Let’s get straight to the point: the Marines know how to kick your ass. And no, I’m no talking about being enlisted (though I hear that’s rather grueling). I’m talking about the Marine Corps races.
Last year when I ran the Marine Corps Marathon, it was clear that these guys and gals don’t mess around. The first 6.5 miles were hills. The 14th Street Bridge is where runners started dropping like flies. Oh, and don’t forget the last 2 miles of steady incline. Endurance, determination, and David got me past that finish line.
Fast forward to 2015, and I’ve already completed two Marine Corps events: the half-marathon in May and Run Amuck, which was yesterday. The half-marathon was more hilly than I anticipated, and it was my slowest 13.1 mile race ever. And Run Amuck…boy did I underestimate that.
Run Amuck was held on the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia. It was four miles of trail running through mud pits and 25 obstacles. What types of obstacles? Wall scaling. Tires. Obstacles testing balance. Crawling under wires through mud. A bungee cord spider web. Cargo net A-frames.
I endured hot temperatures, scrapes, and mud in places I don’t even want to talk about, but I survived. (See the happy hot mess below.)
But the real killer wasn’t the obstacles: it was the hills. As you can see, there’s a theme here, and that’s my underestimating of hills.
Why do so many runners hate them? Because they can burn you out…fast. A running buddy told me that you should attack hills using the same effort as you are running flat. You don’t necessarily want to take them slower, just at the same effort. I didn’t follow that rule, and instead either charged them when I felt strong enough, or walked up them when my legs couldn’t take the incline any longer. During a race, there is nothing more discouraging to me than having to walk up a hill. Thankfully, Run Amuck isn’t timed.
I’ve decided that I’m going to give more attention to hill training this year. Physically it’s going to be difficult, but it’s going to be a real challenge for me mentally — last year’s calf injury was hill-related. But, I can’t let fear or my insecurities get in the way. I will make the hills my bitches this year. It’s that simple. And I’ll do it wearing my game face.
As the heat and humidity begin testing us, remember this when it gets tough:
“Courage isn’t having the strength to go on.
It is going on when you don’t have the strength.”
Now put your game face on and show those miles who’s boss: YOU.