With just 15 days remaining until the start of the New York City Marathon, I went chasing hills today near Hawley as part of my final preparations in this long buildup to this once-in-a-lifetime race.
As I set out for one of the final pieces of the training puzzle, it struck me that I’ve been on the road quite a bit over the past few months: no less than four trips to the hills to build leg strength for New York City’s bridges. That’s more than 90 miles each way from home.
The gravel roads and Minnesota hills have been a staple in my training for more than 6 years – ever since I realized a steady diet of them would help prepare me for Grandma’s Marathon. In many ways, it’s a retreat where I can get lost in my thoughts, away from the bustling city, and batter my body into submission and test my mental limits. And, with so many long runs in the hills, I have a frame of reference that gives me a good indication of how my fitness stacks up to previous marathon training.
Today, about 2 miles into a 14-mile run, a guy pulled up next to me in his pickup, and we had a nice chat. For the next mile, we talked about running (years ago, he ran Grandma’s Marathon and his family ran in relay races), my upcoming race in New York City and a little bit about cycling. It’s conversations like those that make running fun, and reminds me about the camaraderie of our sport’s community.