Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Running Up the Hills

Cooper's friend, Annika, came over to play. Annika loved to show us her karate moves, and anytime I broke out the camera she would pose.

For the last six months, I've tried to run with a running group a couple of times a week. (Unfortunately, it's been difficult to meet lately with the weather, Chris's many overnight shifts, and busy kids' schedules.) What I love about the group is that all the women have a continual desire to run faster, better, and stronger.

I heard the group started out running leisurely five mile runs. They became bored, and started to increase the challenge, incorporating pace, tempo, and interval runs into their workouts. The latest challenge has come in the form of hill interval runs. My running friend, Maggie, said, "You're going to love it." I had my doubts, not finding the words "hill" or "interval" to sound particularly enjoyable.

So, this morning I did my first hill interval run. Five of us 30-somethings moms and one priest (invited by one of the moms) met on the trail at 6 a.m. We started our run at a modest pace following our familiar running trail. Suddenly, Maggie directed us off the trail to a portion of the path I've never noticed. Thinking I knew every last nook and cranny in Zionsville, I was stunned that this existed. It was rolling, that I knew for sure. But even in a shroud of darkness, I could tell it was beautiful and flanked by vegetation just bursting to bloom.

We jogged to the end of the path, and then the portion of the run I had been dreading began: we ran back, and up. We ran at a modest pace to the base of the hill, and then surged to the top. Maggie and Father Joshua stormed the hill as if it were nothing. I panted and wheezed, and felt gravity fighting me every step of the way. The whole time, my inner voice was shouting, "Don't stop. Faster. Faster. Keep Going." Finally, I made it to the top of the hill, grateful a priest was standing inches away in case I needed him to administer my last rites. "Just six more times to go," I thought!

As I jogged down the hill, and my breathing resumed to normal, I realized how I really could stop at any time. I wasn't forced to participate in this crazed workout. I could have easily been sleeping peacefully in my bed, not giving a second thought to this group of running zealots. But something inside me wouldn't let me quit, so I kept running.

When the six surges were complete, the group jogged back to the parking lot. Maggie turned to me, glistening with sweat, and asked, "Did you love it?" I answered in all honesty, "No, but I know it's good for me and I know it will make me a better runner."

I know I've been getting a little deep lately, but I couldn't help think about how those hills are like what I've been experiencing lately as a parent. I'm definitely feeling like I'm in the valley, running up hill after hill. It would be so much easier to stop, but something inside me keeps screaming, "Don't stop. Keep going." As difficult as it may be, it's good for me, and it will make me better. So I surge on, looking towards the top.

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