Thursday, February 17, 2011

On Climbing

"This is going to f*$#ing suck," I can't help but say under my breath as I set eyes on the mountain before me.

Running up hills has never been something that I embrace or particularly enjoy, but it's an integral part of this race that I keep signing up for year after year.  The Flying Pig is known for being one of the hilliest marathons in the country, and learning to master elevation gains can be one of the trickiest parts of distance running.  You have to know when to push hard and when to hold back; when to conserve energy and when to give it all you've got.  On this morning's hilly 4-mile run, I took some time to really think about how the last big hill felt:

I'm nearly 3 miles in, and I feel so good right now.  I'm at the top of the second-to-last hill and I still have so much more gas in the tank. When I ran this same loop this summer, I was hurting by this point, and today I feel strong. Each stride feels confident, secure.  I'm not wobbly or shaky, even after 14 miles, two Zumba classes and weight training this week.  I'm coming down that hill now and I can feel myself using the decline to gather energy for the last hill, which is the biggest.

I start to ascend again and feel my muscles shift into gear to adapt.  My lungs get a little tighter and my calves are burning.  It's chilly and a bit windy this morning, but I take the sleeve of my pullover and wipe the cold sweat off my forehead.  I feel another shift in my muscles as the incline get steeper, and now I feel as though something is pushing against me, holding me back.  I fight it, and somewhere inside is a little voice in my head telling me to stop and walk, but I won't listen to it.  I'm halfway up the hill now, and I kick into yet another gear.  Maybe it's my determination, maybe it's my training, maybe it's because I'm so close to the top, but it doesn't hurt anymore.  And then, there I am.  I did it; I climbed the hill.  I glance back and see what I've just conquered and I am proud.  Proud and tired, but proud nonetheless.

I think this may sound a little like a Miley Cyrus song (gag), but running up a hill really isn't about getting to the top.  It's about how you cope with your struggle during your climb.

Today I'd like for all of you to think about where you are in your own hill. Are you at the bottom of it still?  Somewhere in the middle?  Reaching the top?  We often get too busy trying to get to the top of the hill and mountains in our lives to look around and see the beauty in the journey.


Lauren said...

Hey props to you for making it! I am not sure about where I am in my own hill, but the message of perseverance in your post is a great one we can all keep in mind- how many times do we start to "climb the hill" only to give up and go back down?

Gabrielle@Weightless said...

Thanks Lauren! Keep climbing! :-)