This morning's mile repeats were difficult, to say the least. And it wasn't because of my running fitness. It was because of the hills.
My training plan for this week included a 7-mile run today, 3 miles of which were mile repeats. It's hard enough for me to map out a 5-mile run in my neighborhood, much less a 7 mile run, but I did it anyway. And what I found was that there's really nothing more than a half-mile in my neighborhood that's anything close to flat (i.e., anything between a 0 and 1% grade). There is a track at the middle school near my house, but at 4:30 in the morning, it's completely dark there, so that's out.
So I took to the streets. A 1-mile warm-up, and then I shifted into a higher gear. I was keeping about an 8:20 pace until I got to about the 3/4 mile mark, at which point the incline was quite severe. I finished that mile in 8:32, and took to my recovery jog. The next repeat started off with a gradual incline for the first half-mile, a .15 mile downhill, and then the rest of the run was flat to moderately uphill. Finished that in 8:34. This is where it got hard.
I did my recovery jog, and just couldn't get going good for the third repeat. Flat to a more moderate uphill, with the last quarter mile or so downhill, and I clocked an 8:55 pace. My legs were close to being fried from the previous 2 hilly repeats. I finished with an easy 2 miles, and did the entire 7 miles at a 9:31 pace, including the repeats.
I was completely drenched, head to toe, in sweat when I finished. But I’m really getting tired of the (4 times weekly) 5-to-10 mile runs on this hilly course in humid, pre-dawn weather. I have no choice, though, if I want to get my runs in. I’ll just be happy when the weather starts to break and I can at least do my weekend long runs on the W & OD trail without having to worry about dehydration.
If there’s a positive in all this, it’s that the Philly Half Marathon will be on a much flatter course, and hopefully the hill work will translate into some speed on the flats. I keep telling myself that.