The first pull felt awfully hard. Indeed. Really, really hard. Interesting to note that that feeling of hardness made me really really want to stop. It was dark. Cold. Lonely. The hill seemed steeper than before and my legs more tired than before. “This was easier a few weeks ago”, I pined. “Wow, if Signal Hill seems this tough, what’s it going to be like in Greenland,” I worried. Maybe I knew it was going to be a tough one when I put off pulling on Tuesday morning for lack of sleep. Wednesday afternoon, I took a pass to get a bit more class prep done. I knew I need to make Thursday’s pull happen or I might lose the week and I didn’t want that. So I pulled in the dark hour before sunrise and it was hard.
But like Dory in Finding Nemo, I just kept pulling. Dropped all expectations about breaking a pace record and set my sights only on getting to the top-however long it took. Kept putting one foot in front the of the other. Step by step, the tire and I climbed the hill. Just as the sun was rising bringing light to the day, the universe delivered a gift. His name was Joe. He had a mini-van and a curiosity to ask what I was at. And he and his dog, Sam, delivered me swiftly to the bottom of Temperance Street to pull up again.
The second pull seemed easier. Maybe I was warmed up. Maybe Joe’s kind words and delight at doing a good deed lifted me out of “tough mind,” as I’m coining it now. Not sure. What I know is… I hardly took a break on the way up, the tire wasn’t as loud on the pavement, and I enjoyed high five-ing Phil Alcock (a friend and personal trainer I’ve worked with) as he cruised on by. It all didn’t seem nearly as hard. Funny thing. The tire weighed the same. The pack weighed the same (ok-it was a few grams less because of the water ingested on the way up). The slope and distance were the same. Everything was the same except my mind. Good bye tough mind, hello “it’s not so bad mind.”
The third pull was easiest. That doesn’t really make sense since at that point I’d been working in heart rate zone four for nearly 2 hours but it was. Whatever fatigue and lactic acid had built up in my muscles was compensated by “It’s OK to work this hard mind” and a decent helping of endorphins. I spent much less time staring at the white line on the pavement and more time looking at my surroundings. I was in the moment of my environment instead of drowning in tough mind.
The hill remained the same. It is I that changes each time I climb it and the toughness of the climb is relative. Relative to my state of mind. There is a lojong slogan, “Be grateful to everyone.” It is a reminder to be grateful for opportunities to practice working with our minds/emotions. Indeed…I am.