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Hills for Breakfast

It was 5:15 in the morning and I was getting in my car, still only half awake though the part of me that was awake was a bit nervous.

I was off to meet my friend Sue and her friend Joe (and his dog Kea) for an easy four-mile run at Chestnut Ridge Park. And I realize the terms "easy" and "Chestnut Ridge" don't really go together. I was going to have to tackle some hills for the first time.

In the darkness of the autumn morning I had a fitness flashback to my childhood where I would get up at some awfully early time to watch (and participate) in the television show Morning Stretch hosted by fitness guru Joannie Greggains. I found she's still helping women across the country get fit and make exercise part of their daily lives, particularly the over-30 set as a contributor to the site Smart Now. And when champion long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad is part of the site, well, I'm in for checking out health and fitness advice.

Back at Chestnut Ridge, I start out for the easy run, without my own flashlight or headlight, and promptly trip myself up. I fall hard on my right side, but since it's cold out my body is completely covered with winter running gear. No brush bruns this time. And no other damage that I can ascertain.

We have a series of small hills and gradual inclines which occasionally make us all agree to slow down the pace. Then we get to the hill nicknamed "Mother." Sue, who just ran a half marathon the day before, jaunts up it with no problem. Joe and I huff and puff our way up it. I have no idea if what I'm doing actually would be regarded as true "running" but I keep going and make it to the top.

I get home and the sun is just starting to rise and frankly, between the very, very early morning hour and the hill workout, I feel I need to take a siesta at lunch time.

Hill workouts aren't officially part of my training just yet, but I'm already confident that it will help me in January when I'm running the Miami half marathon.

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