running hills


The first week of my new life here in California has been a mixed bag.  All my stuff arrived right on cue. My sister helped me move in. And do the Target shopping. And clean the place. I have plenty of snacks and my pillows and my streamlined shoe collection. So that’s all positive.

But homesick does not fully describe the breadth of emotion I have experienced. Finding myself alone in a completely foreign place (for one thing, the high temperature in August is a chill upper-70 degrees if that warm), I have had to wrestle with feeling like I’m in a valley kindof place in my life.

Bereft of a gym membership, I got up early this morning, a Saturday, to do “interval hills” like on the stairmaster only without the stairmaster and on a real hill. See, I live up on this hill with a steep 30% grade (at least) to get to it; each walk up it has left me out of breath. So—what better way to master the hill—dubbed “Holy Hill” by the locals—than to get to the point where I no longer heave at its summit.

As I trained—trying to run up it, walking down it in stitches—the modern day psalmist Usher Raymond provided the soundtrack for my routine:

Is your head spinning?
Is your heart racing?
Is there fire in your veins?

Are your bones burning?
Is your skin yearning?
‘Cause you’re driving me insane

I kinda feel like I feel like I saw the light
You got me way up a thousand miles
Can we stay right here in this atmosphere
Like we’re flying in outer space

Don’t look down
Up this high, we’ll never hit the ground
Don’t look down
See that sky?
We’re gonna reach it now

Do you feel the lightning inside of you
Will you follow through if I fall for you?
Don’t look down
Up this high, we’ll never hit the ground

Are your hands shaking?
Are your fears breaking?
Are you climbing all the walls?

Are the times changing?
Is the noise fading?
‘Cause I wanna get it all

I kinda feel like I feel like I saw the light
You got me way up a thousand miles
Can we stay right here in this atmosphere
Or are you afraid to fall?

Don’t look down
Up this high, we’ll never hit the ground
Don’t look down
See that sky?
We’re gonna reach it now

Do you feel the lightning inside of you
Will you follow through if I fall for you?
Don’t look down
Up this high, we’ll never hit the ground

Don’t look down

Do you feel the lightning inside of you
Will you follow through if I fall for you?
Don’t look down
Up this high, we’ll never hit the ground

And as I worked to put my glutes into each labored step up the hill, I had somewhat of an epiphany.

You see, when I left my home three years ago and arrived in Dallas, I hit the ground running, so-to-speak. Training with other community ambassadors, I entered my “stairmaster” phase, diligently learning, showing up, stretching, growing. After around two years of training, I gained a great amount of experience and some endurance for the work. Yet, I did feel, to an extent, that I was plateauing a bit. Like they say in the gym culture: when you perform a certain routine over and over, your muscles aren’t really gaining anything new. I could complete the course, and in good form, but I became restless. I began to feel there was more I wanted to do, try, experience.

Are your bones burning?

Is your skin yearning?

Yeah, they were.

So I changed the routine, started over, tried something brand new.

It has felt very much like a valley, this place I resigned myself to.

But what I have realized is that this “valley” place is really just the bottom of a hill. A hill that I have to climb over and over so that my legs will get stronger. So that my lungs can adjust to the increased volume of oxygen my body will require to endure these intervals. So that maybe I can train others to climb—then run—up these hills with me. So that I will be strong, filled with endurance for the hills ahead.

It’s exhausting but I feel so accomplished when I make it up the hill.

“Do you feel the lightning inside of you,” the vocalist beckoned.

Yes. Yes I do.

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smells like…grad school

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One thought on “running hills

  1. Pingback: @charlesmblow: His fire, my fire  | uhm...

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