The hills.

Dear Friends,

I drove to and from the grocery store the other day, a trek of about 12 miles round-trip. Both coming and going, I noticed several runners alongside the road, all dressed identically, wearing CamelBak hydration backpacks, and clearly on a long group run.

Coming home, I noticed one of the women was struggling mightily with the hills. I felt her pain.

Ever since moving to a new state a few months ago, I have despised running. I used to run four to six times per week, for long distances (up to 12 miles). Now I struggle to run four miles. My pace has dropped considerably, as has my commitment to the routine. And it’s all because of the hills.

A native flatlander, I grew up on America’s prairie. I always breathe easier surrounded by the austere beauty of an unbroken horizon — above the skyline, a bright blue field with cumulus punctuation marks; below the skyline, a saturated green wave.

Now, 300 miles away in the relentless rolling hills and higher elevation of a heavily wooded state, I am drunk, dizzy, unsettled by the earth’s swooping terrain that is so unfamiliar to me. I can’t seem to get my sea legs and I’m more than a bit claustrophobic without an uninterrupted view.

And I hate running the hills. I struggle to get up the hills with aching thighs and burning lungs. I struggle to run down the hills with loose hips and weak ankles. I wasn’t made for this land and I feel it every step of the way.

A few years ago my mother watched me return from a particularly long and taxing run. I was red-faced and sweaty and grunting with every move by the time I got home. She shook her head and asked me why I do it.  “Because it beats the alternative,” I replied. She didn’t understand so I explained. “Running is hard, but it beats not being able to do it.”

So I commiserated, albeit silently, with the poor woman I saw the other day, a runner so taxed she had quit running in favor of a slow walk up the steepest incline near our home. It kills a runner to walk, you know. (That’s why we’re runners, not walkers.) I watched her surrender to the hill and wondered if the universe brought me here to teach me that.

Wouldn’t that be just the thing the universe wanted to tell me (a writer who says life is a rollercoaster yet despises every hill because the irony is always lost on the author)?

With gratitude {for still beating the alternative},

Joan the Plodding Flatlander

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Comments

  1. Keep on plodding, Joan. You’ll get there.

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