Familiar vs New

Ten days into the month and I am keeping the pace. This month I will do 6 to 8 miles for my longer runs and 2 miles for my recovery days. There are several routes I will add to my list this month. I like to have a mixture of hills and flat terrain, and I will still include a familiar route that has several rolling hills. Some good things can happen on familiar routes.

On a path I know, like the one with the rolling hills, I can run without thinking about what is coming or which way I should go. I know the general distance I must go and the amount of time that must lapse before I reach my set goal. Although the route is familiar it is still a challenge. I can barely keep my pace while traveling up these steep hills and they seem to never top off quick enough. I used to slow all the way down to a walk at about halfway up a couple of the hills, but now I keep running. It is a slower run as I push my aching thighs to continue, and I will take that for now. 

Maneuvering this route, a couple of times a month has created a few fans for me on the sidelines. Along the way there is a blue house which is fenced in, but the gate is usually open when I pass by and there are three young boys who call out to me and wave. I have even grabbed a runaway ball for them and made sure they made it back across the street after retrieving it. Hearing their laughter and voices alarms me of the next hill on my route. Their house is right at the beginning of the second hill I run up and it may be the steepest. 

At the top of that hill there isn’t a downslope, it curves right into another incline. Since there is a dogwalker’s house midway through I call it the Doghouse hill. At this point on my route I am occasionally greeted by a lady sometimes she is in her car or headed into to her home. Normally she nods or smiles, and I often see people passing by or in their cars doing this, so I wasn’t expecting to be remembered until the day she did something unusual. I was rounding the curve at the top of the hill and headed into the next just as I passed her house and she yells out “you are getting stronger”. I smiled through my mask as I waved at her and ran on. A few seconds later I looked down at my legs and thought I am getting stronger. 

I needed those words in my ear that day. Before I stepped off my porch that morning, I had decided to run right through the Blue House hill or hill number 2 and on to the connecting Doghouse hill or hill number 3. Even if I had to catch my breath for a couple of seconds on the downslope, I was going to make that day my first time completing both hills without walking. It is great to find new routes to challenge the muscles and it is also rewarding to go on a familiar path. I am looking forward to doing both during this month.

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