The Boston Marathon is famous for its Newton Hills. Starting at the 16 mile mark is a series of 4 hills. Each hill is not all that big, and they are spaced out with at least a half mile recovery between each one. The fourth one, is the biggest. It is the Infamous Heartbreak Hill. The top of Heartbreak Hill is at the 21 mile mark. After Heartbreak you have almost nothing but descent to the finish line in Boston.
I have devised a practice course to simulate Boston. I noted a couple of years ago that the elevation gain of the Newton Hills is about the same elevation gain as you would get by running any of the roads that connect Bolz Ranch Road with Rancho Vista Blvd in the area of Hillview Middle School. From Hillview eastward is a nice descent that simulated the final miles of Boston. So what I did was start at 60th west on the aqueduct. I began at 6:20 and I ran a little more than 4 1/2 miles out and back, on my own. At 7:00 (the HDR official group run time) Jeff Smith was there to meet me. (Clay was there to pick up any potential mountain runners on their way to his trail run.) Jennie Smith was there to run with Fran. Karl had started his run at his house. Soon we saw him running up the hill to meet us.
Once Karl got there, he, Jeff and I headed east on the aqueduct. We ran all the way to the access road behind Highland. We ran down the access road (P-12) and through the neighborhood behind Highland. We continued north on 30th West to Rancho Vista Blvd. Here we began the Boston simulation part of the run. We ran west on Rancho Vista up the hill to Towncenter. We ran down Towncenter and went left on Bolz Ranch. We continued Northwest between Rancho Vista and Bolz Ranch: Up Homeridge, down Cricket (Jeff turned back for home), up Peonza Lane (Karl headed for home as well), and down the streets behind Hillview, finally I ran up the biggest hill -N8 – my Heartbreak Hill.
From the top of N8 I cruised east on Rancho Vista all the way to Jamba Juice!
Here are the splits from my run:
I am planning on running this two more times before Boston – 3 weeks from today on February 25th and 6 weeks today on March 17. My weekend plans leading up to Boston look something like this: