A little over three miles from our house, well out of town and around a rising right-hand turn on a dirt road, there’s my version of the runner’s perfect hill. The turn comes after a sweet riverside flat that sets you up to launch smoothly into an uphill half-mile that’s at exactly the right pitch. It’s not steep steep. Let’s call it stern. It allows you to maintain the slightly modified basics of your normal stride, but it requires more effort, more concentration, and more drive. It’s a solid test, and if you lean in and work hard, it pays you back in strength, stamina, and confidence. Decades ago, I ran repeats here once or twice a week as a transition between periods of aerobic base training and sharpening for competition. It was magic.

I’ve been thinking again about this hill. Until pretty recently I’d gradually been giving up on all sorts of things. My body seemed to require it, and my spirit was caving in. My spirit has had it with that shit, and it’s reasserting itself. Of course, pushing 70, I’m fading in I can’t even begin to count the ways. But why make it easy? Lu finally gets off my back in a couple of months. I’m shedding flab (down 18 pounds in a couple of months), working seriously in the gym and feeling reasonably strong and supple. And now I’m actually beginning to feel good on my lengthening runs. I feel like seeing how far all this can take me. So this week I’m going to head out to that rising right-hand turn and (gently, gently) renew acquaintances.

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