Sunday was the 33rd Annual Decker Challenge Half Marathon — a beast of a course full of hills and unfriendly weather from start to finish. I knew it would be tough, but there seems to be a disconnect between what I think my ability is and what my ability actually is. But let’s start from the beginning.
Short version: Run up a hill. Run down a hill. Repeat.
Longer Version: The Decker Challenge is this Sunday out near the Travis County Expo Center. As I mentioned awhile back this isn’t just any ol’ 13.1 mile run. This is an act of aggression against runners of all kinds. Here’s the elevation chart again. At least the weather will be runner-friendly: 42 degrees, cloudy, not too windy.
p style=”text-align: left;”>I’ve been semi-seriously preparing for this course, picking out hilly routes and focusing on speed work. The best tactic I had though was actually going out and running the course. It wasn’t quite as bad as expected, but certainly demands respect. At this point my goal is to go sub 1:40. As Colin pointed out (based on my past goal-compared-to-result) I’ll probably come in around 1:34. I’m not so confident, but we’ll see how it all shakes out. I’ll be wearing
#750. Wish me luck!
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!
Challenge. From now until mid-February I’ll be focusing on four races with the intentions of pushing the pace and building strength. In order to get there I put together a new training plan. It’s based off of an advanced 10K plan, so there’s plenty of speed and tempo workouts for some early morning punishment. Check out the TRAINING tab to get a look at what I’ll be doing for the next 18 weeks. Wish me luck!