Hannah Vs. Highgate Hill

I have managed a series of long runs over the last 5 weeks, all between 11 and 12 miles and all but one at a comfortable 9:30 min/mile pace. The most recent two of these runs have included tackling my running nemesis: Highgate West Hill.
 

I first ran up this hill at the beginning of 2011 with the Mornington Chasers and it has haunted me ever since. I wrote about that hill on this blog, detailing how hard it was to run up. I remember getting halfway up and thinking that the hill was never going to end and so I may as well just sit down and live on the hill forever, or that I would keep running until I died of exhaustion on the hill, or that I had already died, this hill was purgatory and I would be running up it for the rest of time. I have relayed the story of that run to others as a warning of the terror  at the top of Highgate Hill and have avoided it like the plague ever since. I never thought that I would be able to run all the way up the hill and I certainly never thought that I would enjoy running up it. But I faced my fears at our weekly club meet a few weeks ago and set off to face the hill with a modest 9:15min/mile group and guess what? It wasn’t that bad.

 

Profile of one of my running routes over Highgate West Hill

 

It turns out that 6 months of running along the undulating paths of Hampstead Heath and tackling Parliament Hill on my weekly Parkrun has armed me with the necessary determination and high knees to get me up that hill with the speed and finesse of a mildly arthritic mountain goat. Having cured my fear of Highgate Hill I have now run up it a further 3 times, twice incorporating it into my weekly long run  and again with the club. It’s this latest club run that I am particularly pleased with as I managed to keep up with the 9min/mile group for the whole 7.4 mile route, even running up Primrose Hill at the end! I have run faster than this over this distance in the past, but never with a hill like that in the middle!

 

Hoorah for Highate Hill. I think that we’re gonna be really good friends.

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