Runners hate hills, and love them. Hills build strengths and speed, and they make our quads shake and the air ache in our lungs. For me, hills are about patience. Can I wait this out? Can I let my body do its work and just let go? For me the answer is often a resounding “fuck, no”.
Last weekend I ran a hilly race. I’ve done it before so I knew what was coming. I knew to be patient and save my strength. Not that it helped. Late in the race I was gasping and hobbling up hills like an aging Don Draper chasing the new secretary. Only less motivated.
Luckily I met a snapping turtle to break up the torture I mean excitement. Snapping turtles always (yes, I’ve met more than one on trail runs) look at people as if to say “We outlasted the dinosaurs and we will outlast you noisy assholes”. The race I ran was a long loop so after I passed this guy the first time I was a little worried I wouldn’t see him the second time around. The “tortoise and the hare” comparisons write themselves…
The race ended and my time was better than I expected, though not extraordinary. But later I thought about the turtle and the hills and being patient while in motion and not being distracted too much by the furious motion of the world around us. Maybe there’s a lesson in there.