So, for a while now, life has been throwing me curve balls. I mean, where do I begin? Mysterious physical symptoms that nearly made me lose my mind (now handled, thank you), battling an insurance company to cover life changing medical procedures for my younger daughter that were deemed “experimental”, and readying my older daughter to leave for college – wasn’t it only yesterday I was pushing that toddler in the jogging stroller around the lake?

How to deal without falling apart? Me – I’m running hills.

That makes sense doesn’t it? We runners work it out on the roads. And, given my theory that there are no metaphors in life, hills really are what life is about – ups, downs, challenges, triumphs. I cope with it all by moving my legs. What are we going to do as runners – sit and wait for the race to be over?

Do not get me wrong: most of the time, the thought of hill repeats sickens, terrifies and exhausts me before I even lace up. But, I have learned that the muscles we do not work come back to haunt us – in the form of injury usually (my thing is hip pain; yours?). To change inside, we have to change the terrain outside. Majestic mountains, welcome to my world.

Hills are hard. Really hard.

Hills are harder when you avoid climbing them, so you have to get out there and climb them no matter how you feel.

Hills make you stronger the more you run them.

Hills are humbling.

And that is life right there, isn’t it? How many trials have nearly broken us, but in the end made us stronger? How many times have we thought, “I just cannot do this” – then we do it, and we come out amazed at what we are made of. How many times have we stumbled and kept going – and learned more from that than the easy win? Life on some days may feel like an endless loop of the 25th mile of a marathon. But we do what runners do in mile 25 – we move.

I come back from hill workouts pretty impressed with myself, but humbled nonetheless. And, I have found, humble is a good place to start from when the battle comes a knocking. Prepare, prepare, prepare – absolutely, stick to that training schedule – but remember that humanity dictates there will be surprises along the way: the unplanned trip to the ER, the pothole that causes the fall, anxiety-induced insomnia the day before the race. Been through it all, have the scars to prove it. You have as well. And you’re still climbing, aren’t you? Yep, I am too.

So, give me the hills. If I can make it up those rocky roads, then I can conquer life’s peaks as well.