If (runner = lost) {road = 'hills'}

It's a theme lately for both run and bike. With any wrong turn, the road ahead will feature a steep, gnarly hill. (On the bike, it's downhill 2 miles before I realize the road ends smack in the lake and I have to turn around. And climb.)

So here's why I love hills — painful, wind-sucking, grinding hills.

I'm not physically cut out for them. I'm not lightweight or streamlined. This means I have to learn a whole lot about my body, how to play to its strengths, to get it up the hill. I love hills because they take me to school.

I love physical comedy, and going around a corner to find a whopping big hill, well, it's like a big pie in the face, like the planet blowing a big raspberry. The sheer absurdity of the hill, the ridiculousness of it! The nerve of that hill being there! Hills perversely cheer me up.

I like looking up a hill and saying, "I don't know if I can do that!" and then going to find out. I always find out something interesting.

When I see a hill — incidentally, I keep mis-typing it as "hell" — when I see a hill, I get a surge of "game on" mixed with a splash of "oh mother of crap."

And then — I don't know how else to say it — I lick my chops. Hills make me feel voracious. Hills make me salivate. I absolutely MUST see what happens between us, me and the hill.

I don't want to conquer the hill; I want to seduce it. I want to collect it. I want to tame it like a cat that keeps its claws. The hill and I, we are rivals, but we are also conspirators in creating this act of running, this feat of cycling.

So of course I talk to the hills.

When I win in my friendly match with the hill, I say "Ha ha! Mine!" And since after all we humans with our road graders and nuclear waste caves and whatnot always have the upper hand over every hill on the planet, I think it is only fair that when the hill wins, I say, "I congratulate you, madam. Well played."