Visiting Blueberry Hill

“It’s just a hill – get over it!” – I don’t know who said it, but this is one of my favourite running quotes.

If you’ve run the Whistler Half Marathon route in the past, or even taken a look at the course outline, you know that early in the race you’ll be met with a 1/2 mile climb called Blueberry Hill. Truth be told, I love a good hill. And that hill, it ain’t no joke.

Blueberry Hill meanders, just when you think you’re at the top and you’ve conquered the beast, you’ve got one more push before the climb is really over…and then another 11 miles to go to the Finish, but who’s counting? 🙂

I know that for me, on race day, one of the biggest things that helped me get through the race was knowing I’d run up Blueberry Hill at least 12 times prior to race day. During training we did hill repeats there a few times, our long runs on Saturday mornings followed the race course which meant we saw that hill every weekend. I knew I could get up that climb.

Blueberry Hill - that's not the top

Blueberry Hill during a training run – that’s not the top

Yesterday I went out for a run. I ran home from Nester’s Market to where we live, south of Creekside. Total distance of 8km. And I decided to throw in Blueberry Hill, just to see. Just to mark down mentally where I am at during the non-training months. I’m not even sure when the last time was that I ran Blueberry, it very well could have been on race day last year.

Honestly, I expected to walk. I’m not saying that to freak out those who’ve never attempted Blueberry Hill and won’t get a chance before June 1, I’m saying that because I truly had no expectations of being able to get myself up and over that hill at a steady running pace. As that hill loomed before me, I promised myself that however I reached the crest of Blueberry Hill I’d be happy with it.

And I ran the whole thing. No stopping; head and chest up, shoulders back, drive forward with the knees, arms pumping and a smile on my face when I reached the top still running! I may have even “woot!”-ed myself at the top.

Going forward, I know I will be visiting Blueberry Hill often. Even before training starts. Maybe for some hill repeats. Maybe just on a day when I know I need a challenge. Maybe even for fun. Because there is nothing more fun on a run than reaching the top of a hill and feeling that satisfaction of knowing you, and only you, got yourself there.

Question time! Leave a comment on any of the following:

Do you love running hills? Yes, without question. Hills are hard, we have plenty of them here in Whistler, and I enjoy the punishment that they provide on what could otherwise be an easy run.

Where are some of your favourite hills to run? Blueberry Hill is definitely a favourite, but I also really like a good trail run and Comfortably Numb is full of challenging hills. I also really like the portion of the Valley Trail between Function Junction and Bayshores, pretty much uphill the whole way.

What is the hardest hill you’ve ever conquered? Hands down, Training Hill Trail (aka K2) on the Western States 100 trail in California. 1 mile of climbing, and the grade is steep (it even says so on the sign at the bottom of the trail). I didn’t run it, but the hike was brutal. 

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