I am thankful for unseasonably mild temps in Virginia so far this winter. You see, I’m a Mississippi girl at heart. Was born and raised there until my teen years, so anything below 50 degrees (OK, 60 degrees if I’m being honest) has me shivering for days.
If you’ve been reading, you know that during the week, I’m a treadmill runner no matter the temperature. It gets me more family time than trying to squeeze in a run outside after work. But come Saturday, I love hitting the paths throughout my neighborhood. They are tree-lined with rolling hills, and getting out early on a Saturday or Sunday morning pretty much guarantees I won’t see many other people – which is fine by me.
Yesterday was one of these days. The weather was mild. The woods were foggy and damp. And I tackled a new trail, one my family and I only recently discovered. It intimidated me a bit because of a steady hill that winds and climbs its way through the woods to a subdivision tucked behind my house through a thick easement of trees and over a creek crossing. It’s also a shorter route, and, being a woman of routine, I always take the same old path: a long loop that leads me to the big lake our neighborhood was built around.
But yesterday, something about the fog and gray morning made me want to tackle that new hill trail.
I had walked up it only once during a long “exploration” walk with my husband and girls. My 6-year-old and I peeked into every hollowed out tree knot. The four of us went off trail and followed a mossy path along the creek, eventually finding our way back to the paved path which led us to tiny little playground tucked at the end of a residential street. To the kids, the end of that path was like striking gold.
An unknown running route holds me back sometimes. I’m not sure why that is, but I could probably admit the same for other “unknowns.” It’s the self-doubt, I suspect, of wondering if I’ll be able to conquer something new somewhat successfully. I developed this inhibition in my early 30s, I think. However, I’ve found that as I near 40, there is less of this doubt. Partly because I don’t care what the outcome is. I just want the experience. But mostly so my children won’t hesitate when it comes to diving into something new at full speed. I want them to experience every good thing.
That new route was just what I needed yesterday. The hill wasn’t as steep as I remembered. I made my way up without slowing my pace by much. I turned around at the little playground, then flew down as fast I could, letting gravity work with me to feel a little extra speed. No holding back.
And by tackling that unknown, I ended up with a new lake view, different than the one I’m used to seeing each Saturday morning.
It was the perfect finish line.