52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 2: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love hills (kind of)

A side effect of becoming a “runner” (I use the term loosely) is that I now apparently have the ability to stop traffic. It’s every girl’s dream, yes? This skill was on display during last weekend’s South Shore YMCA Frozen 5K (the second of my 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge) as I ran solo – hair blazing, face subtly aglow – through a forbidding intersection and coolly waved to a handful of Quincy police officers who were standing around looking bored. “Don’t mind me, guys. This kind of thing happens all the time.”

OK, it may not have gone down quite like that.

I did run through a forbidding intersection, but my hair was plastered to my neck and my face was its usual shade of bright crimson. (I could tell.) At this point, the Speedy McSpeedersons had finished or were close to it, and the rest of the runners – who had clearly become lost – were behind me. So I was briefly, and disconcertingly, solo. I did wave to the fine officers of the Quincy PD as they used their mad skills to hold back the throbbing traffic, but it probably looked less like a nonchalant thank you than a deranged “Holy crap!”

Quincy YMCA Frozen 5K

Running like the wind (but slowly enough that I can take my phone out of my shorts and snap a photo). So, really, running like the breeze.

Despite the pain suggested by my facial hue, things were pretty good. I had just come off an amazing downhill stretch that gave me a burst of energy, and I was feeling free and almost speedy. Even my lungs were playing along. Maybe I was born to run after all!

This sensation lasted for about a minute and a half …

It had its ups and downs

It was another gorgeous day for a 5K. And I was thrilled to be contributing to my YMCA and its Annual Support Campaign. Hopefully this is the first of many such runs for them.

But, as it is with so many of these courses, what comes down must have gone up – and given me The Fear. To get to the point where I was feeling free and almost speedy, and stopping traffic with my very presence, I had to vanquish two hills.

The first I managed to run. That’s right, run. It was a long, slowish incline, but an incline nonetheless. Did I mention I ran it? This has never happened before. Needless to say I felt chuffed, and added this feat to my (very short) list of running firsts. I can only assume my First Hill trophy is in the mail.

The second, an incline of epic proportions, I did not manage to run. I did, however, adjust my form – from shuffling jogger to what I can only describe as “wheezy soldier” – and marched up that dang hill as if my life depended on it. I even overtook a couple of folks. When I crested the top, my face on fire and my puffer crying out for mercy, I wondered where the fireworks were.

Wheeeeeeeeeee!

Which brings us back to the delicious descent that helped me feel so (briefly) speedy. Momentously, I had to stop for a couple of seconds at the bottom because I was going too fast, and was perilously close to falling down. But I stayed upright and posted a significantly improved personal record. In a shocking twist, I even felt as though I could go a little farther.

Hills, I think perhaps I have been too hard on you.

Postscript: Doing time

Quincy YMCA Frozen 5K

Hi Dad, I’m in jail!

We were all handed timing gadgets that were to be worn around our ankles. This was a first for me.

I’m sure they are common at races, and must be cheaper than bib chips because they can be re-used. But is it just me, or do these doohickeys make it look as though 260 ne’er-do-wells under surveillance by the authorities have just come out for their morning run? Just saying.

In most cases, these prison ankle bracelets timing devices were issued in basic black. Except for mine, which was a feisty combination of orange and blue. You’d think the race organizers might have spared a thought for my color scheme.

Two runs down, 50 to go. It’s a long, perilous road ahead.

The event: South Shore YMCA Frozen 5K
The location: Quincy, MA
The date: January 8, 2012
My time: 32:02
Hubby’s time:
It was a National Guard weekend, so no racing for Hubby
The cause:
YMCA’s Annual Support Campaign
The T-shirt:
White long-sleeved shirt
The aftermath: Bananas, oranges, bagels, assorted waters

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23 responses to “52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 2: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love hills (kind of)

  1. I have noticed the same effect…… although.. usually, someone asks “Are you OK”? 🙂

  2. So sad we missed you! If you run by my street again, do let me know and I’ll come out and cheer like mad!

    • I should have looked at the course more closely! Although I’m so useless with directions that I probably wouldn’t have put two and two together anyway. But yes, next time. I expect balloons and a giant banner. And maybe a band! 🙂

  3. No beer??!! 🙂

    • I know! It’s a bit shocking. I guess it’s not really in keeping with the YMCA’s ideals. 🙂 I meant to mention how it was so much harder for me to get out of bed knowing there would be no beer, then realized I had rambled on for far too long. Fingers crossed for next week!

  4. You crack me up. Just got back from my jog and inspired to confront the largish hill on my route. Next time.
    My shoes however, are not as subtle as yours! 🙂

    • Excellent! You’ll have to report back! I have a feeling my hilly romance will be fleeting. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I am convinced this all occurred in some alternate universe.

      You don’t think my skull laces are subtle? OK, picture of your shoes please!

  5. I’ve never seen those timing devices……weird!

    Let me know if you’re ever in Charleston SC this year, there are plenty of races down here!

    • I know, aren’t they bizarre?

      Will do re Charleston! I have only put a toe in SC and have always wanted to get back down there. Such a gorgeous place. 🙂

  6. Those are strange ankle jewelry. You managed to take the struggle and pain of running and turned it into a funny post – great job

  7. Convicts and indicted rappers prefer the term “ankle bling.” Pretty sure I read that in Rolling Stone.

  8. Props to you for running a hill! I loathe hills. I actually live at the top of a mountainous hill my town is built into the side of, and I look pathetic trying to walk up it at the end of my runs.

    • Thanks!! I’m sure I looked like a deranged person on my march up that second hill. If I can run a hill this weekend coming, I’ll know it wasn’t a fluke. I have a feeling it was a fluke. 🙂

  9. I have a love/hate relationship with hills. When I train on them and am in shape, I get the same “high” when I conquer a hilly run. When I have been indulging in exclusively flat runs, I hate hills.

    Love the stats at the end of your post!

    • I try to indulge in exclusively flat runs whenever I can. I love it when a race is described by organizers as “challenging.” That word puts the immediate fear into me as of course it means hills. I think I ranted in an earlier post that I wish just once it meant something else. Like hot coals, or a field of sheep …

      I have meant since my very first post to include pictures of the T-shirts with those stats. But I can’t seem to get around to taking pictures of them, and now I am drowning in a sea of polyester. One of these days.

  10. Have been following your races with great interest. Is this the same daughter that failed cross country all those years ago.
    Way to go.
    You have quite a following.
    Luv Mum

    • Ha. Yes, the very same daughter! I’m still not convinced this isn’t some alternate universe.

      Nothing like getting a comment from your mum on the blog to make you feel like you’ve made it!! Thanks Mum. xxxxoo

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