Today I ran a HILLY 10k.
When I say hilly, I mean HILLY. So hilly, in fact, that the race website didn’t include an elevation chart with the race map — I don’t think anyone would’ve shown up if they did!
It’s a breathtaking spot, truly. Red sandstone rocks jut from the ground and cut through the sky. Man somehow carved a concert stage and stadium seating into the structures, forming an almost sad, yet picturesque, juxtaposition between modern life and nature.
While there were a few brief moments of mild relief during the race — downhill sections where the road was split and I could see the other half of runners making their way back uphill — the race culminated with a 1-mile uphill section for the both the 5k and 10k. The giant hill led to a steep ramp that then led to sets of stadium stairs before the finish line.
That last mile obliterated runners. Most walked. A few walk-ran. And I saw no one consistently running — except for me.
I don’t say that to brag. I do, however, say it to make a point.
Life, my dear readers, is full of hills.
A tough major in college that requires constant studying, with the added stress of working while going to school full time. A rough patch in your marriage that requires patience, understanding and the ability to find love in even the darkest of places.
Sometimes those hills come at you for a mile straight, if not more.
A year-long bout with cancer that eats away at your body, spirit and maybe even soul. The death of a loved one that tears down all the hope you ever held in your heart and all the good you ever saw in the world.
It’s the people who keep running, even on the hills, who come out okay — better even — in the end.
That tough college major led to a dream job and the peace of security and stability. Working on your marriage created a deeper connection between you and your spouse.
If you don’t stop to walk, and keep the same passion and stamina for life you’ve always had, you come out a stronger, more confident person.
A battle with cancer taught you how precious life is, and you now live every day to its fullest. Losing a loved one brought you closer to the ones you still have, and you now make an effort to see them as often as you can.
It’s okay to walk the hills if you must, but run them for as long as possible.
Oftentimes, running them requires a slow, methodical pace. It requires you to face each day as it comes without thinking ahead and fearing what tomorrow holds.
Breathe. Focus on the now.
Have an off day, walk for a few minutes. But don’t forget to resume running — don’t give up.
Don’t let the hills defeat you like they defeat so many others. Keep on pushing against them, conquering them, so you can get to the other side and see what waits for you.
Though you may have to run for a while to see it, I promise it’s something good.
For me, it was a 4th place finish and a 1st place age group award waiting for me at the top of the hill. It was also the smiling face of loved ones.
Perhaps for you, something even grander awaits.
What hills have you run recently? How did you find the motivation and strength to keep on running?