The Negotiation

The Thing I’m Doing This Year #17

Saturday morning, late, I get to the trailhead. No parking spaces. People everywhere, all heading to the trail, like ants at a picnic. I pack it in. No hike today.

Sunday morning. I get up at 5:30a. Driving to the trail, I remember, back in the day I’d get to the trail before the sun rose. But it turns out getting up at 5:30a did the trick. I got a good parking space. I beat the crowd, so I’m happy. But I don’t have a hat. I always wear a hat.

You need a hat.

IMG_4938The temperature was in the low 60s, but it felt wet, humid, at the beginning of the trail. Three minutes in and sweat is rolling down the back of my head and before I could say, “I really should have brought a hat,” a lovely mixture of sweat and sunscreen rolls into my eye. And so it begins, the constant dabbing of the eyes with the shirt.

But the trails are less crowded, so you take the good with the bad. I’m not going that fast; my time at the top of the Ws, not very impressive.

And so it begins … the negotiation with myself.

“I’m not feeling that great. I’m not feeling it. I’m not going that fast. I’m not setting any records today. Maybe I should just turn around at the Incline Sign. You don’t want to get too tired or sore, I say to myself. You’re going to Denver with Carli. Can’t be all sleepy. You should be with your family.

Your lungs hurt … why do your lungs hurt? That can’t be good. Maybe I will just stop at the Incline Sign.

This negotiation happens with me a lot and I don’t have to be on a trail for it to happen.

At some point completely unremarkable, I stop to rest and I feel lightheaded again. Sort of the same feeling I had doing my century, but like one-tenth that feeling. Just a little fuzzy, a little black dot-y.

I know that people who care about me think I should get that checked out. But I don’t trust my doctor. Plus, I’m just pushing my system a little too hard, what with the asthma and diabetes. This wasn’t an issue eight years ago. Maybe all those pills, maybe all those little conditions I have are working together against me. Maybe I’m just old. Maybe somebody or something don’t want me to go fast.

But I wanna go fast.

Either way the whole conversation just reminds me of something Jerry Lee Lewis said to Jimmy Swaggart in the movie, “Great Balls of Fire.”

“If I’m going to hell, I’m going there playin’ the piano.”

I get to the Incline Sign in 67 minutes. I find a rock in the shade, take off my pack and eat a GU. I want to get a good rest in, but even though I’m in the Rocky Mountains, it’s difficult finding a comfortable rock. Plus, I heard a thing about there being a lot of ticks in the world these days. I don’t know where they’ve been appearing, but I don’t want any appearing on me. So I pop up and decide to go up an interval or two.

The negotiation continues … the trail is slightly easier here. I’ve rested, ate a GU. I feel a breeze. I’ll just go up a little ways.

After a couple intervals, I run for seven minutes. That’s it … I’m going to the 7.8 sign today. I run some more. Soft pine needles cover the trail cushioning the blows. I get to the 7.8 sign in 1:45:45, an awful time. One of my all-time worst, but I haven’t been here in years. To put it into perspective, I’ve got to the camp in under two hours three times – my goal is to beat my camp time from eight years ago – and on those sub-two hours camp hikes I got to the 7.8 sign in 1:29:11, 1:26:54 and 1:26:34, my personal best.

I’ve got a ways to go.

The next installment … “A Series of Unfortunate Events”

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3 Responses to The Negotiation

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