I was driving back from dropping some letters off to a friend this morning and as I drove down the hill, I could see the Coast Mountains stretching before me. There are some days when the light is right and the sun is in particular place and then those mountains just shine. Today was one of those days.
I could almost see every tree of the forests that blanket the mountains. I had three thoughts: One, the mountains are beautiful and I am so very lucky to live here. Secondly, those mountains are huge and some of the trails on them must be awesome. Lastly, I suck at hills.
I don't mean a little. I am lousy at hills. Spectacularly crap! As soon as I manage 5 mins on anything looking like a gradient, my calves cramp and my legs give out. I then have to power-hike the rest of the mountain in a huddled "Hunchback of Notre-Dame" impression. Because of that, I always avoid hills. They are painful and contrary to my "run and have fun" ideology. I know though, that the trails on the mountains are some of the best and I would have a blast IF I could go through the pain of getting to them. Bit of a pickle really.
My Facebook Brother, Jesse, mentioned in a blog (and everyone quotes Jesse, so he must know what he is talking about), that sometimes you have to run through the pain to be able to enjoy the runs that come after. It then hit me. I made a decision. I WILL embrace hills. As soon as I am up and running (literally), I will embrace those hills. I will remember how I felt when I couldn't run and I saw those hills. I will remember the eagerness to see the trails beyond 600ft and I will push through those leg cramps.
Even though I know trail running will probably be out for me months after I return to running, I will still embrace those road runs up the mountains because I know that at some point, it will mean eventually, in time, I will be strong enough to run trails up the mountains.
I missed most of the mountain trail running season because of my knee. I knew then as I placed towards the back, that hills were my weakness. Well I have 10 months before the 2012 trail season starst. If I learn to embrace those hills I may find that the uphill runs are just as fun as the downhills. I will be remember all of this as I am mumbling "Why the F&^(#$ am I here?"
This also leads me to something else I need to embrace. Something a little more immediate; a little more.. well lets face it humiliating. Pool Running and Swimming.
Honestly, who thought up Pool Running as a sport? You don a very fetching blue float that you strap to your waist SO tightly, you get muffin-top definitions below AND above the belt. You then proceed to move at 0.0000005 miles per hour down the leisure lane of the pool being overtaken by the overweight, asthmatic kid in water-wings. All the while you try to look as if this is the most natural thing in the world. I always joke that my running form is similar to a duck - that wasn't an incentive for the universe to introduce water to the equation.
As for swimming? Well that wouldn't be humiliating if you were anyone other than me. I only learnt to swim about 18 months ago and my technique is similar to a fish with too much gas; floundering and all over the place. No, there there are no little bubbles floating to the top... the fish and gas was just an analogy - HONEST! Let's forget that the only swimsuit I own is 6 years old, poo-coloured, saggy and two sizes to big. My friend had to take emergency action this morning and she dragged me to the swimsuit store of the mall and insisted I buy another one. Supposedly swimsuits are meant to tight-fitting and not SO baggy they can actually collect water like those cloth buckets you have for hiking. Huh, who knew?
I have also found it's impossible to be able to do any of the above activities laughing. Pool running, or more correctly "deep aquafit" produces a look ... well, I can only describe it as a cross between giving birth and having a big poo. My tongue even pops out of my mouth in that "I am 6 and trying to tie my shoe-laces" kind of way. When it comes to swimming, laughing is just too dangerous. For example, two days ago I was swimming and my (now redundant) poo-coloured, saggy swimsuit gave me a wedgie. A big, butt-creasing, show a whole bum-cheek wedgie. Normal people would be horrified, however, I have never been called normal - okay, maybe once, but the guy was drunk - and I started laughing. Mid-stroke, in the fast lane (we have very slow swimmers in my area), is not a place to have the giggles. I eventually came up to the surface, spluttering, with a concerned life-guard ready to dive in. Swimming Smiley is hazardous to your health. Where is the fun in that?!
However, I will embrace the pool running and the swimming. Pool running and swimming are just temporary conduits to the NYC Barefoot run in September. The are a pre-cursor to the mountain runs I have planned. The are just an adjunct to embracing those hills.
So I WILL EMBRACE, I WILL EMBRACE ... do you think if I say it often enough I may actually make it happen? Umm.. watch this space.