by Chris de Serres

I started running up the hill.  Slow and steady.  I checked my heart rate.  A bus raced by, so close.  Finally.  Top of the hill.  Downhill from here.  I ran past blackberry bushes stretching clear down to the bottom of the ravine.  I’m going to have to come back here with Ryan and do some picking.  I reach the trail.  It was so cool down here, next to the creek.

Deep in the woods is an old, forgotten orchard up on a hill.  It still produces apple varieties with names like Gravenstein  Belmont, and Red Astrachan.  They roll down the hill and litter the trail.  I gingerly step past these ancient apple relics.

I don’t always plan my runs.  There must be space left for last minute impulses.  I pass by the trail that leads up to the south ridge, then turn around abruptly and decide to do it.  Some days are not for the hills.  Today is a different day.  I haven’t ran up a hill since my hip injury.

Every run up the south ridge is the same.  This sensation comes over me.  I can’t take the pain.  My heart feels like it’s going to explode.  As soon as I feel like quitting I reach the crest of the ridge, and everything is okay again.  But I know this trail.  What about all those new things in life where I feel like quitting?  Do I continue just a little further?  See if I can crest the pain?

I reach the bluff then charge downhill to the beach.  It’s high tide and very little beach to run.

I head back.  There’s a clearing close to here.  My family will be there, celebrating a birthday party.  I arrive at the clearing, but no one is there.  I am sad to have missed them.  I wanted to surprise Ryan.

I look at my watch.  50 minutes i’ve been moving.  There is a large hill still yet to conquer.  I aim my tired legs and move forward.

Hills are good.  Just when you think your heart will explode there is a crest.  Then a calm.