Mary Eggers


Seven hills of hell

As I was running I could see it coming, the transition of the weather. It was Saturday, the day we went from summer to winter in the course of 12 hours. I don’t dread those transitions, I welcome them. I planned my long run for that window. During those 90 minutes I could see the clouds rolling in, the wind kicked up and the temperature dropped about 40 degrees.

For some reason, I love those kinds of runs.

I ran a route I named “the seven hills of hell“, which is several miles of relentless hills (obviously). It takes me past a farm I have been running by for years. At the top of the hill next to that farm is a light pole. No matter what I always stop there for a good minute, and I just look. From there I can see the city of Rochester behind sprawling green farmlands. Actually, in autumn it’s a rainbow of colors. I never…. EVER pass that moment up. If I ever did a race on this route, I would still stop.

There are two big beautiful sheep dogs, and through the years I have run this route, they come to the fence barking each time. I call to them every time, I feel like we are old friends. I have been running this route a long long time, and well, you see things on runs. You see people. Like the guy who wears the shirt that says “no directions”, or Richard who runs with a stick. Today I saw a father raking leaves into a huge pile his two daughters were playing in and a little girl sitting on her daddy’s tractor while she watched him rake. She sang “you are my sunshine” in such a beautiful little voice that it became a strong contrast to the weather rolling in.

I like the transitions of weather like that, because it’s a reminder that life is fluid. It changes. It’s never the same. I think of all the things I have been through in this life… thus far…. and I think about how sport has been my constant. Regardless of what is happening I can open the door and move in some way, and life gets processed.

Grief and loss have followed me for many years, in several different forms. When I can be outside and move, it helps me heal holes in my heart that can never heal. It helps me feel around their edges, bask in their depth, and allow myself to continue to move through things. You can only move through things, you can never get over them.

The transition of the weather reminds me of the transitions of life. They aren’t always easy and they aren’t always pretty. Sometimes they roll in like thunder chasing the wind (reference from my favorite LIVE song). I want to always run towards them and not away from them. I like to face them head on rather than create the story of what I think they mean or think they should be. So I will take the opportunity¬†to do that with something as simple as the weather to work that experience.

As I ran I felt the whole reason I do all of this come to the surface again. All of this allows me to explore and to practice life and to feel my thoughts in a better place than laying on the couch. When I am in motion the business of life slows down, falls down to the road, I get to … I get to … just be. For a while at least.

With the temperature dropping my dreams turned to winter. Strapping skis on my feet and flying through the air with giant snowflakes melting on my ski goggles. No longer do I limit myself, I am in search of experiences that allow me to experience the world in full color.

A friend recently commended me for my love of all seasons, I felt happy that was his perception of me. It’s how I really feel. With different seasons comes new. We get to see the process of loss and of rebirth over and over and over again. The biting cold helps me feel alive and reminds me that with the right gear I can withstand anything thrown at me. Hot or cold, it doesn’t matter, there is beauty in everything and there are also lessons in everything.

Gosh, that’s so like life isn’t it?

There have been times the seven hills of hell have broken me. There are times I have broken the seven hills of hell. There are times like now, where we are working together, not to claim an athletic past but to build the future in a more beautiful meaningful way. I have run this route 200 times, at least. Each time I am taught. Each time I learn. When the lessons stop, then I can stop. Therefore, I will be going forever.

This morning I woke to a winter wonderland. I fondly kissed sumer goodbye on Saturday, and today I found myself skiing and snowshoeing the trails. Blazing the trail, I was the first one out there this season.

I like to blaze trails. I like to be the first to slice through the snow. I like to take the dare and do what I was never suppoused to do.

Gosh, that’s so like life…. isn’t it?