Today, I ran up my Big *&$%ing Hill.
I was extremely slow, and sometimes felt like I was running in slow motion, or in molasses. Lifting a leg and placing the foot felt so deliberate, so utterly turtle-like, and it was all I could do to keep going, keep pushing, keep reaching for the end. I made it to the top, stopped, turned around, and stared down that hill while I caught my breath. The hill I have walked up all year, a hill I have used as a touchstone to my fitness level since starting this crazy journey. A hill I swore I would beat. I gave myself no deadline, I just wanted to be able to do it.
And I did.
A big, toned, gorgeous man all layered up for the cold loped up behind me as I revelled for a moment, reliving all the times this summer I have ascended this hill, determined to beat it someday. He gave me a big smile and said “Its a tough one!” before turning the corner and heading towards Alexandra Bridge. I think you couldn’t have burst my elation bubble if you’d tried. A witness! Now it has to be true!
I. %$#^@&$. Did. It.
At the beginning of the year, my goal was simply to walk up the hill without dieing (My Hill To Climb). This was before I realized I could run, and before I had fully drank the electrolyte Kool-Aid and become a “runner”. (Yes, I am a runner now, I am very comfortable labelling myself thusly).
Walking up that hill suddenly became Not Enough©. I wanted to run up the thing, like the runners who whisped past me in March. There was no whisping involved today, but hey, before you whisp, you gotta… erm… Dust? Curry (for my horsey folks, you know who you are)? Tromp? Tip-toe in tulips?
I think my analogy just died… Let’s just say, give me another year, and I will be cruising up that thing, not doing the slow-motion running movie scene impersonation. *fistpump*
Today was a hill workout. Some formal runners call them “Hill Repeats”. I just call them self-volunteered torture. Hills are supposed to make you stronger and faster, so I have been trying to do hills once every couple of weeks, and on the treadmill when I do interval work. My walking segments are always at grade on the treadmill.
Today I did some repeats up a small segment of hill at Major’s Hill Park, circling around a few times, sprinting up, jogging down to recover. Then I popped over to my hill. I jogged down, and up to the locks. I did two repeats of the steep hill to the stairs there, watching confused runners on the other side curse as they realized they can no longer cross the locks. One poor woman got visibly upset, gesturing wildly and shouting. Poor thing.
Dudes, its December… the locks are open so the ice doesn’t make them splinter and fall apart! World heritage site, and all that… But I get it. Not being able to cut across the locks adds quite a bit more to your run to go around, and you miss out on the Big *&$%ing Hill.
I set off at a jog to go back up my Hill. I was getting nervous, and worried. I wanted to attempt it today, but I wasn’t sure I was ready. I was getting tired from the smaller hill sprints… and I almost walked. Almost. There was a few moments where I hesitated, knowing there was suck ahead, shying away from it, not wanting the hurt, not believing I could do it.
Then, I remembered something I tell my son when he falls and scrapes something, or bumps his knees. Seriously, little boys must have titanium in their knees. He has so many bumps, bruises and scrapes on those knobby leg hinges! I tell him “Pain isn’t forever. Pain goes away. But pain is important.” He always nods his somber little head, sniffles, and goes bouncing off after a hug, and shaking the offending limb, saying “OWWWW” really loudly. We get him to shake things he hurts. It means he is not asking for kisses for his boo-boos. We stopped that after he started asking for kisses on his bum and his little man-bits when he had a rash. Ummm… yeah. let’s try something new, Sweetie.
Seriously, you should see the funny if he bites his tongue.
So I remembered that advice I give my kids, reminded myself how good it would feel to get to the top and relieve my muscles of the painpainpain. I repeated my goal to get up the $#^@ing hill in my head. Then, for good measure (and because I really, really needed the visual) I smacked my Self Critic Beast as hard as I could, (figuratively, because smacking myself while running would not be productive) and kicked it.
I slowed right down, I swear walking would have been faster, but I was determined. My lungs were aching by the time I got to the top. Im my imagination, the top of my quads fell off right there on the pathway, and I was all “Well, there you go.” , picked them up, put them into my SPI Belt, and walked back to work. Although, how one walks without quads is beyond me. Heh.
from there, I did some more sprints up smaller hills around the park, and then jogged it out for a few blocks back to work, going the long way. I felt good, but that hill had pooped me out. Well, perhaps the culmination did.
See you next week, Big @#$%ing Hill. You and me, we have an achievement to build on.