I’m still not training just yet, so I’m still running what I want to run.
And the other day, I wanted to run hills.
Which is crazy, right? (Answer: Right!)
Less than a half mile from my house, the Perfect Hill exists. Once upon a 2012 and a 2013, I didn’t find the hill to be so perfect. Training for the Pittsburgh Marathon last year taught me to appreciate it just a little more.
I worked hard to make it up just one time without stopping.
It felt brutal at times.
I didn’t always make it. I frequently needed to pause, to catch my breath, and as the weather warmed, to cool down. Hills make me overheat more than usual.
And so I didn’t really know what to expect this past week when I ran off in the direction of the hill. I made it my goal to make it up just once without stopping. With all the extra strength work I’ve been doing over the past two months, I felt like my legs might be strong enough to make it.
And they were!
I ran that hill, slow and steady, all the way to the top.
To say I felt proud is an understatement. I kind of did a fist pump as I turned and ran back down the hill. Yes, I decided to run it again.
But first, I decided to run out the country road a little bit to cool down. I felt warm despite the cool temperatures, so I didn’t want to run the hill immediately. I knew I would overheat.
Out the country road I ran, enjoying the sunny day and the light breeze and the unleashed dogs… oh dear. They noticed me before I noticed them. These dogs were the ones the local mailman warned me about as he gave me his pepper spray one day. I took another couple of strides toward them before I realized they were moving in my direction.
So I turned around and ran back the way I came.
I ran faster. I ran really fast. I outran the dogs.
And found myself at the foot of the hill totally out of breath and totally overheated—exactly what I didn’t want to happen. I paused and rested for a few minutes to allow my breath to return, and then I started up the hill.
I paused once mid-hill, still overheated, but then took the rest of the hill very slowly all the way to the top. I finished my run with the knowledge that I can embrace the hill. I can still do hard things, run long distances, beat big hills.
I can and I will.