I set out this morning to do what will serve as my last real speed workout before the half marathon. To mix things up and boost my confidence in the hills, I headed for the Mormon Temple, one of Montgomery County’s landmarks and the site of one of its most brutal hill workouts.
I heard about this hill loop from Montgomery County Road Runners Club Coach Mike Broderick, who trains runners for the Boston Marathon. It’s part of a longer route that starts in Bethesda, but I’ve heard from many a runner that they’ve trained for Heartbreak Hill by doing loops of the hill portion — roughly between miles 11 and 13 on this map. A longer version of the route served as one of my first long runs, so going back for my final speed workout today felt kind of cathartic.
I never look forward to speed workouts. But today, I actually felt performance anxiety, like this was the race itself and I’d be publicly humiliated if I failed. But per my usual speedwork routine, I ignored the voices in my head and just got started.
At roughly half a mile, the hill is long enough and steep enough to really kick your butt. I attacked it every time. I told myself to leave it all on the (metaphorical) field, as tomorrow’s an off day and next week’s a taper. I told myself to run out the stress that’s been making me toss and turn the past couple nights. And I told myself that if I didn’t attack the hill now, I WOULD be publicly humiliated on March 21 (probably not true, but it kept me going).
I finished four loops — a total of eight miles — in an hour and 10 minutes. That’s something like 8:50-minute miles, which is pretty good for me on the hills, especially considering I wasn’t pushing it on the downhill and flat portions. I wish I could bottle the feeling I had when I finished — it was nothing short of euphoria.
Next up: My last long run on Saturday. (Gulp!)