a group of runners gathers in the early twilight at the mouth of a canyon. laughter and introductions all around before they head up the road into the belly of the beast. the run description said "easy group jog" for the first half, but the group takes off, leaving the resident slowpoke no choice but to yell ahead, "hey! SOMEone has to stay with me to keep the mountain lions at bay!"
the run organizer drops back to stay with her. heading into the canyon, conversation flows easily. stars begin to appear as the slowpoke and organizer turn around when the rest of the group is heading back out the canyon after turning at the first stream crossing. the slowpoke picks up her pace, anticipating the meat of the journey: hill repeats on well-known, much-feared hill about three-quarters of a mile from the start.
it's dark and the slowpoke turns on her headlamp. short strides, quick turnover. breathe in, breathe out. breathe in, breathe out. up up up up up. suddenly, she pops up at the top of the hill. it's time to turn around and jog down. she is surprised to have run to the top; she's only done that once before. this is a walking hill in her ultra background.
she heads back up the hill, hoping to make it up a second time, but not counting on it. short strides, quick turnover. breathe in, breathe out. breathe in, breathe out. up up up up up. before she knows it, she's popped out up at the top. this is new; she's never run this hill - or any hill - twice before. and she's enjoying it!
she heads back down the hill, enjoying the string of headlamps bobbing up and down as the group runs the hill at various paces. she is ready to go back up, thinking she'll probably walk about halfway up. short strides, quick turnover. breathe in, breathe out. breathe in, breathe out. up up up up up. she wants to walk but pushes herself to keep running. and she does, popping out at the top rather surprised at how well she's done. she keeps company at the top with the few others done, cheering on the runners left.
the second-to-last runner comes up top and she cajoles him back out for one more - it'll be a cool-down for him, since he'll run with her. sure enough, she repeats the performance. short strides, quick turnover. breathe in, breathe out. breathe in, breathe out. up up up up up.
wow. four repeats.
the group heads back to the parking lot. the slowpoke is stoked. *this* is what 2009 is going to be about: growing community, getting stronger.