Jogging addicts have an interesting trait. Wherever they go, the first thing they usually search for is a location to jog. At least that's true about me. Actually it's a nuisance sometimes, much like smokers who run out of cigarettes when they travel and they need to search for a store that can hook them up with their next fix. On a recent business trip to San Diego, I had to use the treadmills in the hotel gym and it's not always easy to find a free one to jump on. I ended up asking the locals and they pointed me to a decent boardwalk by the water.
But one of the locations I've been wanting to try is the neighborhood where my daughter's ballet school is located. After nearly two years of driving her to the school in the next town over, I decided to give that area a try today. Before driving her to the school, I surfed on to Google Maps to get an idea of the nearby roads and discovered a perfect loop to run on. Next I jumped on one of my own pages on this site to get an idea about the distances involved. Doing some rough calculations, I arrived at a total distance of approximately 5 miles. Perfectly reasonable, given my time limit of about an hour. I memorized some of the road names and after dropping her off at the ballet school I was off and running.
Soon I realized a big miscalculation in my investigative method. Google Maps (and other online maps) is great for driving directions, but they are not topographical and that makes a big difference when you are operating on your own power. Serves me right for not paying closer attention to the road names. Just about every road had the word "hill" appended to it. Let's take a sample: Indian Hill Road, Pipers Hill Road, Teapot Hill Road, Mallory Hill Road, Dumplin Hill Road, and Nod Hill Road. At least there was one exception, Mountain Road!
I can’t remember the last time I ran on so many roads whose names ended in Hill. And hills there were, some covering long inclined stretches. To add more adventure to my course, I was lost a couple of times adding more distance to my already grueling course. There was no chance to slow to a walk and catch my breath. I had to be at the school on time and to make matters worse I had no track of time as I don't even have a watch.
Thankfully I eventually found the way and made it back to school with a few minutes left to spare. I was able to complete the course (later on, going back in the car, I clocked it at 7.5 miles) and I came out of it relatively unscathed, save a little leg muscle pain.
Lessons to learn: Don't assume the new area you have chosen to run in would be flat. There is considerable difference between running on a flat course and running on a hilly one. And, when you map out your new course, pay more attention to the road names and the directions to follow. Of course, knowing myself, I won't learn a thing from all this, other than having a new appreciation for the term "uphill battle".