On my regular road running route there’s a long steep hill at the very end. It’s on a straight section of road, so I can see the hill coming about a half mile before I get there. Every time it looks intimidating.
I’ve built up quite a relationship with the hill over the years. Sometimes I say, "Heck yeah, I’m going to conquer this thing." And other days, especially lately, it feels more like it’s going to conquer me. I had some setbacks on my own personal running journey earlier this year. I’m in a rebuilding phase now, and the hill is just plain tough. Truly the proverbial uphill battle.
Recently, I thought about how I could end my run early and walk it. Then I thought about what I set out to achieve in that run. I knew it was a reasonable goal and important for my overall progress. But it didn’t feel good and it didn’t come easy. So I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, reminding myself to breathe into it. "Drop your shoulders and relax your wrists," I told myself. Drive your elbows back. Lift your knees. Carry your foot back. Do the next right thing you know you need to do.
Then it occurred to me. This is the same hill that creates the highest point in this area. From the top of this ridge, about a quarter-mile south, you can see all the way to the mountains in the Olympic National Park. If it weren’t for this hill I’d never get to see that jaw-dropping view. It’s only because you have to go up so far that you can take in the vast beauty around you. This hill is an opportunity to appreciate majesty. I began to see it as an opportunity to shift my mindset and reset my focus toward gratitude. Hard things have a way of offering great challenge and great opportunity. Just like any good relationship.