Tuesday nights for Team WODS (see here for explanation on why Asia, Jeremy, Mike and I call ourselves this) for the next 8 weeks until the America’s Finest City (AFC) Half Marathon will consist of two things – hill repeats up Torrey Pines and a team dinner. Best double date ever.
We always run AFC (Mike’s 6th year in an row, my 4th) and we always set some lofty goal for ourselves. Then we always get crushed because the course, although beautiful, is not forgiving. It starts with some rolling hills and then proceeds to hammer your quads with about 2 miles of serious downhills before flattening out for a bit and then sloping upward around mile 10.5 and hitting a serious incline at mile 12 that continues basically until the finish line. Essentially, hill training is necessary if you want to do well at AFC and Torrey Pines is our resident hill.
Torrey Pines is just South of Del Mar, a gorgeous wealthy community in North County San Diego. The hill itself is part of the Torrey Pines State Reserve which boasts 2,000 acres of oceanfront property and 8 miles of trails throughout. Most of the trails are hiking trails but there is one paved road that winds up the face of the mountain. This road is part of the La Jolla Half Marathon as well as the Ragnar SoCal course and has a history of crushing souls in a race. It has an average of 6.5% incline for the first mile, but there are several portions that are even steeper. Once you reach the top of the steep portion, there is another 1/2 mile or so of a gentle incline until you reach the end of the park, for a total of a 1.5 mile loop if you begin at the restrooms in the parking lot and run all the way to the gate at the top.
Before we ran the La Jolla half in 2011 we made it out to Torrey for about 5-6 runs. It made a significant difference in our performance at that race and all of Team WODS (unnamed at the time) had big PRs despite La Jolla being a notoriously tough course. Although the hills in AFC aren’t as steep as Torrey, it is still a great way to practice for the race. Running hills can be as great as speed work for your lungs but with the added bonus of building length strength at the same time.
Last night the rest of Team WODS was running late so I started doing short repeats up the hill while I waited. I did three 1/2 mile repeats up the steep portion. Once they arrived, Asia and I ran the 1.5 mile route up to the gate at the top and back and then ran up again, this time probably making it about 1/2 a mile before turning around. Our pace up the steepest portion of the hill is laughable – sometimes over a 12 min/mile pace, but our legs were screaming (we also went to a barre workout that morning!) and lungs were yelling.
At one point we were running down the hill and we saw Mike making his way up, a focused look on his face. Next we saw Jeremy (who took quite a bit of time off after Ironman Cozumel and is just getting back into things) and he deadpanned, “Best double date ever.” Asia and I couldn’t help but laugh – although to most this might seem like a crazy double date, to us it was perfect!
After the workout, we headed over to Asia and Jeremy’s house to cook dinner together. We made tempeh burritos and accompanied them with chips, guacamole, salsa and beer! A great reward for an incredibly tough workout. If we keep it up, by the time AFC comes along we will be ready to crush that hill at the end!
Do you incorporate hill workouts into your training? Do you ever schedule workout dates or double dates?