I have finished my last hill workout for the week. The countdown to race day is almost all counted down!
I left the gym at a nice trotting speed, warming up as quickly as my tin- man joints would unhinge. A lot of sun, a little breeze, and the weightlessness of the first few minutes of a run is a feeling I’ll never tire of.
About a kilometer from work there is a notorious hill known to runners, cyclists, and any drivers who have attempted it in the Canadian winters or in standard cars. I headed in its direction to see if it it had lessened with environmental wear and tear, a change in gravitational pull, or even continental drift, perhaps.
Spoiler alert: it didn’t.
When I reached the base of the hill, there was a man running ahead of me and I thought to myself how tired he looked and how much he must be dreading this ascent. I was feeling (moderately) fresh as a daisy so I casually waited at the bottom until he had neared the top before I began. I didn’t want to pass him and make him feel bad, of course.
Well, guess who felt bad when he turned at the top and came back down to run more hill repeats; completely the same workout as me.
But with an Ironman t-shirt and Ironman tattoo. Not sure I placed my pity appropriately.
I ran my first uphill and as we passed each other halfway we did the customary acknowledgement of each other’s presence on Earth with a half- second of eye contact and the accompanying head nod. Quite generous for Torontonians who customarily put their weight into smashing shoulders on sidewalks, but we are runners after all.
As I cruise back down in my recovery period, I pretend to be super casual and not wheezing like a dying hyena as we pass and he knocks out another hill repeat. We upgraded to the smile and nod this round, appreciating our common “enjoyment” of running up hills. I notice that he looks much less tired up close and I doubted my own sweaty, tomato-red face was giving the same impression.
Two rounds later, I’m trying to get myself back to the top again and I hear a “Looking strong!” and I look up to see that my running companion has now become my cheerleader. That little ego boost definitely gave me a push to the top of the hill and as we both switched directions again, I made sure to clap and cheer as much as my breathlessness would allow.
As we alternated turns running, it turned into a cheer- fest and definitely an experience in the reliable friendliness of the running community. Halfway up his last hill, my new friend stopped to let me know this was his last one and he ran off into the sunset.
Well, it was 1pm. But you get the idea.
It’s like the Universe is cheering me on, now. On to race day!