I messed around with my workout calendar this week because doing a tempo workout inside on the treadmill sounded way more enticing than doing hill reps in the slush [yes, being on the treadmill won out...doubt you'll ever hear me say THAT again!]. I had an XT day scheduled for today, but now that my knee appears to be cool with my ever-climbing mileage, that second XT day is probably on it's way out anyway, and I was in the mood to get my second workout of the week out of the way...so hills it was! I've been planning ever since I put this workout on my calendar to do it on Heartbreak, because despite the fact that I live ridiculously close to the famed Newton Hills, I hadn't actually run out there yet...they kind of intimidated/scared me off with all that talk about them haha.
So I checked out the marathon course map to see where exactly this mystical hill was...now I realize the BAA wants to emphasize the history and all of the landmarks along the course but seriously? Worst course map ever. [Actually, it really is kind of cool, and I'm probably going to print it out and put it on my wall of motivation right now...but anyway...] According to that map, Heartbreak started somewhere near the intersection of Centre and Commonwealth, which I mapped as being ~2.8 miles from my house. OK, no big deal - my warmup and cool down can be a little longer, my mileage-whore mindset is ALWAYS ok with that!
I rolled out the door and instantly I was cruising...just one of those glorious runs where from the moment you start everything just clicks and it all seems effortless. I ran through my usual section of Comm Ave and onward into the Newton Hills...which is where the adventure began. I was filled with glee at the fact that I was running on the Boston Marathon course - this is a GREAT thing because it's the first time since I started training that I've legit gotten excited about the fact that I'm running this marathon. I started out on the sidewalk but switched over to the random frontage/side road pretty fast because apparently the Newton-ites aren't too big on shoveling or salting? The sidewalk was a mess. So I come to the cross street before Centre street, and I'm thinking to myself that I should be running down a big hill...right? But Centre Street comes and goes, and there's not a big, scary, hill to be found. I also tried looking for the famous Johnny Kelley statue...which I also couldn't find. Sooo I kept running until I reached something that kind of resembled a hill...another mile or so down the road. Woo hoo, looks like I'm running 10 miles today! I was feeling so fabulous, I didn't even care.
The workout was nothing too exciting, but I felt strong on my 2 minute hill intervals, running them all around 7:00 pace up a nameless Newton hill that I think I'm going to dub "Heartache Hill"...hehe. :) It wasn't terribly steep but definitely enough to know you were running up a hill. Apparently miles 18-20 of the course are where all the cool people hang at 6 pm on Wednesday nights, because the side road was a sea of runners in reflective vests and spandex. Also, to the person who decided to build a new house along the marathon route? The one with the Porta Potty outside? You are my hero, just fyi. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has taken advantage of this strategic location haha.
Hill workout finished, I headed back homewards. Lo and behold..I FOUND Heartbreak Hill! My impression: not really that steep, but looong. Definitely a climb I could see taking it out of you at mile 20 of a marathon, but all in all? Not too scary. Also, its followed by a long, glorious downhill which has got to be the best thing that can come after a long, hideous, uphill, right? Actually, I noticed the course inbound [the actual course] seemed like way more downhill than the course outbound. I totally felt like I was flying. Would I like to summon some flying feet at mile 20 of the marathon? Umm yes please! Now that I know that there are peeps out on the course day and night, I am going to make it my mission to know the last 10 miles of that course like it's my home. That freaking course is going to be paved with the rubber of my training shoes. I'm lucky enough to basically live on the course of that marathon, so if I didn't use that to my advantage in training, I would just be an idiot. And based on the surge of adrenaline and excitement I got today just BEING on that fabled route, if I can carry that over to the next 12 weeks, well that would just be utterly incredible.
Up until today, I have been kind of...shall we say...not pumped about the fact that I signed up for another marathon. It was like...I vaguely knew that I should be excited about this marathon that I worked really hard to qualify to run. But part of me was kind of like...okay, you worked your butt off so you could qualify to work your butt off AGAIN and then run another long-ass race and try not to die. And I have lamented my loss of speed as I've focused more on marathon training, and whined about trying to find time to run now that I have a job, and just generally got through the workouts but didn't really get jacked about them.
Today was different. Today I had the thought actually cross my mind that if I actually follow this semi-ambitious training plan that I have going, one that actually involves speedwork and pace training and not just aimlessly running all the time, that there is actually a chance in hell that I could race this marathon for a PR. It was like something hit me on that course today - that deep down, I know I'm capable of more in this distance. And as I plowed my way up Heartbreak, hardly even realizing it was THE Heartbreak Hill...it's like my mind figured it out - well DUH, silly, you didn't think you were going to do all this training to half-ass the race, did you?
The way to Heartbreak Hill for me is paved with pace work until I puke, mile repeats workouts that I dread, fartleks until I drop and long runs off into the sunset. But with this thought in my mind, of feeling like I did today, strong and powerful, on this famed hill when I run up it on April 19, I'll get through it. I'll do it. I know the way now, to Heartbreak Hill and beyond to the finish line. And it's going to be one hell of a trip. :)