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The ski hill holds a special place in my heart. This is the hill where I learned to surrender, in a workout that actually seemed to be designed to beg surrender. I was fighting, fighting, fighting my mind, (see Running is Mental) and my last workout before a 14 day rest period was this: Go to Hyland Hill. Hike up fast. Run down. For 160 minutes. One Hundred and Sixty Minutes. 2 HOURS & 40 MINUTES. Up and down. Up and down. Up. And. Down. As one hour passes. And then as another hour passes. And then tack on another 40 minutes, for good measure. It was windy; then it was raining; then it was sunny. The weather cycled through these phases while I cycled through the 5 stages of grief, up and down that hill, until finally, at the 1 hour and 13 minute mark, I arrived at surrender (or acceptance, if you know the 5 stages of grief.) What was I grieving? I don’t know…Some of my life choices? Some of my attitude choices? Some of my missed opportunities? My age? My genetics vs running? My headphones crapping out? All I know is that I was on a descent, and I let go. I looked at my watch and I had been at it, fighting myself for 1 hour and 13 minutes, and I finally just let it all go. All the frustration, all the anxiety, the angst, the judgement, the thinking, just fell off. Total and utter surrender, and then this: I am training for life, for my life. That’s what all this is. The remaining hour and 27 minutes passed in what I think would be defined as a state of flow, the kind of feeling that is so intoxicating that you would do 100 more grueling workouts just to maybe, possibly experience it again.

This is why I love running. Actually, this is why I have a love/hate relationship with running. My experience is like the book Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten from Running. Every challenge that catches my eye, every race that piques my interest, the lofty goals and the work and the learning—when any of those things come into view for me I know, now, to just turn towards it and go. Because in pursuit of the very real physical goal, I’m going to get a little piece of gold to add to this wealth that I am building—this physical, spiritual and mental wealth.