Up a Hill, Down a Hill: and Cheryl Strayed

Tonight I ran my fastest mile, at 11:55!

I’m not yet advanced to overhauling my diet to all healthy/fitness-based meals or doing strength training. It sounds great, but for now I’m just concentrating on running and building up endurance.

But I have been switching up my routes and running on different surfaces: trails, sidewalks, grass, asphalt. Tonight I drove to a totally different location and started out with a big hill, crossing over to the other side when I ran down it. I then ran across a bridge, a little farther, and then back up the hill.

When I hit one mile at the top of the hill the second time, I stopped my run.

I felt like a gladiator! And then a friend called, and I was happy to report what I was doing.

I just felt healthy and happy and great.

The best thing? This morning when I woke up, I was able to button a pair of pants that a month ago I had no hope of wearing. I was so annoyed I almost gave them away. I’m so glad I kept them and didn’t give up on myself. When I wore them today they were a comfortable fit!

FEELING the results is the best part about making these lifestyle changes. I’m eating better, a bit at a time.

Tonight is the big Strawberry Moon. I didn’t see anything pink about it, but I was happy to see it there regardless.

I’ve been reading “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail,” by Cheryl Strayed.

It’s been months since I was this engrossed in novel. Actually, this is a memoir.

Reading about how weak she was starting out– how she did everything wrong, over-packed, and somehow hiked an insane mileage in boots a size too small that gave her myriad blisters and caused her to lose toenails.

How she was reeling from the death of her mother by cancer– at only 45; the dissolution of her family, following; a divorce she never wanted from a husband she still loved. And she worked out her grief one step at a time.  She outlasted several other, more experienced hikers, (mostly men) who gave up because of record snowfall. She had to re-route her hike several times and hitch a few times after deviating from the trail to get around the snow.

Her constant ambivalence about her her ability to complete her hike. The many chances she could have taken to quit– all legitimate.

Every time I run, I doubt myself. Can I really do this? Can I make my goal? How hard can I push this time?

But reading about Strayed centers me.

Because she continued. I’m on page 206 and I will be sad to finish it.

How her mantra was “I’m not afraid,” and “Who’s tougher than me?”

I find myself underlining and circling words and writing notes– just like I conversate with all my favorite books.

A passage I particularly like, from page 69:

“The thing about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail , the thing that was so profound to me that summer- and yet also, like most things, so very simple-was how few choices I had and how often I had to do the thing I least wanted to do. How there was no escape or denial. No numbing it down with a martini or covering it up with a roll in the hay. …. I could go back in the direction I had come from, or I could go forward in the direction I intended to go. The bull, I acknowledged grimly, could be in either direction, since I had seen where he’d run once I closed my eyes. I could only choose between the bull that that would take me back and the bull that would take me forward.

And so I walked on.”

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