On New Year’s Day, I went to Pilot Mtn. and ran all the way
up.  Harper Lee and Isaac had been
throwing up the day before, and by morning, Rob was sick as well.  I was pretty sure I was next in
line.  There are only so many
places a mommy can hide from a virus once the vomit and diarrhea has
begun.  For most of the morning and
early afternoon, I had a headache and my stomach felt queasy, and I almost
called Deanne to bail out on the whole thing.  We were scheduled to meet Rex, Jason and Alison and a few of
the kids at the bottom of Pilot Mtn. at 3:00.  However, I was not completely sick, not yet, and I knew that
if I was going to get sick, it was inevitable so I might as well get a good run
in while I could, and if I wasn’t and I bailed on the workout, then I’d be
pretty pissed. 

When I got there, I was immediately happy that I’d decided
to run.  Even if I had to stop on
the side of the road to be sick, I was out on the first day of a brand new year
with good friends to run up the side of a ridiculously steep mountain.   The sun was shining, it wasn’t
nearly as cold as it might have been, and I knew, after having run this same
workout last Christmas, that to complete this run is one of those workouts that
can fuel your mental toughness for quite some time. 

Deanne had never run it and was feeling a little
apprehensive.  I had run it so I
was just scared.  Rex told her that
it would be horrible after the first half mile, but that it wouldn’t get any
worse from that point on. 
Basically, if you can convince yourself that it won’t hurt any more than
it does at 4:00, then, you can make yourself endure for the next 20:00.  As we warmed up, she asked me if that
was true, and I said, “Yeah, pretty much.” 

Last year, I ran just over 25:00, but I was hoping to run
faster this time.  I am much more
fit than I was last year, but I was also fighting off a nasty stomach bug, so I
had resigned myself to just finishing without incident.  I think I started off much more slowly
and under control this time.  Last
year, I had no idea what I was getting into, and while I thought I had started
off under control, I still ran at a faster clip than my usual training
pace.  It was a hill workout after
all.  This year, I knew better and
started off slower.  After that
first little incline, I was in such oxygen debt, starting off faster was not
only stupid but pretty pointless as well.

I don’t really know what to say about the climb itself.  It was hell the whole way up.  This workout is an exercise in just
putting one foot in front of the other. 
From the beginning, my quads burned, my lungs and heart went into
overdrive, and my mind fought that old, familiar battle with itself.  There was much more traffic this year,
so the number of cars driving by was a bit of a distraction.  There’s nothing like faces in moving
vehicles staring at you as if you’ve lost your mind to inspire you to keep
running.  At several points, I felt
as if my body had bent to a 90-degree angle, but I kept moving.  Even when it sometimes felt like
walking would be faster, I kept moving.

At the end, I ran to the sign I’d been waiting to see for
over two long miles, and I had done it faster than last year at 24:52.  As I hung my head toward the ground,
hands on knees and spit dripping from my chin, I smiled.  I had made it… again.  Even if I spent the next 24 hours with
my head in a toilet, it was totally worth it.  The sun shone over the tops of the trees of Pilot Mountain
that afternoon, and a group of friends cheered for one another as each of us
rounded the last curve.  It was, as
Deanne later said, “the worst thing I’ve ever done,” and I can’t wait to do it
again.  Happy New Year!