I only started running again for the first time in 10 years, a few months back. The last time I did any running was the year I lived in Boise, which is FLAT. I now live in Phoenix, FLAT! I literally have not run on a hill of ANY size, up or down, since 1995. Well, today that all changed.
I am in Austin Texas for work, and went out for a 5:30 am run this morning with two of my workmates. To protect their identity, I will call them Nick and Kristen, now I just call them Bastards! I know they walk around the office and play all nice to people. I know they have gotten every single person they know snowed to think they are friendly caring people. It is all a ruse. I think it has been a plan hatched out of a lifetime of pretending to be nice to everyone they have ever met, with just one goal in mind, to kill me in the hills of Austin Texas.
We went to the front desk of the hotel this morning to get some input on where to run. The gentleman at the front desk was very helpful (Bastard), and pulled out a local map and gave us a few options. One of those options was to turn out of the parking lot and go left, to a relatively flat course around this spectacular countryside. The other option was to go out of the parking lot and take a right, through the depths of Hell.
I made a friendly comment about it having been about 14 years since I have run on a hill. That is when these two reportedly “very nice” people I work with headed out of the parking lot... and took a right.
It started off o.k., uphill. I then made another joke (not really a joke people, you are supposed to be able to catch on to that…) that running this little hill might kill me.
It was the shortest, easiest slope, and best lit, of the next six (I had no idea) hills. As we got to the top of the hill and took a right, it was so dark that I could not see the ground in front of me. And since I never run in the dark, I have never taken the time to learn how to use the light on my Garmin. We started down a slope that was getting steeper, and longer, with every step. We finally reached what I thought was the bottom, only to have a car pass us going the same direction as us and watch it's headlights disappear over the next downward hill in front of us.
Now you might be saying, “Adam, why in the hell are you griping? Running down hill is not that bad." People, the only thing going through my frantic little mind at this point is “Are you fu%&*n kidding me? We have to run UP this hill on the way back. What the hell am I doing? What did I ever do to the two of you to make you do such a horrible dastardly thing to me? I thought we were friends.”
As we started to get close to what I thought was the bottom of the hill, things started to smell. Now granted, I was SO worried about the return trip back up this hill, that I wasn't sure that the smell wasn't coming from me... Then Kristen exclaimed, "Adam!" I looked down just in time to jump to the right as I was about to take a trip over a dead skunk. Nice... At least it wasn't me :)
We were approaching the bridge that I assumed was our destination. So as I finally figured out the damn light on my watch, I checked our distance and time. Now in hindsight, I should have just lied my a$$ off. "We are at 1.4 miles guys". Maybe they just didn't hear me. Maybe they thought that all the heavy breathing they were hearing from behind them was a joke. Maybe they wanted to watch me die...
Nick (bastard): "Awesome. Why don't we run up to the road at the top of the hill and turn around there?"...
If you have ever been in the military or in a marching band, you know what a half step is. It's where you take a half step, or maybe a few half steps in a row, to help you get back in line with everyone else who is marching in unison. Well, when Nick said that ("Awesome. Why don't we run up to the road at the top of the hill and turn around there?"...), I took a half step. Not because I was trying to get back in step with Kristen and Nick, but because for half a second, or half of a step, I almost quit.
Then I remembered, literally in the time of that half step, that I had already made a public declaration that I will not EVER let myself stop in the middle of a run. In that same half of a step I also remembered that we do not have a car back at the hotel. So, no matter what, I am going back on my own power. I cannot do what I want, which is to lay down on the grass and cry until they come back and get me.
When we hit the beginning of the last hill that would take us up to the main road, and our turn around point, they both took off up the hill leaving me behind. This is when I changed my strategy from trying to keep up, to hoping like hell I would be able to finish.
One goal. Don't stop.
We started up, and Nick was already 20 or 30 yards ahead of me. I kept going, and tried not to think about the people I used to call friends. Maybe we are just workmates. Maybe they really do resent the loud guy that has an office between them. This might be their way of paying me back for all the times they had to plug one ear while having a phone in the other. Maybe this is their "paybacks are a bitch."
About the time that Nick reached the top of the hill and Kristen was about to leave me in her dust, I started to pay attention to the sound of my breathing. It was so loud in my own ears, and my own head, that I started thinking about how distracting it must have been for their run. It was right about then that Kristen turned around to check on me. It was immediately obvious that she had finally pulled far away enough that she could no longer hear my breathing, and was checking to make sure I was o.k.
They were not going to leave me to die.
Nick reached the turnaround and started running back down the hill toward us. He passed Kristen and started to slow down as he approached me. When we were about to cross paths, he turned a 180, and started back up the hill. Maybe they really are my friends. Maybe they aren't going to leave me. And we ran up the rest of the hill together side by side.
After a few minutes rest at the top, we ran back to the hotel together. They left me behind at the bottom of each hill, but made sure I didn't run the last 20 yards up alone. As we came to the end of the run at the hotel, I turned left to go back to my room. We are still friends. They kept on running, past the hotel, leaving me to return to my room.
That was the last morning I was invited to go running. (not really, that is just my excuse, until I get a few more hills under my belt).
Thanks to my friends for not leaving me behind. Thanks for giving me just enough, to make sure I finished. Thanks for getting me beyond flat. Never Quit.