On a group run, you can’t avoid the hill…

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In my years of running, I will admit to not doing much, if any, hill runs. I hate hills. I try to avoid them. If I go out on a training run, I usually stay on as flat of a path as possible. Maybe once a year I get the wise idea to go do a steep hill. It usually ends up with me swearing out loud to myself during it. Grandad’s Bluff in La Crosse, Wisconsin…that was a hill I did maybe three times. It sucked every time. You get to the top, feel such a relief, then going down is almost as painful, since you feel like you are basically rolling down the bluff as you decline. Whoop-Up Drive in Lethbridge is comparable in pain, due to the fact EVERYONE driving sees you and thinks you are a complete idiot. It feels like that hill never ends!

My dad gives us his opinion of being on top of Grandad’s Bluff in LaCrosse, WI…this was his famous ‘finger pose’ when he didn’t want his picture taken.

Then, there is the trail from the river bottom up to Scenic Drive in Lethbridge. I always saw it when I’d drive down Scenic Drive, but since its on the south side, I never ran it. I live on the West side of town. Lethbridge is split into two pieces by the Oldman River, so anything on the South/North side is more of a pain to get to. I usually just do my runs in the neighborhoods and parks close to my house, so I don’t have to drive anywhere. This allows me to avoid this hill.

My first time up this hill was this past October, 2012, when I did the Bare Bones Half Marathon. I didn’t train for this run ahead of time, stupidly registering for it a few weeks prior after hearing about it from some teachers at school. The run was put on by Runner’s Soul and it benefited the Lethbridge SPCA. The race started in Softball Valley, heading south along the river, and at about mile 4 or 5 we hit the hill up to Scenic Drive.

Since I was at race pace, I really did not want to slow down. It was extra tough to keep moving since there were not many half marathon runners in this race to keep you pushing. You start with an incline that looks roughly 60 degrees, then it flattens out. You hit the last incline of about 45 degrees, then you are on Scenic Drive. Your legs burn like hell, but at least you’ve made it.

Today, with marathon club, we did this hill. I realized the hill was part of the run when looking at the Runners Soul webpage last night. http://www.runnersoul.com/admin/resources/4.5mile-7.2km.pdf  I almost missed the run today too, because I’m an idiot and set my alarm for 6:45 am…only to then realize at 7:35 am it was set for ‘weekdays only’. I bolted out of bed, got ready in ten minutes, and made it to Runners Soul on time for the run. If I had just stayed in bed and tried to tackle the 6.5 miles on my own today, I wouldn’t have gone and done that hill. This forced me to do some hill training.

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The sign greeting runners before descending down into the river bottom

It was my second meeting with this monster. For the training run today, we headed down 10th Ave to the top of the hill, descended into the river bottom, only to immediately turn around and head back up. I now know that this hill is 0.6 miles, at least according to my Nike+ SportWatch GPS.  Also, in looking at the elevation map after uploading my run, it looks like the river bottom elevation is 2742 feet above sea level, and Scenic Drive is 2962 feet ASL. That makes it a 220 foot climb in elevation in the 0.6 miles. And it burns the whole way.

The whole route today was 4.5 miles.  I needed to do 6.5 for my own training calendar, so after getting back to Runners Soul and having a water break, I made the lonley trek to Henderson Lake and did a 2-mile loop.  It was flat.  But it was boring.  I kind of wished I had been back at Grandad’s Bluff for revenge….kind of….

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