The Chicago marathon is known for being a flat race. I did not think the marathon was flat. There were hills, and though they weren’t long or particularly steep, they were there. But when I spoke with Meg right after the race, she was excited that the marathon really was flat. Huh?
This is what the elevation chart for the marathon was, according to my Garmin:
Yes, I stared at this for a few seconds and thought “this is in no way hilly, was I high?”
So then I got curious and started checking out my other runs. This is the profile for my usual runs on Wednesdays, at the Mt Vernon Trail from Crystal City…
Ok, but how about when I take the 14 Street Bridge onto DC? It’s an extra mile, but that has a bridge! Right in the middle of my run!! Now THAT’s a change in elevation! It’s a real bridge, right over the Potomac River!!!
Oh crap, maybe not. (So why does going up that bridge from the trail feels so hard??)
Ok, so when I run from work to Pentagon City (almost home!), there are some hilly parts, right??
And I KNOW that running on the C&O Canal, where I did my 20 milers, there is some elevation, because at some point we’re totally above the Potomac River!
Oh wait, we go from about 50 to about 150 feet in roughly 15 miles?? No wonder it never actually felt like a hill.
Don’t get me wrong, DC and Arlington, where I live, have some BIG STEEP HILLS. But I run on trails. On scenic trails. Those that have a waterfront view and follow the river. And they are pretty. And, oh, wait, right. That’s why they’re flat… *sigh*
Now you understand why the constant uphill/downhill in Chicago was considered hilly for me — they were not big hills, but when I’m thinking about a “flat” course, I’m thinking it’s like Virginia Beach. Or like the trails I’m used to (that have some elevation, and those are bridges and overpass, not, you know, hills).
So now you can understand why when looking at the Marine Corps Marathon elevation chart, I get a tad fearful… At least after mile 8, I’m golden (but can I run downhill for 2 miles?).