Sunday, February 22, 2015

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

It was time for my weekly hike.  My husband had to work and my daughter spent the night at her grandparent's house.  Everyone else had other plans so it was just me and the puppy for today's adventure.  I was totally okay with that.  I was looking forward to being able to just be with myself and do what I wanted and see how I did.

I decided to do a trail I haven't done in over 2 years.  When I first met my friends Josh and Wendie we started doing hikes together.  They were, as they always are, supportive and encouraging with me as a I was struggling to make some big changes.  We did a hike that involved a long uphill with switchbacks to get to the top of Dimple Hill.  I was pretty sure I was going to die.  It was really hard for me and I struggled the entire way up that dam trail.  Everything hurt, my muscles were burning and I couldn't breath.  Every step was a struggle.

I haven't been on it since.

To be perfectly honest, I didn't want to feel that way again.

I was afraid.

Which is kind of silly when I really think about it because I didn't die going up that hill and I made it to the top which means I was successful.  But memory is a funny thing and every time I thought about that trail all I could think of was the struggle.

The last few weeks it has been bugging me.

I keep thinking about that dam hill.

I decided it was time to conquer the fear.

Today was a good day to do that since I was on my own.  I haven't really talked about this with anyone, not even my husband.  I actually didn't realize how much that hill had become a monster in my head until just recently.  Nothing really brought it up.  I didn't have a big "A ha" moment.  I just realized as I was planning where I wanted to go each week that I would avoid getting to Dimple using  Dan's Trail, because it was too hard.  Then I started thinking about all the really hard and steep trails I have done in the last three months.  That made me wonder if maybe Dan's Trail wasn't as bad as I remembered.

Since I had spent a few years avoiding this trail I wasn't absolutely sure where it was.  I knew the general direction that I needed to go and I figured that if I couldn't find it I could just retrace my steps and go back the way I came.

I was blessed with another amazing day.  It was cold and there was a big wind in the trees.  But the sky was blue and the sun was shining.
What a beautiful day!!  I worked on running on the downhills and walking on the uphills.  Even ran some uphills.  :-)

Somehow I missed the turn for Upper Dan's Trail.  But I managed to find the trail for Lower Dan's Trail.  That just meant I got a longer hike and more uphill.  Lower Dan's Trail was really pretty and I enjoyed being somewhere that I had never been before.  I also saw the trail that leads to Chip Ross Park.  I may have to do that sometime this summer.

The trail came out at a junction of road and trail and I found the entrance to Upper Dan's Trail.  I don't know how I missed it on the way down.  I was probably taking pictures or laughing at my dog.  She had a great time today playing with sticks and pine cones.

So now I'm on the trail that I remember.  I was a little apprehensive.  I had some struggles last week with the hills on my 10k trail run and had to keep stopping to rest.  I was worried that I would have to repeat that.  Then I laughed because who cares if I have to stop?  Nobody.  I'm all alone and if I need to stop and take a break then you know what?  I'm going to stop and take a break.

As I am walking up the trail I am thinking about he first (only) time that I went up this trail.  I was with people that I was just getting to know and already appreciating them greatly.  I was with my husband who has always supported me and believed in me.  I kept remembering how I felt that day two years ago and how miserable I was.

I kept waiting to be miserable.

It didn't happen.

I kept going.

I kept waiting for it to get bad.

It still didn't happen.

That got me thinking about what I have done the past two years to make the experience up this one hill be so drastically different.

Two years ago I was at my very heaviest that I have ever been.  I hadn't been running for a few months, and when I had been running I avoided hills like they were the plague.  Running was hard enough, why add more difficulty to it?

Today I am about 40 pounds lighter.  Not carrying that weight helps a great deal I am sure.  Because I made a decision to not run this school year while working and finishing grad school I have been focusing on weekly hikes.  I have gone on a hike every week since the middle of December.  A lot of them have been hard or long or hard and long.  There have been big steep hills on a lot of them.  And I did them all and had a great time.  Sometimes with big groups of friends and sometimes with just my husband or my daughter.  I was so down on myself about not running during the week that I didn't realize all that the weekly hikes were doing for me.

Today I felt strong.

I did stop about two thirds of the way up to use my inhaler but other than that I just kept moving and and a nice steady pace.  I wasn't running but I felt good.  It made me happy.

Then I started thinking about what I want to do when I'm done with grad school.  I found myself realizing some things that will affect how I exercise for awhile.  When I first started running I ran to feel better and I would challenge myself to run a little farther each time or run a little faster each time.  I enjoyed the feeling when I knew that I had done better than I had done the time before.

Training plans are important and I know I need to use them for some things I have in mind.  But for awhile I think I'm just going to run to run.  I'm going to enjoy the journey.  Stop and take pictures.  Be happy if I did better than the last time I did a particular hike or a particular route.  I'm going to continue to enjoy what I am doing.  In my efforts to push myself to certain goals, and then not reaching the goals in spite of the hard work I ended up making myself miserable.  I have a demanding job that has a lot of goals and deadlines that must be met.  I have been involved in grad school for the last year and a half that has also had a lot of deadlines and expectations.  I am enjoying my hiking because it is whatever I want and I do it however fast or slow I feel like.  No training plan.  No time expectations.  No pace expectations.  I'm just out and about and I'm moving.
The Bench
The first time I went up Dan's Trail I wanted to stop at this bench.  I mean just stop.  I really thought about sitting on that bench and just waiting for everyone to come back down and get me.  I didn't think I could make it to the top.  This is just a couple of switchbacks to the top.  I kept going that day and made it to the top of Dimple Hill.  

Today I got to that bench and I was fine.  I was not hurting and I was not miserable.  I was slow.  I was working on my breathing but my body was not screaming at me.  That is a GREAT feeling.  
Another beautiful day in the Mac Forest.
We sat on the bench at the top for pictures and a break.  We earned that rest.  :-)
Bailey felt I needed kisses.  She wasn't too interested in posing for a selfie.  :-)  
We headed down the hill and started down the road back to the car.  I decided to go on the road so that I could try and run the whole way.  It's about 2.5 miles and I did run, slowly, the entire way back to the car.  I was proud of myself because I was tired after all the uphills but I kept going.  I wasn't even worried about how slow I was going.  I was moving!  :-)
All tuckered out after our adventures.  
I'll be doing this again.  :-)
I found trails I have never done.  

I conquered trails that I had been avoiding because I was afraid.  

I remembered that often the things I fear are bigger in my mind than they are in reality.  

I remembered that I don't always have to be working on the next goal.  Sometimes I just need to enjoy the moment.  

It was a good day.  

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