We never lived in the mountains but for all my years we've lived with them resting on our horizon. True, the trees tried their best to hide the hills, but they were always there and all it took was a walk across a field or a quick drive down the driveway to reveal Hogback or White Oak or some other strangely named mountain. It's an image I didn't even realize was a part of my visual vocabulary until a few years ago when I did that one-drawing-each-week-for-a-year goal. As I looked over the 52 drawings, most of them had a hilly horizon somewhere in the picture plane.
Out on the new plantation we have some hills within a short walk but we have to drive to the next exit up the interstate to get a glimpse of those same mountains. My makeshift running path is mostly flat. This is a realization I just had today. Before today I would have described the path as slightly hilly. I assumed I was running up small hills and down small hills and that I was getting a good workout for my legs. Today, however, brother Daniel and I ran the "Gobble Your Gibblets 5K" at USC Upstate in Spartanburg. Now I am convinced that someone moved their campus into the high mountains just for this race. My legs are screaming. There were hills there that came out of nowhere and the inclines looked like something out of an evil geometry book.
These races are so strange. I run this same distance at least 6 days a week, but there's something about running with other people who are itching to outrun you. I try to tune them out, I try to pretend I'm running at home, I even closed my eyes a few times (not one of my better ideas) but I still ran faster than I normally do. Faster is good for time but not so great for the heart. At least that's how it felt during the last few hundred meters. There was this one absolute killer of a hill on the last kilometer that eventually tapered out to just a regular hill that remained almost all the way to the finish line. I would swear I heard that hill laughing at me.
We did well though. I think we both improved our times from last year and I was happy to finish 2nd in my age range. Of course, 2nd is just the first loser, but after that last hill I think we were both happy to just be walking upright after the race.
There's brother Daniel crossing the finish line in noble fashion. And since it's shopping season, I'm sure he'd love for you to come to his store The Tangled Web across from Westgate Mall in Spartanburg. If you need comics, games or anime, he can hook you up. www.twebcomics.com