I was running through the neighborhood, dreading the hills, but feeling better than usual, and as usual, wishing I were on my bike.

There’s always this comparison in my mind about how I have to approach each run: I’m used to being on my bike for three and four hours, why can’t I run three or four hours? Well maybe I can, I just never tried…or thought that a sane notion.

So then there was Shut-In. Ever since I heard about it I thought it sounded fun.  It’s the first Saturday in November, so even the weather is enough of a challenge. It could be snowing with icy puddles, or it could be 70 degrees with blue skies. Every year I thought I would do it, and then something would change that – pregnancy, building an addition, sick parent…so this year I was certain I would do it. I even got the chance to train for it. Somewhat. I don’t believe in being over–prepared. Anyway, this year it’s Kenny’s 50th birthday party, and I can’t bear to miss a trip to Austin to help celebrate…and RIDE! Not that there’s any good riding around the Austin area…

Despite missing it another year, I will continue to run as if I’m going to do it. Kind of. All up until that last two weeks of relentlessly running hills.

I find myself attracted to anything involving people physically torturing themselves while sharing with others this self-imposed purgatory. Especially when it lasts for more than two hours. Training tips say to train as if you are running a marathon. It’s only 18 miles, but its straight up, ending with a scramble up the mountainside.

The thing is, running is hard. I think what I have to do is forget that it’s running. I just want to be in shape enough so that scrambling up a mountain for half the day is an adventure, rather than a trip to the ER.

All of this mulls through my mind as I crank up the Beastie Boys just to keep my legs pumping.  I think the reason I always want to stop running is because it’s boring. I think of ways to entertain myself so that I don’t revert to ADD medications. Then I try to convince myself that I’m really riding my bike.

The sun angles across the street with a rich afternoon glow of orange through fall leaves. I remind myself that I’m spending time with myself, and to stop and breathe, because it is a rare moment. Then suddenly it isn’t running anymore. It’s meandering around the neighborhood talking to people with an aerobic heart rate while nobody interrupts me. It’s bliss.

Then comes the steepest hill in the neighborhood. I hate running it and try to avoid it, but no matter what, if I run down to the lake, I have to run back up again to get home. I haven’t cleared it with the stroller, but I can muscle through it when I’m alone.

As I’m running up this horrible hill I realize that I wouldn’t be whining nearly as much were I on my bike in the woods on something technical and steep. I would merely be bitching – but I would NEVER consider stopping. That’s when I realize that my inability to run long-distance has been due to the completely wrong mindset. This running is exactly what my mind and body need for balance. It’s why I do yoga – it forces me to stop. It allows my body to breathe and focus. It keeps me from being a spaz.

So I imagine myself pumping up the mountain on my bike, and that every climbing step is a pedal stroke, and suddenly it’s easy, and I have breath left over to speed up at the top.