Friday, July 20

My Own Personal Heartbreak Hill

Well, I have the week off from training my friend, since he's simultaneously moving and house-sitting out of town. And with R away, I'm on my own.

So I took advantage of the recently reopened road near my apartment to do a bit of a hill workout. My favorite hill to run is up Gabriellino Road, 0.41 miles with 100 feet of elevation gain (which puts it at just under a 5% grade on average, though there is a steeper stretch near the quarter mile mark). For comparison, Heartbreak Hill on the Boston course is 0.5 miles with only 80 feet of elevation gain (though it is at Mile 20, which counts for something). I always aim to make it to the top of Gabriellino in under 3 minutes, but I'm usually at around 3:10 to 3:30. Despite having run it probably a hundred times, there have only been two or three occasions when I've actually made it in under 3:00.

Because Gabriellino is only about a block from my house, I usually just run straight over and head right up at the start of my run. But it turns out that's not the best way to tackle that hill. Go figure.

I realized a while back that it takes me at least 3/4 of a mile to warm up properly and settle in to my pace. So putting the hill at the beginning of my run will certainly not give me the best time up Gabriellino. Conversely, putting the hill at the end of my course when I'm on my way home means I tend to run out of gas before I make it all the way up.

So today I had the brilliant idea to put the hill in the middle of my run (at about mile 2.5 out of 4.1), with pleasantly surprising results: 2 minutes and 59 seconds to the top! And I was only slightly inclined to vomit when I got there.

The whole run included a couple of other good-sized hills, so a total of four miles was plenty for today, thank you very much. I have the notion that it will be quite some time before I can put Gabriellino at the 20 mile mark.


Blogger bl said...

Hey - you're a numbers guy---

is there a formula you use to calculate percent grade of elevation gain?

July 20, 2007 3:13 PM  
Blogger KWK said...

Yep. To find the percent grade, I divided the elevation gain by the horizontal distance covered. Multiplying 0.41 miles by 5280 feet/mile gives me 2165 feet. That means the percent grade was 100 feet divided by 2165 feet, or about 4.6%.

July 23, 2007 4:36 PM  

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