Yesterday morning was the Hospital Hill Run in Kansas City...the granddaddy of races here, celebrating it's 39th year.
It's so named because it takes place in an area of several local hospitals, that rest among some - well, hills. And if you know anything about western Missouri/eastern Kansas - hills are rare. Very rare. In trying to train for this, it's not easy to find hills in one's neighborhood to emulate what you'll find on the course.
I had been training the last few months to participate in the 10k...which is something I've never ran before. However, some issues with my hips, as well as some surgery adhesions, convinced me that I was probably not ready for the 10k - especially on such a grueling course. So, a few days ago, I switched to the 5k.
After getting up at 5:15 am yesterday morning, Hubby and I made our way downtown...joining approximately 9,000 other dedicated runners to "conquer the Hill." There were three courses - the 5k, 10k and the dreaded Half-Marathon. I can't even imagine the Half-Marathon at this point, but that's a goal further on down the road.
Hubby and I found our assigned corrals, and shortly after 7:00 a.m., we were off.
The first quarter-mile was all downhill...and I was lulled into a mistaken sense of false security, thinking, "Oh, this isn't so bad. I can handle this."
We eventually turned a corner, and there, looming in front of me, was our first (of several, it turned out) hill.
We learned very quickly that they aren't kidding when they call this the "Hospital HILL."
It seemed that we'd no sooner reach the crest of that hill, and I'd look up ahead and see a mass of humanity all going straight uphill. Seriously?
"Oh, crap!" I said at one point. "Are you KIDDING me??!!! This is RIDICULOUS! Where did all of these freakin' hills COME from??" Like the race organizers brought them in special just for the race.
Hubby said, "Quit looking ahead! Just look at the pavement, and you won't KNOW you're going uphill!"
Uh huh. Like that's going to work. Sorry, Hubby - but my hips and knees know when they're running uphill. They're not dumb.
You know it's bad when the winner of the Half-Marathon, a Kenyan, was quoted after his win, "Those hills are raging...." That's a new one - "raging hills" - but I get his point.
While running up the 3rd or 4th mountain, (because, really, at this point, they'd moved beyond "hills"), I overheard someone tell their racing partner, "Just pretend you have helium balloons attached to your knees."
Hee hee. That actually gave me the giggles, which gave me some extra energy to make it up that particular hill. Thanks for that, whoever you were. I'll have to remember the helium balloon trick for next time.
Our goal yesterday was to finish. With a respectable time. And not be last. We weren't out to medal, or place - we were just hoping to not die. And so, we accomplished our goals.
My pace was a somewhat sad 13:14 per mile, which isn't the greatest, but for my first big race, and for not training the last few weeks, I was happy. It gives me something to work towards - something to beat - and I think...perhaps...if I can get better in my training ...that 10k is within reach next year.
Yesterday, at least in Kansas City, the hills were alive...with the sounds of some heavy breathing on my part, along with some cursing - those darn hills!!!!