First Hill Training: Winded and Windy!

A four week hill training workshop is hosted this month by a local running store to prep us for a race coming up April 29– with monster hills! I had missed last week.

I was STOKED for my first run in a t-shirt and shorts, too. It was gorgeous, around 65.

For the first time I pulled up to Four Seasons Park in Shorewood, Illinois. I’ve run often nearby, as it’s been my neighborhood twice. But I’d never ventured that far up Seil Rd. I was happy to find the place teeming with people and sports in progress. I drove around and spied a large group of adults in neon colors, who seemed in running attire. That was my crew. But by the time I parked a little bit farther up, they had all turned and began running toward the street!

So I broke out into a full run, trying desperately to catch up. I recognized two ladies from my training class near the back.  I had to stop and breathe several times. “WAIT!” I called to my two classmates. They turned and saw me. They slowed down and I was able to get nearer, at least.

I thought we were here to run hills, not go on a run?! Apparently it was a warm-up. Finally I caught up to the group as they gathered for dynamic stretches and some verbal instruction and demonstration on how to run hills.

So many adults around, all in a great mood! I recognized members of the local running club I’ve joined, people I saw at the Shamrock Shuffle or who post frequently. I knew some people. I was so dang happy to be outside. I even put on my Warrior Dash 2016 finisher shirt: hills are serious business!

Our leader explained there were three levels of hill-running: advanced (all running), intermediate (run hill, jog down, walk back,) and beginners (run hills only at pace/extent they are capable.) I put myself in the intermediate group.

The first pass was brutal! But still, I loved it. I seek out hills in my own runs but have never known a strategy for them. He demonstrated strides for us. I may be slow, but I was reminded that I *am athletic. I was able to muster more energy than I expected.

I wasn’t counting at first but he said we should do a minimum of six passes. I believe I did, if not seven. Our leader stood and gave us encouragement and feedback. He said my form was good– hearing I was doing it right spurred me forward.

After I turned on my running app, I got probably the last 4 or 5 passes.

I got stronger each time.

Afterwards, we all did a team cheer where we put all our hands together and yelled, “HILLS!” Like in middle-school. 🙂 A group of people did some shots to celebrate. Some went back out to run more.

I went home! The wind was getting to me. I didn’t want to get sick. I could feel it in my legs today, but I wasn’t uncomfortable. Those leg muscles must be getting more tolerant.

This is going to be my new favorite place! I will do hill repeats on my own. I will explore the park and find a new running route. I might go back with a friend.

I feel like a whole new aspect of my community opened up to me. What a gift!

No More Excuses

Last night, I was reminded of who I am: a journalist.

I’ve been out of the newsroom for years, but that didn’t matter when I attended the j-school reunion of my alma mater, Eastern Illinois University. I thought I’d feel self-conscious, as many of my classmates are still working at dailies and have advanced in their careers. They’ve worked at several papers, on several different beats. They’ve won awards for their reporting.

Six months ago, I became a columnist for my hometown newspaper. I’ve been a blogger for just shy of a year.

And everyone I met was equally supportive and excited about what I’m doing– there was no egos or judgement about my long “sabbatical.”

My former classmates were happy to see me– it wasn’t about my resume.  We reminisced about our classes, working together in the student newspaper as staff writers and editors. About going to parties. My former professors and the new faculty were encouraging. They didn’t ask me where I had been in the gap years– but where I wanted to go.

Journalists are dynamic, articulate, inspiring people.  They challenge you, and ask the tough questions. They aren’t deterred by obstacles.

I was shocked by how easily I fit in.

All I could think was, “Why did I wait so long to come HOME?”

I thought journalism was dead, and I had missed my chance.

But I met recent grads who are still as hungry I was once was. Yes, the game has changed.

But I can still play.

I’m reminded of a quote from my favorite Stephen King book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” :

“If God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it?”

I’ve run out of excuses.