58 Minutes!

The shuffling (touch wood) has been going well. Still a bit creaky and stiff, but if I can keep a few noisy and troublesome body parts from causing trouble, I think that good rhythm should be kicking in soon. Along these lines, I’ve begun dabbling again in the occasional incline.

I’ve always liked hills. I was known as a great hill runner in high school, discovered in college that I wasn’t, and a decade later built lots and lots of long hills into my training. Around town, I’ve got two catalogues: sweethearts and bastards. The sweethearts, by and large are long and seven percent or so. The bastards are often shorter and sometimes also less steep, but they’ve got something ornery about them—a blind turn, a reverse banked surface, a bad intersection, something like that. What I love is a hill that lets me maintain some sort of cadence and technique, while challenging leg strength and turnover rate over some worthwhile distance.

My all-time favorite hill, though, is in France and has nothing to do with running (not for me, anyway!). It’s the climb up to the Col de Tricot on the Tour du Mont Blanc. H and I had stopped to fill our water bottles at the Refuge de Miage on our clockwise “backwards” tour, while we looked at what the guidebook called the “sobering view” of the path switchbacking up 1,800 feet to the coll. The book said it would take an hour and a half. The French signpost called for two. Feeling very fit, we pressed on to crest in 58 minutes. This became our battle-cry, and we crowed “58 minutes!” at appropriate—and inappropriate—moments for the rest of the trip. And occasionally since.

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