Oh. God. My. Ass. Hurts. No, it’s not from falling down a hill on my rollerblades (been there, done that), or from a failed attempt at flopping on the couch (also been done). It’s from this:
We’ll backtrack a little bit. Greg’s parents own a summer house in Hesston, Pennsylvania. If you’re looking at a map and stick your finger right in the middle of Pennsylvania, and then you sneeze and your finger shifts about an inch south, you’re there. It’s a little piece of heaven that we normally frequent a few times a year (it’s a 5 hour trip from NYC), and it is the ONLY destination for Labor Day weekend. A few days on the boat, a good campfire in the backyard, and lots of fresh air is the perfect way to refresh and energize at the end of a long summer.
Normally, we head out on Friday night, but work required me to be in Hershey, PA on Thursday, so I elected to head out to Hesston right after work on Thursday afternoon. 4 day weekend, anyone? Excellent. This left me with all day Friday to entertain myself before the troops arrived for Labor Day duty on Friday night.
I’ve been diligent with my 5K training plan, and woke up early on Friday to get in my run before it got too warm. Now, in all the times I’ve been to Hesston, I never paid notice to the hills. As in, every-freaking-where you look. My 2.5 mile tempo run turned into a hamstring-burning, sweaty-beast-forming exhaustion fest, and I was thoroughly pooped by the end. However, after a shower and some breakfast, I got a second wind and started planning my day, post 10 am. Enter…
…the Thousand Steps. Located on Jack’s Mountain, just a 20 minute drive from the house, the Thousand Steps was built in 1936 to as a means of transportations for miners working high up in the quarries. Prior to construction, miners had to zigzag their way across the mountain so as not to fall down the steep incline, then back down again at the end of the day. (Remind me of this next time I complain about my commute.) The steps are constructed entirely of rocks found on the mountain and placed to form “steps” that reach 800 feet at their highest elevation. I’ve read that hiking the steps is the equivalent of a 1.5 hour strenuos workout on the stairmaster, and, never being one to turn down forms of exercise that don’t feel like exercise, I decided a hike would be a great way to spend my lonely Friday waiting for Greg and company.
I headed over to Jack’s mountain, a little nervous and extra prepared with water, a protein bar, my camera, and my phone. As I found my way to the trail, a little voice in my head (or maybe my hamstrings?) was saying, “You dope, you already ran your little heart out this morning. Go back to the porch swing. Get a book and some coffee. Forget this.” I thought, “Shut it, voice.” And off I went.
These are not your ordinary steps. There’s no plush carpet, even footing, or banister to help keep steady. The further you hike up the mountain, the steeper the steps get. This is literally no walk in the park. I made sure to sip on plenty of water and planned to take breaks if needed, but I’m proud to say that I soldiered on without any stops, less a few photo-ops of the beautiful foliage.
My legs were burning and my heart was pumping, but it was SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE GYM. I love taking advantage of challenging activites that don’t involve being chained to a cardio machine. Elliptical machine vs. strenuous hike? Hike always wins. You’ll never see me whipping out my camera to snap photos of the scenery at the gym. (Although there are some characters at our gym…save that for another post.)
The steps are a popular hiking trail for residents of Central Pennsylvania, and it’s easy to see why. As I made the 45 minute trek to the top, I was struck by the beauty of my surroundings and the absolute silence. No cars, no horns, no dogs barking….short of some crickets and the occasional bird, my hike was noiseless and wonderful. Though I’m not one for self-reflection (I’ve gotten kicked out of a yoga class for my lack of zen), I found myself thankful for my health and my body’s ability to take on this butt-kicking challenge. Way to go, Body. You rock.
Silly as it sounds, I’m really proud of myself for hiking those steps. On a day where I could have easily stayed in bed until noon and loafed around the house, I got off my butt, got moving, and felt like a million bucks.
I can’t wait to get out there again, hopefully with Greg. He’s never hiked the steps, and I know his Superman Running Legs will appreciate the challenge just like my Skinny Chicken Legs did. We probably won’t make the trip until October, but it should still be perfect hiking weather, and it’s worth the wait. This was just another reminder of why it always pays to get off your butt, get a little creative, and get moving…you might surprise yourself.
Anyway, that’s the reason I want to cry every time I sit down to pee.