My family moved to Bath, Ohio, in the Spring of 2007.
It's a small country town about 15 miles out of Akron. There are no cell-phone towers, no commercial eateries, no McDonalds and no strip shopping centers. All in all, it's a fairly quiet town with a great view of the stars every single night.
And, if you can dodge cars speeding 70 MPH through the countryside, it’s also runner’s paradise.
From the Cuyahoga Falls National Park to the Bath Nature Preserve to a local track at Revere High School (for night runs) and O'Neill Woods, the place is virtually designed for cross-country runners.
But what gets me really, really excited about running in Bath ... are the hills.
Ask any track and field/cross country runner and they'll tell you that If you want to lose weight, get conditioned and gain endurance, you should incorporate hills into your weekly running regimen.
Althought I have no facts to back this up, it's been said that former Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton ran steps and hills as his primary workout. Sure, he's dead. But, before meeting his make, he broke a ton of records in the NFL. So, I say if it's good enough for a Hall of Fame running back, it's good enough for me.
I finally got to head out onto the open highway and tackle my first Bath hill in March of 2007.
After lacing up my Asics running shoes, taking a shot of my inhaler and stretching, I walked out of my driveway and hit the pavement with full gusto.
About 100 yards into my run I careened a half-mile downhill. I then proceeded to run a half-mile on a paved road to Moore's Chapel cemetery. I proceeded to run the 1/4-mile loop of the cemetary - all the while being cheered on by Bath's previous living - then I hightailed it back home.
All in all, I was about a mile and a half away from the crib. Three miles in all.
However, stopping me from a fresh glass of water, and an after-run beer, was the initial 1/2 mile hill I had so effortlessly ran down.
As I approached the 70-degree hill, I slowed my jog, took a deep breath.
Like an extra from the movie Braveheart, I let out a battle scream and attacked the hill like a man possessed. Huffing and puffing. Huffing and puffing. I felt like the little engine that could. Chugga. Chugga. Chugga. Chugga. "I think I can. I think I can. I think I can."
More importantly, I could feel the blubber in my stomach pound back and forth and virtually burn away with each foot-stomp to the ground.
My breathing deepened. My legs started to burn. I was fatigued. I was almost to the top.
Hill - 1
Eimer - 0
I just got my ass kicked by a hill.
Breathing like a porno star after a two-hour sex session, I walked the rest of the way. However, as punishment to myself for not succeeding, I added another half-mile to my run at the top. It was a win-win situation. Or, depending on how you look at it, a lose-lose situation.
Barring a nuclear bomb leveling Bath - I knew that damn, dirty hill was going to be there tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. So, sooner or later, I knew I was going to kick its ass. And I've done that on multiple occasions.
Now, after a summer of tackling the hills of Bath, I make it to the top about 85% of the time. Not too bad considering my runs have been limited to about 2-3 miles every other day.
As I brace for a winter of 'not-alot-of-running' due to two kids under two years old, nasty Northeast Ohio weather and Day Light Savings Time, I expect I'll have a similar experience next Spring.
But you can count on me to be in tip-top thong shape before the pools open on Memorial Day 2008.