i've never been one to seek out a hill.
let me explain: as a runner, i've never been one to seek out a hilly course. in fact, i've done the exact opposite. i've sought out nice, flat runs. i've even looked for ones that allowed me to run downhill most of the time. when training for my last half marathon, i ran all the way to wall st and took the subway home instead of running halfway and then turning home...because i knew i'd be running up hill. i've run the philly half marathon three times and all three times walked up the horrendous hill at mile 9.
i don't like running hills.
but during today's run, i noticed myself turn off my usual path and run up a small hill. then i did it again. and then again.
and i remembered that i did the same thing on a run last week.
i'm in my second week of training for the NYC Half and already my training is very different than it has been the last few years. for one, the hills. second, i'm running more and cross training twice a week. also, i haven't been running intervals.
i love running intervals. intervals have saved me my last few half marathons when i wasn't in the best shape after subpar training. it also feels nicer on my body, on my lungs. i had sort of convinced myself that i needed to run intervals now in order to run longer distances and so when running any distance, i found myself interval-ing it up. but last week when starting my training, i noticed i wasn't as tired after four minutes so i didn't stop. and then i didn't stop to walk a little at a mile. and then i didn't stop at 15min and so on. maybe it is because in the last few months i've become a spin lover and voluntarily took classes that were 1.5 hours sometimes...but my endurance is better than it has been in years.
i watch these changes seemingly from afar. like there is someone else in control of my legs and lungs and i am just trying to keep up. i am scared to get used to them because you never know...but i am trying to enjoy these changes too.
since running hills voluntarily this morning, i've been thinking about how i do and don't seek out the hills in everyday life. how i do and don't seek out the more challenging path. how i do or don't say yes to the thing i may fail at. how i do or don't want to take a chance, learn more about myself, try something new, get stronger...
there are some things that feel like hills to other people that to me feel like flat runs. i've had friends note how calm i am about certain stresses and i always say that i am used to it. to me it doesn't feel like a big thing anymore, but to them it is. and there are some things that feel like hills to me that to other people feel like flat runs. walking in heels, for instance. or dating. or going to the dentist. or running marathons. struggles for me. easy-peasy for others.
and there are the things that fall into the gray territory of hills and flatness...that sometimes feel like hills and sometimes feel like smooth sailing...like how i told my ex nearly two months ago that i didn't want to speak to him for a while...which could mean months or years. i don't know. usually letting go of exes is fairly easy for me (that probably means something), but this ex has always been different. he was a lover and a friend. my best friend. the person who probably knows me best except for my mom. and pulling away from him, from our friendship, in honor of trying to forgive him, to find my footing, to nurture other friendships, and to rediscover who i am without him in my everyday or even my "once every few weeks" life feels like one of the biggest hills imaginable, one that i think about quitting every day, but forge ahead nonetheless because i know the view at the top will be amazing. note: i don't know what the view at the top is of...hopefully a beach someplace warm...and not like a landfill...but only time will tell.
hills and flat runs.
maybe my training is different this time around because i am changing. maybe its different because i have a goal of 26.2mi (26.2mi that are known to be hilly) in November and i know i have to be in the best shape ever if i am going to complete it. maybe it is because two dear friends have already supported my fundraiser and now there are people i can't let down.
maybe it is because when i feel emotionally weak, i always have the urge to get physically strong...as if to hold myself up.
i can tell you i still loathe the idea of getting out of bed for the run. i can tell you i question my choices at the beginning of every run. i can tell you i did something to my hamstrings today when i got home from my run and they hurt and now i am scared my magical training moment is doomed.
i can tell you that my insomnia is back in full force and i spend much of it thinking of challenges i wish i hadn't chosen, challenges forced upon me, challenges i'd rather ignore.
i can also tell you that both runs--the hilly ones and the flat ones--have their moments.
but, man, how much stronger we get when we don't avoid the hills...