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.