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?).

I’m screwed.


Filed under Marathon Training, MCM, Mt. Vernon Trail Run, Runs

10 responses to “Hills

  1. You’re not screwed … you’re going to do great. 🙂 At least it’s at the beginning? Maybe the rest of the time will seem like a breeze in comparison!

    I run on a trail out and at the very end is this awful, mercilessly steep hill… I can’t even speedwalk up this hill on a good day without having to catch my breath, much less run.

    • That’s what I’m hoping — if I take it easy on the early hills, I might have enough left for later. We’ll see. The first 3 miles being one big uphill, then again for another 2 miles, totally freaks me out.

      • Don’t let some hills sike yourself out!

        Take it easy at the beginning and make up for it going downhill.

        Besides you will be so pumped at the start it will carry you uphill!

  2. Oops meant to leave that as a comment not a reply. I sorry

  3. Another reason I like running in Texas. Are you sure you don’t want to fly to Dallas and pace the White Rock Marathon for me?

  4. I think it should be pointed out that the scale of the Chicago graph is different than the few below it (it’s a difference of 40 and the others are 60). If you match it to the size of the others, it would flatten out more. (right?)

    Either way, yikes @ MCM. Yikes!

  5. Pingback: Confidence in Hills « I Run, You Run

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