Hills should be illegal!
I know you are all expecting my race reports to get crazier and crazier after my goofy race but the next crazy race is not for 5 more weeks (only the 50k folks - I'm not totally insane [well maybe not till 2009]).
But as part of the training we like to get out and do a race every so often and the Mercer Island half is always a good one to start the season with. There's only one problem with this race - its hilly all the way through. I'm not sure if there are actually any parts of it that are totally flat. Even worse our non scientific survey says that there are 3 miles of steep downhill, compared to 10 miles of gradual or steep uphill. I know the net gain for the race is 0ft but it doesn't feel like that.
Because of my upcoming ultra I am running 4 times a week now and I ran 8 miles in a trail run relay last weekend so I was not feeling very fresh going into this race. The first 2-3 miles were more hard work than I remember for a half marathon and I averaged about a 9:40 pace. Heck I ran the first half of the Seattle marathon faster than this (though that was a stupid thing to have done!). One of my running group buddies was running about the same speed but he was water breaking on his own schedule and I was taking water at the fairly regular water stops so we kept passing each other which was nice. Its really strange that because we run together so much we can recognise footsteps, breathing or even a cough as we came up on each other.
Some of the hills are long and slow and you can't always tell its a gradient so you just wonder why things feel so tough. Miles 3-6 I managed to speed up a little to get under 9:30 pace. Some miles were ok, others were just reminding me of the ache in my legs. Its nothing like the last 10 miles of the goofy and its good practise for the 50k so I suck it up and keep plugging on. I can feel the calf where I had my injury getting tight so I'm glad of an excuse not to push too hard.
Around mile 8 I stop for water and when I restart my calf seizes up for a moment. I do some long paces to stretch it out but I can feel that something isn't quite right. Thankfully after a few hundred yards it loosens up but I take the next mile a little slower just in case. At the next water stop at mile 10 I decide to grab a water but not stop and walk in case my leg freezes up again. I really don't know how the elite athletes do it. I slow down to a very slow jog and still spill most of the water on me. A quick check of the watch tells me that I need a 20 minute 5k to PR at this point. Sometimes its nice to know that the pressure is off. I'm still averaging under 9:30 pace so I continue on at that speed.
There's a couple of nasty hills at mile 11 and up to the finish at mile 13 but thankfully J and the rest of the supporter crew are half way up the last hill for inspiration and I come in for a nice 2:04 and 9:27pace. Not my fastest but a good run on tired legs I think.
So now just 5 training weeks left until my 50k (32 mile) run. After that no crazy plans finalized just yet.