That Big Hill

Excerpt from Chapter One: That Big Hill

Our heart rates instantly return to their maximums, skipping the gradual buildup of the preliminaries. The profuse sweat that sprang from my pores resumed after having slowed during the break. The steepness remained and our pace had not quickened. But something had changed; this was familiar territory now. We knew the hill. We knew the symptoms manifested in wet bodies and throbbing chests; and they felt good because we knew that we were on the verge of conquering this hill. I didn’t think it then though I quoted it to my kids for years: “I am the road. I am the hill,” but we both felt it. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t have to run it, it was still there. It just meant that our mental breakthrough helped us make the physical breakthrough. This was not agony or a challenge or a workout. This was fun. This is what we had chosen to do. This is why we had chosen to do it.

We had only a vague sense at the bottom of the hill of why we would make that turn, and there were no victory signs awaiting us as we crested, but internal satisfaction would be enough. Even if we didn’t fully realize the implications, we basked in the morning sun at the overlook, talked about small things and knew that one more small fiber had been woven in that bond between us. We also knew that we were (are) champions and that we can face other big hills off the running course. Then, well, we did the inevitable and the necessary: we ran as slowly as possible down the hill trying to avoid cartilage damage from the pounding forced on our knees by the elevation loss.

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