I ran for a bit yesterday to clear my head of a rather fast paced, rough week. It was a fantastic, easy run. I didn't know how far I was going to go when I set out, where I was going to run, or really have any plan. Then, it hit me, I was going to go on an easy run with a challenging finish.
The graph here is pace over layer elevation...that green blob the challenge. I hit this at about 4.5 miles, and then proceeded to gain around 170 feet over the next half mile (I think it is 6.5 percent grade, but i know it is very steep!).
The green blob is a hill I've always decided to walk, primarily because it is absolutely horrible. As I started towards the hill at the beginning of my run, I only planned to run to the crest and turn around, so I could avoid it. Then, as I reached the crest, I decided it was powerless over me and I was going to conquer the hill that day (I've never ran the whole thing).
As I began down it, I went back and forth about lowering my pace to save energy for the eventual return up the hill. I had about 3 miles before I returned to the hill and continued charging ahead as the hill became a distant past, the return trip forgotten about as I lost myself in the beauty of the day...that is until just before I needed to conquer it.
That is when a slight panic settled in, it is a large hill! Did I have the energy, was I prepared, will I make it? Self-doubt began to settle in... I've never done this hill before. It has pummeled me time and time again. I've purposefully avoided it as one carefully avoids failure.
Then, I began to break it down, I looked at my heart rate, I was in a very comfortable zone. I looked at the hill, the entirety of what I could see, and began to mentally break it down. I'm at about 4.5 miles and there is a smaller part of the hill that plateaus around the 5 mile mark (judging by the telephone poles). Then there is a small flat portion that will give me a quick opportunity to catch my breath. There after, just keep moving, no walking, no matter how slow I get.
Confidence began to come over me, everything was going to plan! I made it to the 5 mile mark and I was in the last mile...though this mile is not the "familiar mile", I still rejoiced there was not much left. Short break and then I began up the most difficult part of my journey, a quarter mile of pure hell! My legs are burning, I'm not certain if I have lungs anymore and, if I do, I dont have anything left in the tank.
Every step became difficult, every breath labored, and every thought dark. It begins to seep in, slowly at first and then a flood of negativity. "You can't do it", "you're too old", "you're too weak", "you've had a good run, you can throw the towel in" and I almost believed them; I almost gave in! I'm not certain if I would still be writing this if I did not make it, if I have gave in. Perhaps I would but the message would definitely be different!
It was in this moment of negativity and Self-doubt that I reached out to grab any thought that would keep me going and then I found it. Aaron (my daughter's boyfriend's step-dad) was there, at the top of the hill, with the farmer planning on what trees he was going to take down. I am almost there and if something bad happens, I have assistance close by. Self-preservation isn't an issue because I would only need to call out. I seen him on my way down and waved, he will be expecting me.
So there I was, an empty tank, drastically slowed, but still fighting! I reached the top, gasping, choking for air but I remained vertical and like that, my pace picked up, I quickly recovered and I was driven by excitement of the inhuman feet i just completed. I felt like superman just then, even if he could fly and I can't.
You see, while this run was real, it is also representative of My Quit! I've set out not knowing where I was going, and once I decided on a path I knew it wouldn't be easy. I settled into the moment and only concentrated on what I could control in the moment. Eventually, a rough part of the road presented itself and I only looked to the crest... just get to the hump and you'll be fine. I didn't even mention after the crest; I was high on my success, so high that the rest of the journey was completed with ease. There were more hills, they just didn't seem significant anymore!
When things got tough, I had a plan. I had accountability. Had it not been for Aaron, or in the case of my quit journey, all of you, I probably would've failed! Even as doubt crept in and darkness surrounded me, I looked hard for the flicker of the candle. It may be a dull light, but it is bright if you look directly at it!
When you hit your darkest moments, find your candle!