Sunday, September 11, 2011

How It Works

This morning I went for a bike ride, something I haven't done in a long time. I started out at Creve Coeur Lake park, but the path around the lake was clogged by people strolling along (sometimes 4 or more shoulder to shoulder...). So, I took the offshoot trail that follows the Page extension out to the Katy Trail. Other than the grasshoppers the size of chihuahuas, it was an amazing ride. When I got to the parking lot for the Katy Trail, I thought about turning around and heading back, but it was such a beautiful day that I wanted to keep going. That meant heading down the steep hill to the trail and riding there. No biggie...Coming back up the steep hill would be another story. I made it up last summer, but last summer I was living in the body of a marathon training fitness fool. This summer, I'm somewhere south of there. Could I do it?

For lack of photographic evidence, see my Garmin elevation map...The two spikes were going down the hill and coming back up.

I worried about it the whole ride out, making sure not to go too far that my legs would be too tired to carry me back to the lake afterwards. I rode a couple of miles out and then turned back. When I arrived back at the hill, I shifted gears and started peddling with purpose, I made it up the first switch back easily. I managed the second, even though I had to slow down significantly for a family with small children weaving between lanes. The third rise towered above me...and I made it to the top without getting off to walk. At the parking lot, I paused for a second to drink some water and let my hammering heart catch up. I had done it.

On the ride back to my car, I thought about how succeeding at something hard makes all the other difficult things in a day seem possible. It's strange that the euphoria of a physical feat transfers to easily to other areas of life. But, for me it does. That's why I run. It can be a marathon or thirty minutes around the neighborhood. Pushing myself and conquering the miles, hills, tired legs, reminds me that other obstacles are manageable too.

Do one difficult thing every day. You might not succeed every time, but each time you'll get closer to your goal, and on the days you do succeed, you'll realize that the improbable, the impossible, has become your reality.