, but it was a fun workout. Walking feels a lot like cheating. It also reminded me a lot of when I first started to run, which for some reason made me feel good. I am going to keep trying this until I can actually pull off the plan I developed. And then see what happens next. I don’t know if it will help, but I think next time I do it, I will try to avoid the heat. 

In addition to beating up my legs with running, I had the opportunity to meet some serious hills yesterday. At least I think they were serious. And I am sorry, Orelanders, but they did indeed put our hills to shame. Hell, they made Manayunk hills blush. I was in Chalfont biking some of the roads around Peace Valley Park. My husband’s cousin is an experienced cyclist and he offered to help me become better. Besides learning that I am not the Girl when it comes to climbing hills, I learned more about cadence and using the left side of my bike gears. Previously, the highest hill elevation I had climbed was around 302 feet. In Oreland the highest elevation I bike is about 277 feet. Yesterday the elevations were around 470. Additionally, the climb was about forty more feet then I customarily do in Oreland. That might not seem like a lot to read, but for me on a bike it was. I think I did three hills total, not including what now seem like very little hills at Peace Valley including the one 8% incline. Did I have fun? Yes. Did I learn a lot? Yes, 

The question that boiled up yesterday is: Why am I doing this? I know I want to get stronger and be healthier, but I can do that with a whole lot less intensity three to four days a week. So why push so hard? Why do speed runs, work on hills? (Last night I began plotting out bike rides around places I knew had some serious hills.) And really the only answer I have is because I enjoy it. I want to see if I can run a little further, a little faster. I want to see if I can bike over that hill, or bike to the shore. And inside there there is a little voice that says if I miss a day, if I start to slack off in any way, it will all come unraveled. And it will just be something I was into once. 

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