So this new running group I’ve been palling around with every Tuesday night has runs throughout the Virginia Beach area—sometimes, two or three runs in various places in a given day. Last night, I decided to meet the group for its 6:30 p.m. hill workout at Mount Trashmore, which is literally the only hill in town.
(By the way, Mount Trashmore isn’t a dis, but is the actual formal name of a park built around a 60-foot hill created by compacting layers of solid waste and clean soil. I love this about Virginia Beach—that it’s unpretentious enough to have a park named Mount Trashmore.).
I got there a little early, and was stunned to see literally dozens of runners waiting at the foot of the hill, none of whom I recognized from my Tuesday-night runs. There were moms with baby joggers, gray-haired guys stretching out, lanky-looking dudes wearing Newtons. The Newton dudes were bouncing on the balls of their feet, like caged jungle cats waiting to pounce on something. This was going to be interesting.
The hill consists of one short, steep slope and another long, gradual hill, and rather than running what I consider a hill workout, in which one sprints up a hill, then jogs/limps the flats or downhills, the group seemed to be running the loops at a somewhat consistent speed. The leaders (the Newton guys and a few others) were planning to do one warmup lap around the lake, then do six or seven hill loops, each one a little more than a third of a mile. I haven’t really run hills since moving to Virginia Beach (most of my workout time in D.C. so far has been spent skiing the hills, not running them), and my quads and lungs reminded me of that fact fairly quickly.
After the first lap, I fell in with some very chatty women about my age. I’m not one of those people who detests chatting while running in all instances. But in this particular instance, I sort of needed to just put my head down and push through it. I probably should have fallen back a little, claiming exhaustion (certainly the case) or a nagging pain. Instead, I wheezed out responses (“Ima freelancewriter. Healthandfitness. Yeah. Izzz fun. Heh.”), and tried to turn questions back to them as soon as possible (“Whaddyou do?”).
I stopped after about four laps, per my plan. A group member waiting at the top of the last hill gave me a high-five. Then, this conversation happened. And like Kim Kardashian declaring she’d like to run for mayor of her hometown, Glendale, I am not making this up:
Him, grinning: You should look at what you’ve got on your shoulder.
Me, noting the giant booger smeared on my Brooks half-zip: Ha! That’s awesome.
Him: Don’t congratulate me. I didn’t do it!
Me: Nope. Just congratulating myself. That’s a good one.
Him: (Silence as he waits for me to do something about it).
Me: Welp, see you next time!
I tried, kids. And actually, it wasn’t too bad for my first time. I’d certainly go back again, but might tailor the workout to more of what I was looking for: Hill sprints, followed by downhill jog/limps. Maybe while wearing headphones, so I can wheeze and blow snot-rockets to my heart’s content, and maybe with plans to stick around and chat post-run. Maybe also with plans to change into a clean shirt.