If I close my eyes, I can see myself at the end of our driveway.
It is just before dusk. We are stretching our legs, getting ready. The sky is tinged with pink as the sun sinks behind the trees. The air is still. As we turn east to jog down the hill I can hear the gravel as it kicks up from behind our shoes. I keep my eyes on the row of pines that line the road: majestic, fencing in the woods.
After about a quarter of a mile, for a few moments, we can see Lake Chautauqua stretching out in both directions, deep blue water surrounded by leafy green. As we descend the hill, it will disappear from our view.
The downhill should be easy, but it’s not. The hill is steep, and we have to hold back.
When we reach the bottom and turn around, I want to stop and walk the uphill. The grade is about 15%, and I have to summon all my strength to keep a steady jog back up. Within moments, Eric runs ahead and I all can hear is the sound of my own panting and the gravel, still grinding underfoot.
This run of ours, the evening challenge, as we like to call it, is only two miles, so it is over quickly. Wiping the sweat from our brows, we walk again to the crest of the hill to cool down, catch our breath, see the lake. The view is a great reward.
It has been years since I ran that route. We moved away from Bly Hill Road over seven years ago; our city neighborhood is a flat grid of streets and holds no comparable test.
If I close my eyes, I can see myself at the end of our driveway. Dusk is settling into the hills. I can feel cool air sneaking in with the darkness. The run is complete.
Whenever I face a difficult task, I remember the hill. I remember that even through the pain, the run was worth it. Mostly, I remember the satisfaction and good feeling that comes from pushing through even— especially — when something is hard.
This was originally posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk and is re-posted with permission.