I walk home from the library feeling confident and reassured, I can do anything. I convince myself that this includes some hill repeats. I arrive home and change into my running clothes before I change my mind. Before I know it I am running towards my hill. I had originally planned on only doing three, but I feel good and five seems like a better goal.
I turn the corner to start running up my hill. I begin to employ my strategy to keep up my quickened pace. I choose an item about fifteen feet in front of me to focus on. Choosing a new one each time I reach the previous one. Fire hydrant, that patch of grass, the end of that square of sidewalk, leap over some overgrown weeds to avoid a couple walking down the narrow sidewalk, mini tree, driveway. That’s one.
I turn around and run slowly down the hill, regulating my breathing. I can do this. I can do anything. I remember the hundreds of hills I have ran over the course of my running career. I wonder how many times I have run this hill, maybe hundreds of times? Maybe.
I turn around again and start up the hill. Fire hydrant, patch of grass, patch of concrete, railing, mini tree, fire hydrant, driveway. Keep the pace up until the top of the hill. That’s two.
I run slowly back down the hill. My mind wanders to thoughts of my upcoming exam. Though I’ve never failed an exam in my life and I feel prepared, I’ve never taken a test like this one before.
I stall for a second at the bottom of the hill and then take off running before my mind is ready. Fire hydrant, patch of grass, patch of concrete…you’re slowing down. My breathing gets heavier, mini tree. Only two more…I pick up my pace momentarily to avoid being hit by a car backing out of the driveway. That’s three. Three, three, three. Only two more.
I run even slower down the hill. I begin to think about the really important things in life, like what I should have for lunch, if the maintenance technician is ever going to come fix the tub, and what movie I should watch this weekend.
I turn and run up the hill again. My breathing is getting more labored. I slow down. I forget to focus on the fire hydrant, the grass, the concrete, the tree, the driveway. A car drives slowly by, the man driving looks at me. Is he checking out my legs or contemplating calling an ambulance. I keep running. I slowly reach the top of the hill. Four, four, four. One more?
I run slowly down the hill. I decide that I can do six of these, maybe even seven, no six is good for today. I feel good about the compromise I have made with myself.
I turn again and run up the hill. I focus better this time. I remind myself that I am strong, I know how to run hills. Fire hydrant, grass, concrete, tree, driveway. Five! One more.
I run slowly down. I feel accomplished and proud that I decided to do just one more.
I turn and run with a spring in my step, reminding myself to stay focused. Fire hydrant, grass, concrete, you’ve got this, tree, keep it up, driveway, push it to the top of the hill, that’s six and you’re done.
I turn the corner to finish this run on the same route that I finish all of my runs. As my breathing steadies my legs pick up the pace. I keep running and I feel alive. I run past some women carrying boxes to place in a U-Haul. They look at me as if I am very strange. I keep running. I turn the corner and pick up my pace a little more as I run down hill. I keep my eye out for the man who stands on his porch and stares into space and sometimes plays random notes on a banjo, I don’t see him today. I round my last corner and pick up my pace just a little more, then as I approach my church I sprint past my invisible finish line and startle the people waiting at the bus stop. I jog slowly the rest of the way to my apartment. I feel sweaty, tired, breathless, and at the same time confident, empowered, and strong; because today I conquered the hill.