And it starts at 6 a.m.
Yep. And because I have to drive there, I have to be out the door at 5:40. I was really excited about this new endeavor...until the night before! The four days previous have been crazy-busy, even for me. We had the three-day church yard sale, which got me up at 5 and kept me running on my feet for 10 hours each day only to rush home and go to work until 10:30 at night. Then I had a wedding to coordinate and decorate for immediately after church on Sunday, and it was at the beach, so I had all the gear to load into the car, then the set up and take down, and hauling everything home. I actually had a blast doing that, though, so no complaints. But I have to say that by Sunday night I was pretty tired. I was losing my voice and my eyes felt very heavy. I wearily climbed into bed and fell fast asleep...for an hour, when Jeff came to bed. Then I continued to wake almost every hour through the night because I was afraid I would over-sleep and miss the Lifegroup or be late to pick up my friends. Finally, it was 5:30 and I hauled my stiff body out of bed and pulled on my running clothes. The sky was a dismal, dreary gray and the morning quite cool, which made it that much harder to muster up some energy. Still, we kept up some lively girl-talk on the drive up the mountain and arrived in pretty good spirits. Then it was time to run.
When I was a teenager, I lived up here and had a whole string of friends who lived on this stretch of country road. We walked up and down the steep hill hundreds of times going to each other's houses, so I knew it was a pretty intense climb, but I figured I could jog it because I regularly run 2 to 3 miles a few times a week. I underestimated.
I started at a very moderate pace, just slow and easy going straight up...and up....and up....and up. It was so steep I was running on my tip-toes, sort of like climbing stairs. I was huffing good and hard but staying steady. Then I started feeling queasy... Almost there, keep pushing. A wave of nausea swept over my stomach, tightening my throat. I pushed a little further and then felt totally sick and weak, even my arms. I immediately dropped down to a walk. Too much, too soon. I was basically straight out of bed other than the 20-minute car ride, I hadn't eaten, I was exhausted from four days of intense activity and little sleep, and I started running straight up that very steep hill without any form of warm-up at all. My mouth filled with saliva and I am ashamed to say I had to lean over the bushes on the side of the road and spit. This is not how I pictured my new Lifegroup!
So I walked up the rest of the hill and then walked another smaller hill until I felt my stomach calm down. Finally, I felt strong enough to finish jogging one last small hill and then turned and ran all the way back down to the bottom. By then I was okay and could enjoy everything I love about the mountain...I love the very air there, pure and sweet and woodsy. I love the view of other mountains beyond and valleys tucked in between, the orchards, vineyards and berry fields along the sides of the road, the gardens and flowers, the horses, deer and birds, the pretty houses perched on the tops of the hills and the tiny houses hidden deep in the tall, dark trees. This place makes me feel alive!
By the time I reached the bottom of the hill, a few drops of rain began to fall. Inside the barn was a little room prepared for us. It used to be two horse stalls, but now there was sturdy rubber flooring and the walls were white-washed on one side and painted barn-red on the other. There was a couch with cozy throw blankets and a wooden table in the middle of the room wearing a burlap tablecloth and bearing croissants and bowls of cherries, strawberries, bananas and oranges. We gathered together, turned on the heat and draped the soft plaid blankets over our laps, and began our Bible study as the rain suddenly came down heavy on the barn's metal roof, beating out a beat in a soothing rhythm. The horses neighed, the donkey brayed, and the ladies prayed! What a beautiful time together. What a great way to start the day!