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This is Patterson Pass, a winding road that connects Tracy with Livermore, California. It snakes through windmill farms and dry pasture, often narrowing to just one lane, and the view from the peak is incredible. It’s kind of like those desolate roads you see in halftime commercials, where the luxury sportscar whooshes by, stirring up a pile of leaves in its wake.
After running the 2-mile “one tree hill” last weekend, I decided to take on this 7 mile run on Patterson Pass this morning. It took me 45 minutes to go steadily uphill. 30 minutes to turn around and go back down. What was I thinking?! I’ll tell you exactly what I was thinking. I told myself to keep running no matter what; no matter how short my steps became; no matter how much I had to lean uphill; no matter how much I thought my knees and calves were straining, I was not going to stop.
The giant windmills with their huge propeller blades were still today – like silent sentinel warbirds waiting for battle on a WWII runway. Other than a redtailed hawk and 2 motorcycles that passed me on the way up, I was the only thing moving on that hill. It was a cool experience.
I’m setting goals now for things I DON’T think I can do. Let’s call them stretch goals. Running 7 times around our flat 1 mile lake is something I KNOW I can do. Running up a steep hill is something entirely different. With each stretch goal I achieve, I gain a new level of confidence, which in turn gives me faith that I can stretch again.
To those of you thinking about your own stretch, consider this… one year ago I could barely run 2 miles without stopping to walk (and breathing heavily.) Over the last year, I incrementally worked my way up to hiking Yosemite’s halfdome, running a half-marathon, and now I’m starting into distance trail running. There was no magic trick. Each new goal started with a belief and a single step.
How are you going to stretch in 2010?