Several posts ago, I mentioned my intention to run the Woodstock Memorial Day 10K. Also, I said that this race was a difficult one because the last .9 miles goes 425 feet uphill. I've heard that the last hill has made people actually cry, not a good selling point for the race organizers. However, the first five miles are either downhill or flat so that's better. I grew up on top of a small mountain in Eastern Connecticut so what better place to look to simulate this course. It's close to where I live now and I know the area extremely well. I contemplated driving out to the race course yesterday though, but it's over 45 minutes away and in unfamiliar territory too.
With a somewhat rainy forecast for the morning in mind, I headed out to my old stomping grounds. It was only slightly drizzling when I parked my car and starting stretching. I planned to do two loops of a 2.5 mile course, which had 1.6 miles of downhill/flat running followed by a .9 mile long hill, up 320 feet.
I started out at a nice steady pace and was only out for about five minutes when the sky opened up. My shoes got immediately soaked and I had to avoid almost flash flood conditions as I tackled the first loop. I hit the 1.6 mile mark at 12:40, 7:55 pace. That was okay given the conditions and the fact that I wanted to run the first loop conservatively to see how I felt. Then I started the hill. The rain was still coming down fairly hard, but at least it had let up a little. I kept up a nice pace, leaning forward into the hill, as I pumped my arms back and forth. About a quarter of the way up, there are power lines that run perpendicular to the road. Many times growing up, I would see deer running along this area and across the road. I didn't see any deer today though. I crested the hill at the 2.5 mile mark at 21:49. I had covered the hill at a pace slightly slower than a 9:00 pace. Not too bad, I thought, as I rounded the corner and started the second loop.
A quarter mile down the road, I pulled my arms out of my soaked tee shirt so that it was now just dangling from my neck. At the 4.0 mile mark, a car just in front of me splashed through a puddle and it sent water flying sixty feet in all directions. I was spared from this tidal wave because I hadn't reached that spot yet. As the person drove by, I couldn't help but smile and wave. It really didn't matter if I had gotten splashed though because I was already drenched.
My smile turned serious shortly thereafter as I neared the hill for the second time. The rain had almost stopped, but there was a river of water running down the hill, which made it difficult for me to run along the side of the road. I again started up the hill with a determined attitude. I wanted to at least do the second loop at the same speed if not faster. My feet did feel like I had ankle weights on though, which didn't help much. Let me be honest with you, I decided that I liked this hill or so I kept telling myself. I'm told that if you say something enough times, you start to believe it, even if it's not necessarily true. When I had almost reached the finish, I picked up my pace and worked to the finish. I hit my watch and stopped to catch my breath. After several seconds, I looked to see my time, which read 43:36. Wait a minute here. My first leg was run in 21:49. My math revealed that I had run the second loop in 21:47, a 2 second negative split. I can live with that.
Time with tell if this training will actually help me in the race. I plan on trying to do the same thing next Sunday except I might try to do the loop three times at a slightly faster pace. But who knows. Maybe I'll actually go out and run the actual course if I can find the time.