Monday, February 15, 2010

I Don't Think So

Light flakes were falling. I could see the gentle sway of the trees with the stiff breeze. The sun was just kind of there behind a thin layer of grey clouds. Moisture was coalescing all over my cheap apartment window, on the inside. The morning was a product of the solstice.
My mind told me that running might be a bad idea today, but my heart told me otherwise. I followed my heart, thinking oh, I’ll be ok.- it’s me, after all. And refusing to accept the biting cold, refusing to accept the fact that Pikes Peak simply could not be seen, I fired up the car and drove to Manitou.
There wasn’t as big a turn out in Memorial Park. Roughly, I’d say there was about 50 of us showing up that morning. The leader got things underway but without the usual zest in his voice that I have grown accustomed to hearing. Usually, the opening spiel goes something like this: “GOOD MORNING RUNNERS! TODAY WE ARE GOING TO RUN UTE PASS!! LET”S GOOOOO!” But on this particular morning it kind of went like this. “Mornin. Today we are going to run up Barr Trail. . .mmhmm let’s get her done mmm” So, we thinking him as being in sort of a Carl Childers persona from the movie Sling Blade, got going.
It was a minute in. I could feel something happening to my fingers. They hurt. They hurt from the air. Sometimes it’s so cold that you can guess a number for the temperature and just feel how right you are. I moved my arms fast, almost out of sync with my feet, to get the blood circulating again. It worked. Warmth gave me power. I picked up the tempo a little and stayed with the front of the pack. The regulars were there, those who were training for marathons or triathalons, and today they amounted to three including myself. I felt good, confident, even when Carl Childers suddenly blew past me. Where did he come from? I didn’t hear him. I can usually hear feet coming up into my realm. Despite how bizarre it was, the leader had to live up to his leadership. And the fact of me being a newbie wasn’t enough for me to be unaware that he always did.
The up and up went. Not good, not bad, it just went. And it was pretty damn cold. The ice on the trail was in a very unaccommodating mood. I still hadn’t mikitaed the screws into my shoe bottoms, probably due to my New England stubbornness, and I pay a little bit of that price with every Incline Club experience. I could also feel my physical “red flags,” as I call them. They usually start with the pain in my left heal. The pain is not enough to render me powerless, though, and it goes away after a while. Today it did not go away. I still kept going.
I made it up to the top of Rocky Mountain, where the terrain becomes generously flatter for a bit. With the flatness comes less hard running, and with less hard running comes less sweating, and with the less sweating there came more cold to my body. This time it wasn’t only in my extremities, but around my face. The sudden burst of cold also gave my nose an excuse to lose complete control of my internal fluids. Mind you, my nose wasn’t the only one to suffer this misfortune. I could hear, as if they were alive themselves, the noses of other runners completing their own unpleasant tasks. The sounds of the multiple nose blowings and snot rockets outweighed the melodic tweets of the finches. Talk about “leave no trace.”
Rarely do I listen to the voices of reason when on a run. Frequently they have told me, You are going too far today, turn around. or You do not have enough energy for this. and I have shooed them away like flies. Today my attention was different. The grayness of the ski, the unfeeling in my fingers, the coldness on my face, my nose and its insistence of bringing me into my own personal hell, caused me to do a turn around. Today was not my day to make the ascent to Barr Camp.
Surprisingly, the run down turned the tide. Yes it was slippery, yes I was unbelievably cold, but having fun leaping the rocks and defying gravity. This euphoria steered me out of my mood of quitting and into a mood of satisfaction. I ran just far enough this morning.

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