The 1980 Houston-Tenneco course had several significant rolling sections, and this worried me. I had strained my hamstring eight weeks before the race and had to lay off from fast running. As the time closed in on the marathon date, I discovered that the only speed sessions I could do were hill repeats with a shortened stride. While the injury was not fully healed, I picked up the turnover and jokingly told myself that I was the fastest “short strider” in the U.S.!
The hill’s resistance gave the quality of speed play needed to run a high-performance marathon. The stride reduction released the tension on the hamstring and allowed it to continue healing. Not only did I recover while doing quality work, I passed about two dozen competitors while going up hills in the race itself. They were huffing and puffing, and I was zooming by at my normal respiration rate. I ran strong to the finish in a lifetime best of 2:16.