Friday, January 7, 2011

To Hill and Back

I remember the game like it was yesterday. My brother, who was in his late teens, and I were playing basketball. Despite being four years younger, I was slightly taller. What was supposed to be a relaxed game of basketball, turned very intense. My brother couldn’t take it anymore. I don’t think that what bothered him was the fact that I was winning. The fact that I was competing as if my life depended on it, was too much for him.

Eric qualified for Boston yesterday, in just his third marathon. While I am happy for him, I must be honest and admit that it was hard for me to hear the news. I was supposed to be the one to qualify first. I had it all planned for May. When that didn’t work out and Eric beat my PR by three minutes in June, I knew this fall would be my chance to get there first. Then I hurt my knee. Now he has what I want. It’s not so much that he got there first. What if, I find my inner-voice asking, he is the only one to qualify?

I like running hills. It wasn’t always something I enjoyed, but I figured that if I was going to have to run them, I may as well learn to love it. The burning in my legs and lungs as I push myself up the hill feels good to me.
A friend has a magnet on his refrigerator which reads “Life is like riding a bicycle; if it feels easy, it is sign you are going downhill”.

A former colleague once told me that I reminded him of Pete Rose, the baseball great, who was so intense that he crashed into the catcher to score the winning run in the all-star game, a meaningless game. The catcher, Ray Fosse was never the same again. Rose explained that there is only one way to play the game.

After hearing my brother’s news, I came home and ran hills, as if somehow I could run my fear into the ground. Woke up this morning and the fear is still there. I got stronger and so did it.

Another colleague once told me that not every hill is worth dying over. I held my tongue, but wanted to ask whether any hill was worth dying over. I think we were both correct about the other’s weakness.

One thing you have to say about the hills, the heights bring the highs. When I get a “runner’s high”, it inevitably comes at the top of the hill.

I wonder whether Sisyphus ever stopped to enjoy the view, or at the very least, appreciate the workout he was getting.

The hill I like to run up is next to a cemetery. I call it “Death Hill”. I morbidly joke that if I die while running up the hill, someone can throw my body over the fence. I know. It’s not funny.

Before my injury I thought all I would need was hard work to get to Boston. Work harder, get faster. Post-injury, there is fear. Fear that it won’t happen.

I don’t know why, I have to do it. Even though I know that when I get there, there will be anew “it” to take its place.

PLEASE donate in my mom’s memory to help children with cancer:

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