It doesn’t matter where I run from my house, I have to finish my run with a long hill. This is good for me, of course. In the spirit of “getting in shape” and “training for a 10K” (both of which I am, ostensibly, doing), having to push myself up a big hill after I’ve already been running for 30 minutes (I just started training for the 10K – later, this hill will come after 50 minutes of running) is good for me. Good for my muscles and endurance and mental toughness.
It’s also bullshit and I hate it.
Well, I don’t hate it before the run. And I guess I always feel pretty good after I do the stupid hill, but while I’m running it? Yeah, I hate the damned thing.
I still do it, though. I leave my house on a regular basis just so I can hurl my body up that hill half an hour later.
I have lots of running friends, runners even, who push themselves to run half marathons, marathons, and ultra-marathons (Uber-marathons? Ultimate marathons?). I know people who do triathlons and ironman triathlons. I have a lot of respect for these people, and a part of me hopes to feel capable of running that far someday (currently, a larger part of me screams hell no). Most of them listen to music or books on their long runs, but I have this paranoia, one of many: I’m afraid that, in becoming engrossed in my music or a book or whatever, I will not hear a car about to hit me, or a dog coming to attack my dog, or an explosion behind me that would otherwise cause me to take cover.
So I don’t listen to music. Instead, I have long conversations with myself. I compose blog posts that don’t get written. Or they do, but in my head they sound a lot better. I also daydream myself into crazy confrontational situations where I have to stand up for someone’s rights and I make amazing, impassioned speeches in a public forum that have people reeling from impact. In my head, I am that cool.
Or, I obsess about ways in which life could go wrong. Lately, it’s skin cancer that has me all riled up. I apply sunscreen three times a day. I don’t even wear moisturizer on my face, I go directly to SPF 50 and slather it on my whole body first thing in the morning. My kids are constantly coated. I know two women who, in their TWENTIES, developed skin cancer. That’s scary. And I’m totally at risk. But I probably shouldn’t fixate on it the way I do.
I don’t carry anything with me when I run (save the dog leash because, yeah, I make the dog go with me), so I sometimes think about how, if I twisted and ankle or had a heart attack running up the freaking mountain to get home, I would have to rely on the kindness of strangers to transport me to the hospital. Though it’s unlikely that I would be offered a ride in a stranger’s car due to the presence of my big, mean dog. I’d probably end up doing just like I do with that God-forsaken hill and gutting it out until I got home.
The really great part of this is, when I get home, safe and sound, no heart attacks, no knees blown out, no gunfights, having saved the world in my head (today I gave a great speech to nobody about why our children will be puzzled that there ever was a national fight over marriage equality and will wonder why some people see “gay rights” as anything separate from “human rights”), I get to reward myself with a glass of wine and some chocolate (after stretching). Which I probably would have consumed anyhow, but this way I feel as though I earned it. After all, I made it up that hill.