Nature’s Gym

This morning I took the dogs to Tarrywile (a 700 acre nature preserve in my hometown) for a trail run. It was crisp and we started off cold and slow.

I’ve been spending enough time at the gym lately for my body to remember and appreciate regular exercise. Once we got going on the trail the joy of it started to click. The thigh workout felt like a warm blanket instead of an achy burn. The chilly air invigorated my lungs rather than exhaust them.

We had been jogging around the woods for about 30 minutes when we came upon an off-shoot trail – a steep shot up followed by a long meandering wrap down around the back of the hill. As much as I wanted to take it, I knew we didn’t have time to complete it before my afternoon plans. But rather than pass it up all together I decided to run up the hill, turn around at the top and come straight back down to finish the shorter trail we were on.

I went for it and for the first time since I trained for the Honolulu Triathlon back in 2013, I felt the fire within me. I tapped into the desire to push myself farther and to try harder.

It was great for a minute but here’s the whole truth: I didn’t actually run up the hill. It was a mix of jogging and hiking that quickly slowed to a crawl. And the reality is I only made it 2/3 of the way up before getting too winded to continue.

It was time to choose an option: A) I could berate myself for not cresting the top like a champion. B) I could choose to be completely satisfied with the effort.

I went with B. This is just the beginning of training after all. The beauty is that I wanted to try and I did.

With a smile on my face I turned around to take in the wintry view through the starkly empty trees as I caught my breath. Just then a herd of deer ran by us, right down below where we had started, an exhilarating reward for the climb. They wouldn’t have run past if the dogs and I were still at the bottom of the hill. They would have stayed in hiding until we were long gone. But from our elevated perch we were both gone and still able to witness their stunning beauty as they galloped past.

And so there I had it: the first tiny miracle of this latest adventure. Which reminds me… I’m supposed to be studying A Course in Miracles

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