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I am not a fan of hills. I try to avoid hilly races. If someone describes a race as ‘kinda hilly’ or ‘challenging’ or in any way alludes to a ‘killer hill at mile xyz,’ I’m out. No gracias.
But it’s not super realistic or possible to ban all hilly races from my running calendar. I like to run. I like to race often. This means I either need to step it up and run some hills or find a new hobby (preferably one that involves food at the end).
So I’ve some to terms with the fact that I will face hills in my life. Oh, and in running. And when I do find myself at the start line of a hilly race I have a method to ensure I still have a good race.
When faced with hills I accept the things I cannot change (the hills), look for the courage to change the things I can (my attitude toward said hills) and the wisdom to know when to push myself and when to take a walking break.
In trying to search for some wisdom, I find another goal for the race. This weekend I ran the Laguna Hills Half Marathon. Yeah, it’s a little hilly. And that’s good for me. It makes me a better runner. It makes me stronger.
My goal for the race was simple: Don’t walk. That was it. I just wanted to run the whole thing without walking any of the hills.
This wasn’t just about ‘powering through’ the steep ones—it meant I had to run smart. I had to manage my energy and realize how hard to push when chipping away at a big hill. I had to enjoy the downhills and make sure I caught my breath when it was flat. It was a great exercise in being aware of how I felt during the race. I stayed very in tune with my body (and my quads were on fire by mile 10, they let me know loud and clear).
In the end, I was super proud of myself for staying positive and pushing through a challenging course. I felt good about my effort and wasn’t super worried about my finish time (it was 01:48:00, in case you’re worried about it though).