This is my fourth season training with Big River Running Training Team. Every week we run somewhere different, but for the past couple of years I have always been out of town when the team runs in Queeny Park. Today I was thrilled to get a chance to run there, a park I’ve never run before. Other runners always mention the hills at this park, but I thought how hilly can a park really be? (Foreshadowing.)
We met at the Big River Running west county store on Manchester.
We all crammed inside the store with our pace groups, conserving what warmth we could.
Shortly after 7:30am my 10:45 group took off toward the park. Our pace leader Meghan said we’d be running by effort moreso than pace due to the hills. That was fine with me because I was nervous about slick spots but I again was thinking geez how bad can hills be?
Well, around mile 1.5 I found out. We’d just entered the park (via a gradual hill, no problem) and I was enjoying the view of a frozen lake to my left when I looked ahead and saw runners ahead of me in the sky. They were already on “dog museum hill”.
I said oh my god, that looks like climbing a ladder. When we got to the hill, I felt like if I leaned forward any more I’d be crawling on the hill. A bunch of our group dropped to walk. I made it nearly to the top and did the same; my running pace at that time was basically walking anyway. It was just so sharp of an incline.
When we got over the hill I relaxed back into a running pace with the group still in my area.
It was at this point I felt like I was living my favorite poem, but in the morning, and by foot instead of horse.
It was so peaceful to run through the quietness of the woods as the snow fell lightly around us. I wasn’t cold anymore and I was back into a good running rhythm now that the hills were behind us.
Or so I thought.
I mean really?! I’m very proud to say although my pace slowed dramatically, my effort stayed consistent and I didn’t have to walk on any of the hills after dog museum hill. And even better, the little hills felt like nothing!
Once we got out of the woods (literally and figuratively) the path got a lot flatter and it all felt easy.
I can see how deliberately running hilly routes can improve overall running performance. My 10:45 group was dipping into the 9s on the flatter/downhill sections without even realizing it. I loved how strong that made me feel.
As we completed the four mile red hawk trail in the park two women went around for a second loop (bless their hearts) and the rest of us headed back to the store. When we got to the parking lot me and three other women headed back out to add on two more miles to make eight total. Going north on Weidman we got to pass other returning runners, which made it more interesting. But the wind was crazy, somehow getting under my sunglasses and making my eyes water.
It was much better going south, slightly downhill and running with the wind.
I couldn’t believe how great I was feeling. We were running mile 8 in the 9s. I felt like I could have sprinted back but I stuck with my pack.
Next week’s long run- Big River’s U City store!