Running Uphill Is The Worst, But You Should Probably Still Do It

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I am now mere weeks away from some kind of buffalo/cow/large land-mammal-themed relay race in Kansas City and a few weeks more removed from the Wine and Dine half-marathon in Florida. I'm also going on a booze sabbatical. Things are terrible lately. Come, join in the misery and music. Here's the Spotify playlist you never knew you wanted.

Everything is Godspeed You! Black Emperor this week. I did all my running outside. Deal with it.

"Mladic," Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Came to the realization this week that I am terrible at judging distances. Like, horrible at it. I assume this is because while running, all I want is for it to be over. Desperately. So, I guess my mind gets to wishfully thinking and speeds up whatever GPS machine we're supposed to have in our brains and makes me feel like not only have I traversed more space than I actually have, but time as well.


I was continuing my exploration of the local trails this week and my wife told me to look for a landmark of sorts on stretch of the Croton Aqueduct Trail I hadn't been on before "about 3/4 of a mile down from [a landmark I was familiar with]."

Me: 3/4 of a mile. Got it! Let's do thiiiiiiiiissssssss! [warms up by doing 150 pushups in front of his increasingly turned on wife.] YEEARGHGHGH!! [runs out door]


Wife: [fans self]

(cut to: trail)

Me: OK, there's my landmark. 3/4 of mile to the next one.

Me: [30 seconds later]: That it? No.

Me: [15 seconds after that]: Maybe th-nope not it.

Me: [10 seconds after that]: It's been at least five minutes, what the fuck. WHERE IS THIS STUPID THING?


Me: [one hour later, sitting against a tree, crying]

(cut to: wife filing a missing person's report 36 hours later)

Wife: He was just going for a quick run, not 3/4 of a mile away from here.

Officer: 3/4 of mile, you say? Hold tight.

(cut to: officer's wife filing a missing person's report 36 hours later)

Portions of the foregoing may have been dramatized.

"Their Helicopters Sing," Godspeed You! Black Emperor

I'm even bad about it with driving directions. Give it to me in travel time or lights or something. You'll be on that road for like 2 minutes or You'll pass six lights and then take your first left are so much more helpful than just telling me the mileage. If you insist on giving me distance-based measurements please do it in basketball hoops. I can tick off 528 basketball hoops a lot easier than I can guess how fucking long a mile is.


I had a rough couple weeks these last two. I ran seven and eight miles, respectively, as my long runs. Before my seven-miler, I found out my aunt died. I was randomly at my parents (not so randomly, it's very flat out there so, nice for a long run) and got the news pretty quickly. She had been sick for some time but it still bummed me out for a couple of reasons. First, and obviously, I lost a family member for whom I cared dearly. Secondly, and more disconcertingly, it made me think about how I always take the easy way out.

"We Drift Like Worried Fire," Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Like I said, we knew for some time that she was sick. She lived, perhaps, 15 minutes away from me and I never went to see her. Ever. I did almost the exact same thing when her husband, my dad's closest brother in age and brotherliness, died years ago. I was much younger, but felt exactly the same as I did this summer: I didn't want to see him because I didn't want to see him sick. I didn't want to compromise my memories and have the last image be one of tubes sticking every which way. I'm certain all people feel this same feeling. For whatever reason, I found it too difficult to bear and decided to not even try. Or, more accurately, prevented myself from having to decide.


So, they both died and I never saw them. I bring it up because it sort of just got me thinking about why I did that and I'm not throwing myself a pity party or whatever, but it seems pretty clear to me that I chose the easy way out for myself. Seeing either would have been difficult for me, so I just didn't. It wasn't that I couldn't be bothered, it's that I would be. The funny thing is that—as Irish Brothers do sometimes—my brother and I got drunk not too long ago and started talking sappy about our uncle and I basically said all of this to him, mentioning how I regretted it. A couple weeks later our aunt died. I think I'd revise "regret" and just leave it as a character flaw I'd like to fix. I don't think it means I loved either one of them any less because I didn't sit down with them as they died in a hospital room. I think it just means I protect myself too much some times.

"Strung Like Lights At Thee Printemps Erable," Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Which I guess is the overall moral of this thought-train. I always avoid the hills. Because the hills are hard. But it's pretty much impossible to get back to where you were, if you ran downhill, without at some point going back uphill. Maybe one of these days I'll just say fuck it and tackle the really big hills at the outset instead of accidentally finding myself at a point where I need to climb a shitload of hills at some later time.


Which brings us to this week's eight-mile run. Good lord, the hills. I mentioned above going further up the Aqueduct trail. It was nice, but a large part of this new section I ran on was downhill. And the only way to get back home is to turn around. I was already sucking wind while I was still going down the hill and I still had to get back home. I thought about just running straight forever and then calling my wife to come pick me up, but that seemed ridiculous. So, around five miles, I turned around and began my climb.

"Moya," Godspeed You! Black Emperor

It was, I imagine, almost exactly like what opposing players feel when they play the Broncos in Denver. Almost exactly like that. My lungs felt like that scene in the action movie where the protagonist is reaching for his lady friend in danger of falling, hands so close, but unable to grasp, until finally! they grasp each other and tragedy is averted. Except the one hand is my blood and the other is oxygen. Basically like that. For at least 16 miles/120 minutes. Or maybe, like, 50 basketball hoops. Whichever.


When I got done with that hill things leveled off, but only for a short time. I knew it was coming, too. I knew the second hill. As I approached I had an internal discussion that went basically like this: oh yeah, that hill's coming. Well, I'll just run to the hill and walk up it when I get there. No, you know, what? Fuck that. I can do it. I just ran up that big-ass hill up there, I can do this one. Oh, maybe let's just go with run as far up the hill as I can and then stop. Actually no, we're stopping right now. Stop right now.

"Gathering Storm," Godspeed You! Black Emperor

I had to walk like a mile-and-a-half of the final two miles of my "run." It was a mess. Things were exacerbated by my aforementioned total inability to accurately track distance and so I kept walking and sweating and checking my GPS and swearing and repeating. I did run the final half-mile home, though. That was some sort of moral victory (I guess) because, man, did I not want to run for half a mile, at all.


"Terrible Canyons of Static," Godspeed You! Black Emperor

I made the decision to cut out booze one month before the half-marathon. This means I need to drink a boatload of wine and pumpkin beer before October 9. I'm not so worried about that part, it's the what-happens-after-October-9 part. I have no doubt that I will successfully accomplish the feat (with some help, to be discussed), it's just, man, it sounds lousy. I like drinking. I really like drinking and watching serialized television shows. I have, like, 8 episodes left in Deadwood—which has quickly become my favorite show of all time—and I cannot begin to explain how much I enjoy just sitting down to a couple eps and polishing off a six pack or a glass of wine or five. But now with this self-imposed hiatus, I'm left with the option of just powering through all the episodes and getting blasted by Wednesday, or delaying it all until after the race. I'm leaning toward after just because I don't want the series to end.


There will be some oases in the desert that has become mid-October, though. We are definitely going to drink in Kansas City after that relay race. I will drink and eat local fare in Kansas City, goddammit. And I think I have a Jets game in a week. I'll probably drink then, too. Still! 28 out of 30, or whatever it is, is pretty good.

"East Hastings," Godspeed You! Black Emperor

I am a little interested to see how the post-race wine and dine event is going to be after cutting out booze for (basically) a month. My tolerance is going to be way down. Plus, I will have just raced 13.1 miles. I think if I smell a glass of wine I'll start chatting up strangers. That's what I do when I get drunk, I get super talkative with basically anyone. Usually I am very quiet and reserved but after a couple drinks I get all chatty. I don't think it's terribly annoying to anyone, but it's totally out of character for me and I always feel weird as I'm doing it. That lasts for, like, 30 minutes and then I go back to being solemnly drunk.


What I'm getting at is, despite how weird and unnatural it sounds, I'm looking forward to getting drunk after running a half-marathon.