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New doors

I have decided that there is no such thing as a flat stretch of road in the state of North Carolina.

This might be a tad bit of an overstatement, some hyperbole for a Thursday morning, but really, if you want to find a flat place to run here, don't ask me. Even my four-loop residential run in Chapel Hill had rolling hills in it -- ones that I had to run, well, four times. And at tempo pace.

But here's the thing -- I held my pace.

Even running up hill, I was able to hold pretty darn close to my pace. In fact, when I hit a few flat spaces, I actually had to slow down and not work so hard.

For the record, I wasn't exactly running Chestnut Ridge or Mendon Ponds Park. I realize these really are pretty innocent hills. But that doesn't make them easier, especially mentally. So holding my prescribed paces for two runs on a hilly course, well, let's just say I was excited enough to throw my iPod on in my hotel room and groove to a mix of Great Big Sea and Beyonce afterward.

I was so excited I emailed my coach and told her how I thought I was getting better.

After her initial enthusiasm, she offered this food for thought:

"Getting better .... but you weren't sick. I'd say you are opening new doors."

Point well taken. And one that I'll need to think on during that long easy run today.

Improvement is something we quantify. How much faster can I run, bike or swim? How much quicker can I get up that hill from yesterday? Did I make more money, get better grades or win more accolades?

There are important measuring tools.

But if we get caught up in the measurements, we miss what they are trying to tell us.

And, as Mary pointed out to me, so often, those are tales of new opportunities. New windows to peer through. New doors to walk through.

What opportunity will present itself after a week of running camp?

Heck, what opportunities are coming around to me today?

Because if I'm too busy measuring my pace, there's an excellent chance I'll miss something worthwhile along the way.

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