I’m a New England girl. It doesn’t matter that I haven’t lived in New England since I was 18, that I’m a resident of Illinois, or that I spent a year living in California, I’ll always be a New England girl. My friends roll their eyes when I bring it up, but I can trace my family tree all the way back to the Mayflower.

I’m a New England girl… but I’m a Midwestern runner.

Over Christmas I was excited to spend a week and a half in Massachusetts with my family, partially because I was excited to explore new running routes. I had forgotten, in my absence, about the hills. Oh, the hills. Hills that I used to walk up and down on my way home from school, hills that I would breeze down on my bike on long summer days became giant, terrible, STUPID mountains when I was faced with running up them on the second half of a long run.

I was used to the lovely, straight Sheridan road, with no bumps and very few curves—just one long stretch of pavement beckoning me forward. I was not used to running up two hills, down two hills, turning around and running up and down them again.

I would lie to encourage myself to keep going. “This is your first hill,” I would say, “you can walk the whole way home once you crest this one,” I told myself. But I’ve never been a good liar, and the thing about lying to yourself is that you know it’s a lie, so when you do crest that hill and you start to walk you know that you can’t walk the entire way home, and you have to start running again once you reach that doctor’s office because that’s what you promised you would do.

Running by yourself involves a lot of self-bribery, self-deceit, and motivational self-abuse—army general style. Sometimes all you can do is tell yourself you’re being a lazy bum and start running again. I ran three times during my week and a half-long stay in Massachusetts, twice alone and once with Zach and Elspeth (which involved much less self-deceit and self-bribery, but roughly the same amount of motivational self-abuse).

In the end I was happy to return home and reunite with the wonderful, flat, hill-free urban prairie that is Chicago.