Well Hillo There

I had an eye-opening revelation recently brought on as a result of some race research.  My next race in the Austin Distance Challenge is the Decker Challenge half marathon.  I figured it would be a good idea to check out what exactly the course had in store now rather than later.  I had heard it was hilly, but didn’t really think twice about it.  I’m not sure what piqued my curiosity but I sure am glad it was piqued.  Turns out “hilly” isn’t the half of it.  Let’s go to the data.

Looking at what could easily be mistaken for an EKG, the elevation profile for the Decker Challenge is, in a word, absolutelyridiculous.  There’s approximately zero flat ground.  You’re either going uphill, downhill, or really uphill.  I pointed out two hotspots that caught my attention.  The first arrow is pointing at a 9.2% grade.  Get on a treadmill and put it on 9%.  Yea.  After that, there are some merciless downhills taking you to the lowest point on the course.  Immediately you hit a 6.2% incline, which isn’t bad, particularly when compared to the laughable 8.2% incline right after.  If those were the only hills on the course it would be considered difficult.  But those are just two of the approximately 21 uphills that will be embracing the pack of runners in December.

To prepare I’ll be running as many long runs as I can on the steepest hills I can find.  Goals for the race will have to be set shortly before game time so that I can see how the hill training pays off.  One thing’s for sure: I won’t be setting any personal records at this race.  It’ll be more survival than anything.  Can’t wait!

2 thoughts on “Well Hillo There

  1. You failed to point out the 10th mile.

    Runners are southbound on 973 in between Mile 9 and 10 on map above. Two hills are presented, each roughly the same grade, but the second twice as long. Through the years, I’ve affectionately referred to the second climb as ‘the widow-maker.’

    After the widow-maker summit, you turn west onto Decker. Look at the map: the final three miles are a false-flat net ascent into the finish. It’s never the hills that kill you; it’s what comes -after- the hills that do you in.

    This year marks the first year since I moved to Austin in 1998 where I won’t be out at Decker in some capacity (out-of-state wedding). Work those hills, enjoy the two-mile drop at Mile 6 and have a great run!

    • Mike says:

      It’s not so much that I ‘forgot’ the monsters between Miles 9 and 10. In actuality I just blacked out after looking at the map and inadvertently hit “Publish”. I’m hoping, for my wife’s sake, that the “widow-maker” is at least a small exaggeration 🙂

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