Love the hills

blog1Hills are our friends. I say this as a Dutch boy from the flattest of lands. Run up a hill and feel the burn; then learn to do it while keeping your breathing under control. Ride up and push past the pain while the sweat drops on your handlebars. The effects are amazing.

I first learned that on the hills of Central Park when running truly grabbed me, circa 2009. Speedwork with the great coach Toby Tanser on the Harlem Hills made me a  better runner. And we still became friends.

My new home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Feliz was, in part, a choice for hills. The easternmost edge of the Santa Monica Mountains are just up the street. I look out at Griffith Park, where scenes of hundreds of films and television shows are shot every year. The entry to the park is half a mile away. From there, it is a 23-minute hard run, a 11-minute tough ride to the Observatory, a magical place with striking views, which I explored for the first time Saturday.

Running has been a challenge lately with some tedious injuries, so I have been exploring the new neighborhood on two wheels. A perfect day (when isn’t it here,?) brought cool weather and some clouds today. I worked my way up past the level of the Hollywood sign, which I didn’t know was possible on a paved road. A hard, cool workout. Then I reached the top and dropped down on the east side of the Griffith hills, a downhill that demanded full focus. The roads here have been closed to cars for years, and clearly road maintenance is not the top priority.

In Royce Canyon I stopped to drink, watch some hard-core LAPD  runners train, and randomly meet a cyclist named Neil from England. We headed back up the hill together, where I noticed that his professional gear was no facade. He pedaled up fairly easily while I pushed, then he flew down toward Los Feliz fearlessly. I lagged behind, my hands on the breaks as I learned the roads.

A perfect 90-minute workout in my front yard. Pretty nice.

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