January 28, 2023

Running uphill has benefits

Mackinac Island church

One of the benefits of maturity is using misery as a teachable moment to oneself. After missing most of the nice weather running events with a bad knee, I thought the Mackinac Island Great Turtle Trail Run would be a nice and easy run. Mulling the half marathon while wiggling the knee, I found the convenient rationale for selecting the 5.7 mile trail run instead. I also discovered that stomping the knee in frustration doesn’t work as a cure. All the excuses also don’t work. I listened to everyone around me at the start of the 5.7 trail run explain their litany of excuses why they signed up for the 5.7 rather than the half marathon. It takes one to know one. I recognized that I was in my own tribe when I heard my thoughts coming from their mouths on why the big event failed to get the applicant. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, from a literary perspective, begins with Ring Lardner’s Alibi Ike, Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman, and works up to Herman Melville’s Captain Ahab. ¬†First chuck alibis, advance to chuck the spears out there in the blue. A neighbor recognized me and said she watched me run the same route at home and had to introduce herself. This was teachable moment number one. I ran the simple, flat five mile route without the slightest variation. It led to injury and complacency. I rarely saw my neighbor running this route. She entered the half marathon with her daughter. She was too nice to smirk. My expectation for something easy began straight uphill and continued through the trails and more hills, realizing this course was perhaps payback for signing up for the short run.

The car miles have outnumbered by one hundred to one the miles on my running shoes this year. Alibi Ike laced up in the Asics for a big year, but darn if all these alibis keep stopping him. Teachable moment number two- doing the work daily, regardless the duration, strengthens the mind and body and the work habits far more than these plans for the weekend warriors. I wasn’t sure what was weaker as I ran uphill- my mind or my legs. But this isn’t about running.

One of the most memorable sights that I saw at the bottom of the hill this year was a shack, surrounded on all sides by liquor stores and abandoned buildings. The shack was in a neighborhood that assaulted your eyes with advertisements for alcohol, lottery, food stamps, and ruin porn. There weren’t any windows on the shack, which was probably a good thing, considering the view. A large banner was nailed to the shack with the message “All Things Are Possible.” The race to the bottom ended here.

The view at the top of the hill on Mackinac Island was worth the effort. I had walked around the island and up the hills for two hours before the race and went to the start line already tired but convinced the race to the bottom is for losers. I will be back next year for the half marathon, or Alibi Ike dies.


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