The Hills of Life

*Note: Mondays and Fridays I will be doing my training runs before I go to the shelter for my Back on My Feet run (amazing organization – if you’re not in the know check out www.backonmyfeet.org) bright and early at 5 a.m. These runs will be in the suburbs, on the beautiful Valley Green trails, with my BOMF running buddy, SM. We’ve figured out that we beat the sun by getting there are 5 a.m. – watching the sun come out while running in the trees has been quite a treat!!

7.06.09

After a tough night sleep of tossing and turning, an early 4:30 a.m. alarm, and a detour route on the way to the 1st official training run I seemed to still find my pace and make it through the 1st 3 miles of my PDR journey – YAY! The route SM and I ended up taking was not easy this morning, but I’ve learned to embrace challenges this year, so I faced our hilly route head on. This new, hilly terrain of the suburbs is nothing like the flat, block by block path I am used to on my Philly city morning runs, but more a series of what seems like small mountains. And my not- so- in- running- shape-post-surgery body was not so happy with the hills (or the run to be quite honest) but my mind loved it!!

As I was pumping up what must have been mountain #16 (or really hill #7 – the exaggeration makes my legs feel a little better about the struggle) my legs were burning, breath getting heavy and body aching – it occurred to me that life is like a long run with a few hills throw in. You’re going along smoothly and out of nowhere life throws you a challenge (or hill). You’re never really ready for it and it seems unbearable at first. You have no idea how you’re going to get through it, and as you move through this challenge or “up the hill” it seems to get tougher and tougher to push forward. At some point you wonder, “Can I really make it through this? Could I possibly push anymore?”

Being in the heat of things always makes them feel worse then they are. I find myself questioning myself and my stamina when the challenge gets this tough and the answers just don’t seem to be lining up. What I’ve found is that just when you think the pain might be too unbearable, answers start to come or in my running case, you see the top of the hill. Given the glimpse of hope you somehow push to the peak. It hurts getting there – even though you can see it and solutions are coming – you know the happy ending, the “down hill glide” is close – it has to be. As you hit the peak and start your descend you feel the aches of what you just endured, but more then that you feel relief from the pressure you just put on yourself and your body and you can slightly smile because you got through it. By the time you’re at the bottom of the hill and you’re breath and cadence are slowly getting back to normal you exhale and realize that what you just went through, what just hurt like hell, really wasn’t that bad at all – or maybe it did hurt a lot, but it was so rewarding to get through it and you’re a little better of a person for having endured it. The pain was temporary and by enduring it you just allowed yourself to get a little stronger, a little faster and a little bolder – a little more confident.

Hill #16 reminded me of November 2008, December 2008, and January 2009 and how hard it was for me – the pain of surgery, the frustration of recovery and the heartache that went with all of it. At some points I thought I couldn’t push on. I questioned many times if it was too much for me to get through, but with the help of a lot of amazing friends and a small belief somewhere deep inside me that I could get through this I endured the difficult days, pushed through the fear, pain and sadness. I think I’m on the “decline” now. I pushing through “recovery” right off the peak of the hill and I am smiling because I got through the worst of it. I learned so much going through the pain – some of which I don’t think I’ve even realized yet. I’m pushing my body a little more everyday because I’m stronger, and boy oh boy, I can’t wait till I’m at the bottom of this hill looking up and saying thanks for the challenge, thanks for making me stronger – bring on mountain #17.

With Gratitude,
SFS

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