In 2008, I ran the Bronx Half-Marathon. The day before, a teammate on my former team told me that the course was “hilly” so I went online, mapped the course, and figured I found the big hill to which she referred.

In the race itself, there was one short hill early on, but the course did a U-turn before the hill I had mapped earlier. (That would be from Mosholu Parkway to Webster Avenue.) And I found the long down-and-up stretch on the Grand Concourse, into the teeth of a brutal headwind going south, relatively flat, save for a few spots (Fordham Road) where the Concourse ducked under a cross-street.

The race was held last Sunday, and of course I didn’t do it. But I started to see a flood of blog posts in which the course was labeled “hilly.” NYC Running Blog has a list of race-report blogs. Even a guy who calls himself the Laminator and ran a solid time complained (“greeted immediately by one giant uphill, and then another, and then another. Over the next successive four miles, I just remember climbing and climbing, not knowing when the end was in sight”), and posted an elevation chart (below). Thirty by Thirty chimed in “Holy Hills Batman.” I saw a pattern.

Those big dips are Mosholu Parkway, and looking at the graph I can understand why folks would think the course hilly. I just don’t remember it that way. I recall heading down — there’s a wide grass divider on the Parkway — and then turning and heading back up, but it struck me as gradual.

When I raised this issue with TK (PigtailsFlying), she agreed that it was a “flat” course. Cowboy Hazel disagreed (as did numerous of the other bloggers).

In the long-ago New Rochelle Half-Marathon (story, at the end), one ran Paine Boulevard twice — at 2 and at 12 — and I just measured that hill as a bit over 100 feet over half-a-mile. My old club regularly ran hill repeats up Paine, and it would rip you up by the sixth and final one. That workout was a great strength and form builder.

Back to the point. Hills are tricky creatures. I have crawled up them at Van Cortlandt but still flown by others while doing it. This is such a mental game. It follows that the more familiar one is with hills, the more comfortable one is with them. And the less psyched out one is when they are encountered in a race. Hills are a great thing to concentrate the mind. You must maintain good form to make it up comfortably. In Central Park, if you’re heading north and things are a bit off, the Harlem Hills will do wonders to clear out your kinks, as you maintain rhythm and form.

So that’s my mantra on hills. I try to throw them into longer runs, and try to get pure hill workouts in. Nothing like a quad-burning session to give confidence. Mosholu Parkway? You call that a hill?

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