Let me preface this post with a little anecdote ...
The average person probably does not realize this, but there is a slight incline in elevation from my house on North Broad Street all the way to Tourtellotte. The average runner probably doesn't realize this either, because the average runner is in much better shape than I am. To them, a hill is Main Street. A hill is Madison Avenue.
I didn't realize, when I first started running, why it seemed so much more difficult to run north along that stretch than it was coming back the other way on Fourth or Fifth. I'd round that corner, and in a minute or so, I'd feel like I was flying. Of course, never too quick on the uptake of these things, I realized a couple of runs later that, coming back, I was running slightly down hill, which is why it felt so much easier. Reminds of me of something a friend told me once that has made me laugh every time I think of it: "I thought I experienced Runner's High once. Turns out, I was just running down hill." Funny, but straight-up for reals, y'all. A down-hill run is like being picked up by an angel and carried. It's positively marvelous.
If my struggle with the slightest of inclines on Broad didn't drive home this point, allow me to make this clear: I am a flat-terrain runner. When I see a hill, I run the other way. I even avoid running up to Fifth from my house because there's a hill in the way of getting there. And on the rare occasion I do tackle one, I run so very slowly on the way up that, at any given moment, gravity might actually make me teeter backward.
This brings us to yesterday's phone call ...
It was like deja-vu when I listened to my messages. Last year, about this time, I was in the middle of my public "Fight to be Fit" weight-loss battle, about 40 pounds lost. And Karen Christy of VINE Faith in Action called to see if I would run the 10Kato to help raise awareness for the event. Christy remembers exactly what I said, and so do I: "I'm not a runner. I can't run. There's just no way." I did, however, sign up to walk the two-mile portion of the event on what turned out to be an extremely humid Memorial Day morning.
So yesterday, when I spoke with Christy, and she reminded me of that call, I had one of those moments when I thought, "Wow, I'm totally a runner now. A year later. How cool!" And after a Google search helping my math-deficient brain realize that 10Ks = 6.2 miles, I realized that I really am not far from that goal. I'm at about 4 1/2 miles right now, and with two months left to train, I could probably hit 6.2 miles by Memorial Day.
So I said I would definitely sign up for the 10Kato, and I thanked her for thinking of me. ... And then, as I was about to hang up the phone, I had an afterthought. "Hey, Karen, there aren't any major hills involved in the 10Kato, are there?"
"Just Glenwood," she said.
Just Glenwood, she says. Just Glenwood. Just two miles of a windy, steady, steep, uphill climb.
Panic. Terror. Disbelief. Regreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.
Let me put this into perspective ... my former colleague, Alex Voigt, who is about 150 pounds of pure muscle, ran the 10Kato last year with about a 40-minute finish time. He came in 10th. (How in the world can someone maintain a 7-minute mile pace up a friggin' hill?)
Me, on the other hand, well, I ran 4.3 miles this morning, and you know how long it took me? 55 minutes. Two miles less than Alex, and 15 minutes longer. Add a two-mile hill IN ADDITION to this morning's flat-terrain run, and you would have found me somewhere in the middle of the incline, passed out, cramped up, dehydrated, making gurgling sounds.
So let me just state this right off the bat: I will be walking up Glenwood. That's just plain fact right there. I probably could walk it faster than I could run it, anyway. And then I will run the rest of the race. It's important to know one's limitations, and mine begin at the base of that hill.
So if you're signed up to run in one of the longest-standing and popular races in our area -- the challenging 10Kato -- I look forward to seeing you run right on past me. And mom, I'd appreciate it if you could maybe just follow me along in your car to scoop me up if I actually do start teetering back down Glenwood Avenue.