The loop around campus is half uphill and half downhill with the track at the bottom of the hill. So up I went. It's not the longest climb but it's long enough to make it challenge you mentally and physically. At the top of campus I ran over to a little gated community that also has some hills and then finished running the loop before heading home. The way back from campus to my apartment is also a little hilly. There aren't really hills but it is a very gradual uphill with a nice little climb at the end.
Mile 1: 8:42
Mile 2: 9:04
Mile 3: 9:20 <- hill!
Mile 4: 8:12
Mile 5: 8:21
Mile 5.9: 8:23
I didn't have any time goal for this run since it was supposed to be my track workout. Instead I just ran on feel, not even thinking about running fast or hard. I ran because I wanted to and I enjoyed every minute of it. When I got back to my apartment I was pleasantly surprised to see my pace over such a hilly run, especially since I wasn't intentionally pushing it.
This Wednesday for my track run I knew better. I checked all of the schedules and saw there was a lacrosse game at 4:00 pm. I'll move my workout to Thursday. Problem solved. Except I got out of work much earlier than expected and suddenly had enough time to do my workout before the game. Around 1:30 I headed over to the track, same routine as last week. When I got to the track I was happy to see there was nobody there except for two T&F runners doing some drills.
I did some stretching and started my first repeat, only to be stopped part way through by an athletic director telling me I needed to leave so they could set up for the game. I questioned him and he told me it was too dangerous for me to be there before the game, even though they were only carrying coolers. I started getting upset and asked when I could use the track since every time I tried to I was not allowed. He so kindly informed me that before, during, and after both games and practices the track was closed. Just to clarify, I asked
"so the track is pretty much closed the entire day every day?"
"yes, you can run around the loop if you want to run"
"that's really not an acceptable answer"
The conversation went on for a bit longer, him telling me that the athletic facilities at Division I schools are only for student-athletes and me protesting and calling bullshit. After realizing I was getting nowhere and not wanting to waste my time arguing with him I left. I debated whether to run back to my apartment and call it quits or get in a hard run anyway.
In the end I decided I wasn't going to let him stop me from getting in some good training. So up the hill on the loop I went. And then came the wind. 20-25 mph winds while running uphill can make a person cranky. I pushed harder and harder but felt like I was going backwards. I tried to convince myself that not giving up on the uphills would make the downhills that much sweeter.
7:25 last mile (before cool down)
And it did. I finished strong and happy, despite how challenging that was. It was the kind of run that makes you proud of yourself for pushing through even when you don't feel great and the conditions suck. I was hurting during that last mile, but I needed that. I needed to push myself to that place where I'm begging to stop running because it hurts so badly. Runs like these are what makes us stronger, mentally and physically.