Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hills and the Hostile Hippie

I'm glad I put off my long run until today. Yesterday, it was 32 degrees with wind and sleet and slippery roads. Also, I was going to have to run alone. Today the temperature was right around 40, there was a very gentle steady rain, and I had my friend, Mary for company. She warned me over the phone that she hadn't been training and wasn't up for a fast pace today. I was fine with that as long as we could cover some long hilly miles.

Our loop took us over the extremely hilly back roads of Intervale and Jackson. There was one icy stretch at the Jackson end of Dundee, but otherwise the roads were just wet. Mary was actually in surprisingly good shape. While we ran we tried to figure out what she has been doing right all this time she thought she has been goofing off. Well, it turns out that she has been running 5 fast miles three evenings a week with her daughter who is getting ready for outdoor track season. She has also been running around with the middle school kids she coaches for track. Add in all the skiing and walking she does on a regular basis and suddenly we see that she has been training after all, but in such a fun and unstructured way that she doesn't even realize it. We were both pleasantly surprised at our pace and at how good we felt on the hills.

Near the end of our run while we were running up the steepest part of Thorn Hill in the rain, Mary started telling me about the Hostile Hippie. She described him as a silver haired man with a pony tail and a beard who skied and walked in the area. Mary and he had had some sort of confrontation regarding unleashed dogs, which they each tend to travel with. Mary didn't go into a lot of detail which leads me to believe that she is as much at fault for the feud as he is. The confrontation seems to have initially started between the two dogs, but over the course of several chance meetings, the feud transferred over to Mary and the Hippie. The dogs are apparently long since over it.

Mary told me she was afraid of the hippie because she always met up with him in remote places and he was always angry and aggressive and hostile. I pointed out that by definition a hippie couldn't be hostile. Hippies are all about peace and love, you know? Mary wasn't buying it. Just then a car came up from behind and slowed down beside us. The window came down and the driver stuck his head out. Mary gasped, "It's him." She tried to hide behind me but she's a lot taller and bigger than me and it didn't work very well. The Hostile Hippie said, "I'd do anything to be doing what your doing. I'd trade my cycling and my skiing and my hiking to be able to run again." He did sound a little gruff, but I think it's just the way he speaks. I smiled and said "I wish you could run, too. Then you could join us." To which he snorted and drove away.

He looked more like a school teacher or an accountant than a hippie. And he didn't seem all that hostile, just a little resentful that for some reason, he isn't able to run anymore. Mary claims he looks scarier when he's on foot, but who knows. The important thing is that all the talk about the hippie, and then our meeting with him, and then the analysis of the meeting took us to the end of Thorn Hill Road without ever even feeling it!

The last mile was another big climb up Dundee. By now we had checked our watches and were feeling good about how well we had covered ground today. As we climbed that last hill, Mary and I fantasized out loud about big come backs and fast races in our near futures. We do this to make each other laugh. I finally got her to laugh hard enough that she had to take a few walking steps by saying, "yes, I think this is the year we are both finally going to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials." It was just the break I needed so I could beat her to the top of the hill.

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