The cool blue of the pool tricks us and makes us think the air outside has cooled down, enough so that we can start running. Alan decides that today we will run hills to begin our hill training — because that part of the training has been neglected so far and must be addressed. He picks what feels like the hottest day of the year for the start of this portion of training.
We dry off from the pool and change in the parking lot into shorts and running shoes. We stretch our calves and briefly our quads. And then we start running up the dusty trail, up the dusty hill that inclines so quickly. I have forgotten my inhaler at home and desperately suck in the dry air, heavy around me, and it comes in strained tendrils, as if I’m sucking air in through a little red coffee stirrer.
As we run, I am running faster than normal and Alan and Jon run at a speed described as “just having fun.” This is a crushing demoralizer in hill training. After a while, after the blazing sun beats on me and bends me and I am forced to walk up parts of hills, I wave them off.
They run even slower than before, unsure of if I mean what I say. And then, after a few more wavings of my hands, they are off, racing up and down hills. I take a short cut back to the car, I can feel the Taco Bell snack midway between my stomach and my mouth and I walk slowly and with purpose, to keep things down that should remain down.
When I get back to the car, I sit in the small, giving shade of a bare bones tree and I watch the two bodies compete on the steepest hill. They walk down the hill, shirtless. And then they disappear for a few moments and then re-appear, running at full speed back up again. They do this a few times — a slightly pink body and a slightly more brown body, arms pumping and legs reaching. A pink woman in a matching pink sports bra and red-trimmed shorts does the same, but in the opposite order as them. When they run up, she walks down.
I have regained my breath and the waves of nausea have calmed down. From here, while sipping water and sitting in shade, one could almost forget from watching the three of them that it is 97 degrees outside.