I stepped in the dirt and paused. The biggest climb of the day was ahead of me, but I didn't know it. It was mostly dark and quiet and my head lamp revealed fifteen feet ahead: overgrown brush, bulky redwoods, and a narrow dirt path. I stepped again and felt the trail resist. What had I gotten myself into?
I'm not sure why I came here. I could've slept in. Or I could've waited until the sun was up. Why didn't I? I couldn't answer that now. Just keep moving, I thought.
I cursed the mountain and the darkness. They tired me and hid what was ahead. Had it been light out, I would've seen a long, steep climb, and little else. It would've overwhelmed me. I would've stopped or turned around. Instead, the limitations kept my focus on the task at hand: to put one foot in front of the other. Anything beyond that - an impressive view, an easy descent - was out of mind.
With the sun starting to break, the mountain's steady incline seemed to let up. Then, finally, it stopped; I had reached its peak. I paused, panting. I had little sense of orientation, but soon the view cleared. I could see now what I couldn't see then; I placed myself above the fog yet below the powerlines. I breathed easily and smiled as the trail supported my descent.
In running and in life, it can help to limit my vision. The enormity of a climb overwhelms when consumed in one gulp. Breaking it into steps makes it more manageable. I think that's why I run in the dark though I'm desperate to see. Or I look down to pick myself up.