Well, I ran that half-marathon and I really enjoyed it. Some miles were more fun than others, but it was a gorgeous day and a perfect trail—and we got to do two water crossings, which were so fun! Splashing across a creek in your running shoes and then taking off for 10 miles is something everyone should try. Ok, maybe you run with tiny pebbles in your socks, but so what? Life is short and you’re tougher than you think. Lace up!
Over the course of the summer training, I discovered that I still love running. (Especially flats and downhills!) Of course, I did not always profess that love while in fact running. What I actually said was something much more cryptic, such as…“I hate running!”
But I love to say I ran.
Now, my personal motto is “If it ain’t fun, I ain’t doing it.” Ok, running isn’t always fun, so you have to make it fun. One trick I learned is the Power of Ludicrous Thinking. Big, bold, sky’s-the-limit thinking. For example, maybe I’m running and if I stop, a million sweet, innocent puppies will get yelled at. Or if I just keep at it, my fat will shrink and I’ll have the super sleek, totally defined thigh muscles I’ve always dreamed of. You know, crazy stuff.
Given that I ran every single training mile plus a few more, without injury, obviously I was doing something right. Having a coach for the first time in my life was a big plus. I’m still running long, slow distances, and now, without the pressure of a deadline or a race, it’s even more fun than before.
First, though, I had to get started after several months of being sedentary. There were days I felt like I was crawling up the mountain where I live. See, the first mile out my front door is straight up, a 405-foot elevation gain. The second mile adds another 200+. In the beginning, I mostly felt like a loser running up that first mile, which I have fondly nicknamed “Bitch Hill.”
Mind you, I have run Bitch Hill for years. Years! And it still kicks my butt—if I haven’t eaten right, slept enough, made a small blood sacrifice to it appease its malevolent spirit, or if I just start too fast. So I one day (about the third day out), I had had enough. I decided I was not going to stop until I made Bitch Hill MY bitch.
It took a couple weeks. I’d start too fast. It was too steep. I was a wimp. It was pure evil. Whatever the reason, I’d end up having to walk for about 20 yards near the top. Then I’d run…out of oxygen, and have to walk a stretch again. Are the neighbors watching? I’d worry. And maybe (I’m not saying either way) there was some drooling and altogether undignified moments of self-doubt, self-pity, and general whining. Dammit!
Then one day I decided to run along the right side of the road, the upslope side, where I could better distinguish the many plants along the road. There are hundreds to name as I run. I named all of them. Then I started naming them backwards. Anything to keep from thinking about what I was actually doing with my legs and lungs. Before I knew it, I had conquered Bitch Hill.
Now, when I’m driving home and gazing up at my mountain, I can see the most wicked stretch of Bitch Hill high, high above the highway, and I think, I run that. And I can see myself up there in my turquoise hat and sassy running shorts, plodding along, but not stopping. And when I get home and lace up, I see can myself from that highway angle, slowly making my way up the mountain, and I think, I’d better keep going. Those people in their cars, who’ve been sitting for hours, are looking up right now and wondering, Who is that amazing woman? And why am I sitting in my car, zipping past all this nature? Why am I not out in it? Why don’t I run? Look, look how fun it is!
And then I don’t feel so tired. Imagine that.
Next up: Run Like a Banshee.