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Tall Drink of Nerd: Running Up That Hill


a blogumn by Amy Robinson

Sometimes, it seems like every experience I have is a huge, neon metaphor from the universe about my life. This past Sunday, one such metaphor threw itself at me in the form of the Chinatown Firecracker 5k.  There is one thing you should know before we continue into this life lessony type story; I am not athletic.  I’m moderately active for my heart and mental health.  If I could be happy and healthy sleeping in and eating cheese-fries, I’d do it.  But then all of the gyms would be out of business because most of us feel the same way.

marathonSo as the story starts, we find Amy signed up for a 5k run as part of a New Years Resolution to “Run two 5k’s this year”.  My husband, Seen, and I love Chinatown + proceeds for this run benefit Chinatown + we’ve been talking about this run for 3 years = Firecracker 5k is the first 5k Seen and I attempt in ‘09.  So, I started running at the gym, getting my time down, wrecking my knee.  To insure that I’ll actually go through with this, and not wuss out, I tell everyone around me that I’m running this thing.

On a Friday, only 9 days to race-time, a co-worker of mine gives me a frightened look when I tell her how jazzed I am about the upcoming run.  It seems she was thinking about running that race, until she saw the course. It’s uphill to Dodgers Stadium.  Sunday, one week left to train, we drive the Firecracker 5k course and holy mackerel:  It’s 3 sizable uphill runs. 

I start to worry, building those hills up in my mind.  I’ve only been training on flat tracks.  I think, ‘This run might kill me.’  My knee hurts so bad that I walk with a limp, the weatherman calls for rain all weekend and as Sunday morning rises, I start my period. Here’s a little TMI:  I rarely make plans to leave the house on the first day of my lady-times.  It’s crampy and icky and I won’t share more than that with you.  Today however, apprehensive, I down some Advil and don my race t-shirt and bib numbers. We park and it’s raining.  I am totally psyching myself out.

Then, we get out of the car and move into the massive crowd of folks waiting at the starting line.  The rain is only a little spit from the sky and it’s impossible to not get excited as the 100,000 firecrackers are lit to scare away the evil spirits just before we start our run.  The starting gun cracks and here come those hills.  In my mind they were steep-grade mountains, but the 100k firecrackers did their job and the evil spirits clear away as the sun parts rain clouds as I’m cresting the first hill.  Here is where I make my big discovery and where the universal life lessony-type metaphor comes alive:  Whenever there was a hill to run up, there was an easy downhill side to match it.  I thought, “These hills might actually work out for me!”  At 6 ft, I have gangly long legs, running downhill means simply falling the length of one leg at a time.  These terrible hills, the reason my friend didn’t run, the biggest worry in my mind, actually improved my time by 2 minutes.

As I rounded the corner to the finish line, sun shone on the downtown skyline.  All the smog had been cleared away by 2 days of rain and the view was breathtaking.  That last bit of adrenaline kicked in, I can’t feel the cramps or the knee pain and I finished with numbers better than I post on the treadmill.  At the end of this little teeny triumph I take away more than just a free tee shirt and swag.  Now I will do things that seem a little scary, because the hills aren’t ever as steep or high as they look and climbing them eventually works in my favor.   Plus, the view from up here makes it all worthwhile.

Can’t get enough Amy? Check out her blog, Stinky Junior, here

. photo credit: Salem Elizabeth