|The Payoff (pic courtesy of Paul Jesse)|
The climb isn't super steep or crazy long, it's just a grind. It's a climb that I can do without taking a walk break, but only if I don't push too hard at the bottom. It's my favorite climb, and I know every turn by now, I know there will be some shade at the bottom, and I know that the initial steep section lasts a quarter of a mile. It flattens out a little bit, then the rocky switchbacks start and there is no more shade and it gets steep again. I know where the two false tops are and even though I know they are there and that there is still some climbing to be done, I still have this faint glimmer of hope that the false top that I have crossed hundreds of times is the real top, as stupid as that sounds, and there is still some disappointment when I turn the corner and see more hill. I've started the past six years with this climb, and I am lucky enough to share it with friends and family in what started out as just a couple of us attempting to hold down the food and drink consumed during the previous night of New Year's Eve partying and sweat out the poisons with the most amazing hangover cure of replacing suffering with greater suffering. The rolling trails after the initial climb as well as the views at the top with frequent re-grouping stops along the way are just icing on the cake.
The New Year's Day run is always one of my favorite runs of the year and I get to re-connect with people that I have shared trails with in the past and run with those that I am lucky enough to run with on a regular basis. My favorite part of this run is the variety of people that it draws. This year my family made up a large contingent of the group and it was so amazing to see my nieces, nephews, and the rest of my family make the climb to start off the new year.
Some came and hiked, some road runners training for their next Boston qualifiers and sporting marathon times in the mid-2 hour range braved the rocks, roots, twists and turns of the trails, and couldn't quite figure out why the rest of us kept stopping. There were a few that started a couple hours early to get more than the 6-8 miles in, and some that hiked up half a mile, then looped back to the cool waters of the creek, but everyone from the elite ultrarunners to the youngest kids shared the same joy of being outside, taking part in the struggle, the views at the top, and the friendships that are renewed and solidified on the trails, and I can't think of a better way to start the year.
Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year.