Anything can happen on Hospital Hill

So N. took up running this week. It'll be easier for him to work out when he's on the road, running shoes being so much the lighter to pack than a road bicycle.

I admit to an uncharitable spasm of jealousy at the fact that he is faster and stronger than I am. It's passed because it was stupid, really. Not only is he lighter and a 100-miler on a bicycle -- but I never cared about being the fastest or the strongest before I suddenly started comparing myself to him. Which is to say I suddenly cared about being the slowest and weakest.

Friends, those are the claw marks of deep and insane fears. Fear so powerful that when I was younger I wanted to obliterate myself to be free of it.

I don't know that I'm stronger than that fear even now, and that's scary, too. Look how easily it gripped me, and all it took was my partner in a new pair of shoes. But I know some fear jujitsu, and here it is: from one perspective, the field is so much bigger than me and my nearest point of comparison. Both of us have a place somewhere in that field. From another perspective, no matter who else is out there and what they set out to do, I am running in a field of one.

And if I choose to free myself of the fear of being the slowest and weakest, maybe I can finally find out just how fast and strong I might become.

So. For today, back to what I cared about before: building my endurance and leg strength, running regularly, and for once in my life -- hopefully for the rest of my life, at last -- enjoying exercise and feeling strong and capable and happier than I ever have in my moving body.

And finishing the Hospital Hill Run in a few weeks. We walked and jogged the course last Saturday morning with Annabelle the dog and I took pictures so I can visualize these hills while I train. Ready? Here we go.

This is the first hill, at the start of the run. We run north up Grand for about three-quarters of a mile. It's a steady, gentle uphill grade. (Conserve, conserve. Do not pace with anybody else.)

From Grand we hang a right on Truman. We have this for about a block (Conserve; it will not go unused; conserve.) :

Then we hang a right on McGee and skate downhill for more than half a mile. (Okay! Have some fun! Longer stride now! Pick it up!) Then we come to this (shorten stride, don't slow down!):

And at the top of that bridge we see this (slow and steady! 150 seconds and you're there!):

And at the top of that hill we turn left and see this, which actually is much gentler than the hill we just finished (catch your breath, round the curve, keep it easy, suck it up):
But after we turn that curve, there's this, the last significant hill for the 5K crowd (ok! let go! Strong legs! steady up! quick step!):

At the top of this hill on the right there's a big church, and as soon as I see that church my heart is going to SING, buddy. Because after that it's downhill to flat for the last mile. (Ride it out, let it burn, you did it, you did it, you did it.)

And you know who will be at the bottom of the hill? That's right, the man who can run it faster and stronger than me and who knows all about my rotten spasm of jealousy. Because somehow, none of those things has meant he has stopped cheering me on.

(Cross-posted from A Sunny Hello.)