My mind goes to Heartbreak Hill in Boston whenever I am feeling tired and running hills (which feels like all the time in Marin County/San Francisco). I have never been to Boston, and will not get to run Heartbreak Hill until I am racing the course. So, I decided to do a little research.
I found an elevation chart from this article on Runner’s World. Turns out, Heartbreak Hill isn’t the biggest, scariest hill in the world by the numbers. It doesn’t have the biggest incline. The things that make it hard are:
- The 3.3% grade – the elevation change isn’t huge, but it happens in a short period of time.
- The hill happens at mile 20. Mile 20 is famously “the wall” of a marathon – the point when you are hurting in a way you have never hurt before.
- It comes after a lot of miles of downhill pounding on the quads.
I compared Heartbreak to my usual training run spot and it was pretty eye opening. I am so excited to have a coach to help me prep for Boston!
In Boston, the first 16 miles are supposedly a rolling downhill – wearing out your quads prior to entering the first of three Newton hills. Heartbreak Hill being the 3rd, and the toughest, of the Newton hills.
At the end of my first marathon, I was in pain in a way I could have never imagined. It surprised and scared me a little how much it hurt. My hope is that I will become more comfortable with being uncomfortable over time. I don’t think anything can truly prepare you for all that can happen in a marathon. After my shoes were pulled off in an accidental flat tire in Chicago, I reacted by running all out to catch up with the pace group. I would have NEVER thought that would have been my reaction – mostly because it was a STUPID reaction and I would like to think I’m more level headed than that.
I am going to prep for Boston as best as possible. I think having a coach who has run Boston a couple of times is going to help a lot. I don’t know what will happen – but I do know I am already mentally preparing to conquer those hills the best way I can!