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"Don't let your happiness depend on something you may lose." ~C. S. Lewis

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PostHeaderIcon The commitment pays off

So there is Friday. A day after I pleasantly surprised myself running my endurance run and enjoying it for the most part. Still not up to par with the way I’d like to be eating. (see upcoming post Sabotage) But. In the busy-ness of Friday and frankly, feeling pretty much awful all day. (see upcoming post The Factor) Really. Awful. And extremely tired. In fact, I cancelled all my afternoon calls as I pretty much was hardly able to put together a coherent thought much less spoken sentence.

All the while, knowing full well I needed to get a run in. Rather, a hill repeat run in. Running in SF is no walk in the park, and the hills are no joke. The neighborhood I’m currently in does have hills but not like I recall in SF. So, I’ve spotted some super duper steep puppies nearby. I could do a warm up run to it and then down and up and repeat a few times. Or, with it continuing to downpour, I could drive.

Works out great, since I have a few errands to do in the stores nearby. As I’m driving back up to park at the bottom of said steep hill, I pass a woman, slightly bigger, who’s walking towards the stores as I drive away. I don’t know particularly why I notice her, I just do. She seems like she’s got good energy about her but other than that, nothing specifically catches my eye.

I easily find a space to park and gear myself up for this run. I mean, this is steep. And, new. Which I’m finding right now seems to really help the training and workouts, throwing a new set or routine or route in seems to keep me a little more engaged. And right now, I’m happy that I’m doing two days in a row like I committed.

Starting out, I immediately stomp my foot into a sloshy wet muddy puddle. Awesome. Wet left foot. Good thing I made a point to put some beat up old running shoes on. With it raining as bad as it has been, some extreme down pours and it still sprinkling, it was a good call.

Ok, this is not easy. Lungs are searing and body is almost rejecting the idea. But I remember the mind gives up before the body does, so I keep going. Wow. This is no joke. It’s steep. The incline is impressive. And my hamstrings are engaging in a way more intense than normal and my calves are already screaming. Fine. I stop about two thirds up, maybe a little further. I’d already made a deal with myself that if I did just one of the three planned sequences, I’d be fine. So stopping on this one ain’t so bad. Plus I have no idea what to expect so it’s a smart move.

I walk from one mailbox to another and start to run again, to the stop sign. Wow, lungs on fire. The downhill should be interesting. I take off and find that just cause it’s downhill doesn’t mean it’s super easy. It’s long, you need some control, and it’s slippery.

But then, something awesome happens. The rain stops. Completely. And even starts to try to clear the sky a bit. Ok, that’s cool. And that’s two days in a row of the weather clearing after I’ve made the decision and taken the action to run. Instead of me waiting for the weather to clear to go, I go and the weather clears. Not bad.

At the near bottom, I pass a guy and his dog, noting the very slow pace they’re enjoying. A part of me is almost envious but I am starting to get into this and am technically already a third done!

Rounding back up the street where I started and taking a short quick walk break, I give myself credit for getting out here. It’s after 6pm, I could’ve easily found an excuse to stay in, stay dry, not run. But. I  know so full well the benefit mentally and spiritually for me to follow through with this, and was curious that I could do it so I did and now I’m here, out here making it happen.

I gear up for the second one and unsurprisingly, it’s actually harder. I don’t make it two thirds up this time, more like half. What? But, shorter walk break and I pick up the running at a steep point to get moving again. Ok. That’s interesting. Sure, part of me is thinking OH now I have no choice but to make the last one the full run up, but ok. But this one, this was tough. Started getting a little light headed so time to reign it in.

Coming up on the dude with the dog, I definitely have to keep it going. Staying with my pace, I hit the stop sign and turn right around, giving him a wave and heading down hill. Enjoying the respite in the rain and the growing control as I sprint downhill. Then I pass at the near bottom the lady I’d seen in my car as I started this little workout. Yes, it’s taking that long – this up hill is pretty long. A solid five plus minutes. May not sound long, but a five plus minute steep hill repeat is a solid workout. My guts are a little tense from the effort (I think) but for the most part, pushing my body in this way is going fairly well.

I do my turnaround in the side street again and mentally prepare myself for my last attempt at the hill. Feeling strong at this point, happy with the effort to get out here, looking forward to being done soon. I take off and really believe this could be the one. This time I see the dog dude on the left side of the street, silently thanking  him for not being an obstacle for me to jump in the main street to go around again. I get to the two thirds mark as I push myself up the hill, and as I’m starting to get a little wiggy again, I see the lady in her khaki shorts slowly making her way up the hills. Ugh, I feel stymied all of a sudden. She’s taken up the whole sidewalk with her gait and I’m not in enough control because of exertion to jump down the high curb and up again at this particular roll of the hill.

Take the sign to walk a bit I tell myself. I was almost there! Ok. I do. I walk fast, my gait still nearly a run. I’m frustrated at myself for the not fighting harder to keep the run going. But I also take the sign as something to pay attention to. For whatever reason, I was not supposed to keep running. Right before I come up on her from behind, I decide to run again. I was just far enough away that I could step down, start to run, and keep the momentum to step up again (you have no idea how steep this hill is until you run it, not just drive it.)

I pass her, run another 200-250 yards, hit the stop sign and turnaround. Feeling good, despite not one of the three attempts a full uninterrupted run. I start to pick up speed and as I’m coming up on her, to pass her and begin smiling as I do, she starts clapping, smiling and yelling “way to go!”

It jars me out of my delirious revelry of muscle confusion, exhausted exertion and mental fatigue. What? How COOL! What a beautiful smile she has, what genuine encouragement, what excited energy she has to share. With me! Wow. And just minutes before, I was “frustrated” with her for seemingly stopping my momentum. And here she is, from her perspective, having seen me coming down from one effort, be passed on this last one and now turned around and passing her as I go down my last hill.

First word that came to mind was “angel.” She was. Just when I needed it, and neither of us knowing I ‘needed’ it, she cheered me on. She was an outside reflection of the real me, supporting this effort no matter how messy or inglorious it was. For that brief few seconds, she was my champion. I nearly choked from gratitude.

And then I had a whole new burst of energy. I fuh-lew down that hill. I actually sprinted and held control too. Careful not to pitch too forward but also not dig my heels in, I let some of the uber control go and just enjoyed the almost little-kid feeling of being one with the hill instead of adversaries. My legs and lungs opened up and I flew. And it felt great.

I ended the whole episode very strong and wasting no time, got right in my car to head home and get warm. Wouldn’t you know, the rain just began to fall again as I walked toward my parked car. As I raced up the hill I just had my fun with, I looked for her everywhere. My hung was swiveling right to left, looking for her. Especially to my right, since that was the side of the street she was on, but also to the streets to the left. I wasn’t too far behind her but I couldn’t see her anywhere. She couldn’t have gotten that far. Really.

Perhaps she really was an angel. Perhaps she was a figment of my imagination, even from the moment I first saw her, something I drew in to cheer me on at the exact moment she did. I don’t know. It sounds weird, but I’ll take it, I’ll take the light energy she shared, wherever she came from.

Two days in a row. I’m on a roll? Well, perhaps. All I know is the commitment I made to myself is a conscious one and I’m grateful for following through again today. Hill repeats and all.

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