Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hill Repeats at Iwo Jima

Yesterday I celebrated the longest day of the year by being awake for all of it. That means I saw the sunrise at 5:43am as I arrived at the Iwo Jima Memorial (U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial) for a pre-work hill repeat workout.

Yep, I hope you’re impressed.

Most people hear “hill repeats” and shudder in dread and horror. Hills are a bit horrifying, but worse in theory than in practice. I hate racing up hills, but running them in workouts is surprisingly fun-ish (until two hours later when I’m sitting at my desk, feeling like I just got hit by a bus).

And if you’re going to be gasping for breath on a leg-burning uphill, it may as well be somewhere with a view, right? Coach George has devised a great workout around the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington. It’s about a 1K (.67 miles exactly) lollypop-shaped loop, starting at the intersection of Iwo Jima Memorial Access Road and N. Marshall Drive. You run up the access road, around the Memorial, and back down the way you came. The hill isn’t too steep (about a 4% grade), so the challenge comes with repetition and duration.

The Workout:
  1. Run hard (but not an all-out sprint) up the hill to the top (middle of the parking lot).
  2. Jog a recovery to complete the loop.
  3. Stride 100m downhill.
  4. Jog the last hundred meters back to the start.
Yesterday I did 6 loops, so about 4-ish miles total, plus a long warm up and cool down.

Last Tuesday night we attempted this workout, but were majorly obstructed by the Marine Band Tuesday night concert (I'm struggling to find a link to more info...but I can't, so fyi there's a parade/concert at 7pm every Tuesday in the summer).

Running hills while a marching band plays You’re A Grand Old Flag is great. Running hills when Marines are doing a completely silent honoring-something drill is awkward (and boarder-line disrespectful? We were completely outside the performance area…but still).

Thus the Tuesday morning (instead of evening) workout time.

Yesterday morning the Marine bus rolled in when I was at hill #3, and inadvertently provided some much-needed inspiration. I was at that point where the hills were feeling hard and I was getting cranky about the morning/the running/life in general.

One side of the Marine bus says: “Earned. Never given.” Awesome. That phrase gave me a much needed kick in the mental whiny-pants. Obviously they’re talking about much more important things than my race-day fitness, but the idea helped me finish the workout strong.

We'll be doing hill workouts for the next couple weeks, so look forward to more hill obloquies* and ecominums*!

*obloquy - n. abusive language aimed at a person or thing.
*ecominum - glowing and warmly enthusiastic praise