Two summers ago, I was bitten by the "I want to be someone else" bug. I'd just turned 36, and one failed, childless marriage notched on the bedpost had not done much to improve my already faltering self-image. Attempting to convince myself that my fate was not artificially ruled by nature, I decided to train for my first marathon.
Initially, my training was not the empowering experience I had envisioned. Helen Reddy was wrong: Although woman, I was neither strong nor invincible—quite the opposite in fact. I didn't get in touch with the "real me," nor did I learn how to conquer my particular demons. However, I did learn one thing, namely, that I hated hills. My running partner told me to look at them as challenges—to relish feeling my quads and glutes strengthen—to revel in the burn. It didn't work.
I grew to despise all climbs, no matter how minor. For me, the only positive change in elevation was a negative one. I began psyching myself out whenever I encountered the slightest ascension. I dreaded every roll I saw, and anticipated—even magnified—the potential pain. Eventually, I got to the point where I would begin walking a hill even before I got to it.