Good Job, Old Man

hiking person on rock

The Thing I’m Doing This Year #22

I did three hikes in June: two forgettable and one that was encouraging. After getting to the 7.8 in a miserable 1:45:45 on June 1, I went on the road for a couple weekends. On June 22, I tried again.

I had the same times at the gate and the top of the Ws, but then dropped three minutes from the W’s to the Incline Sign. The time to the sign was still not great, but better than before, and it left me energized.

But let me digress … I had got on the trail not super early, in fact, I had to park all the way in town and walk uphill for a mile to the trailhead and it’s super convenient restroom.

When I got to the restroom, I found its lone toilet in sorry shape. It was plugged up, so I was faced with one of those dilemmas. I mean, really, who uses a toilet that is already backed up? I mean no one should because someone has to eventually clean that up. Intellectually, that’s a simple problem, you don’t do it. But … what do you tell your butt after walking a mile just to get to the reststop. Nevermind your bladder.

It was like deciding whether or not to eat Harvey on week two on the life raft. You know you shouldn’t do it, but God, are you hungry or what?!

So, I’m on the trail and I’m going to be on the trail for hours and in the first 10 minutes, I have to fart. I’m a human; it happens. But then “the incident” at the doctor’s office enters my mind and I make the tactical decision to not fart the entire trip.

That’s like giving up alcohol or Facebook, virtually impossible.

But that’s what I decided to do, even though that overwhelming urge did not leave my mind for one moment.

And maybe that’s what allowed me to run free and easy and often after the Incline Sign. I was so jacked up when I reached the 7.8 sign in 1:37, an eight-minute drop. That’s about halfway to where I need to be.

hiking treesThe third hike on June 28 was not great. I had biked three straight days, got to the trail two hours too late (had to drop off Carli and Gina) and it was hot. I decided before I even got out of the car – in town again – to just hike to the Incline Sign and be done.

Really crowded, bad times all around. Decided to try again on July 3, a weekday, get up early and give a good effort. I love that when I go eight miles in two-and-a-half hours that I consider that an off day, a light day on the trail.

Two moments … a jackass out of control ran up on an embankment trying to pass me, slipped and fell into me, driving my left shoe into my right ankle. I have a knot there now, bruised and sore to walk on.

Second … a high school couple was resting in the shade. The boy is tying his t-shirt around his head as a bandana and says as I pass, “Good job,” which I immediately take to mean, “Good job, old man.”

Later as I stopped to take photos, the boy and girl run past. He is saying something egotistical to her and I think, “What a douchbag,” and start running.

They are ahead. I don’t know how far. They are 30 years younger than me. I don’t put on the after burners; I don’t have after burners. Plus, I don’t know what those are. It just so happened that I caught them.

That moment reminded me of something Eric Heiden told me about his opponent in his final gold-medal race in Lake Placid.

“Caught him, passed him, never saw him again.”

the pulpitSo July 3 comes around and I’m rested. I haven’t worked out in four days and I get up early. I get a great parking spot at the melodrama theatre and the bathroom toilet is operating just fine. I get to the top of the Ws in a pretty good time and to the Incline Sign in a not bad time.

But then I lost it. No mojo. No energy. Did I give too much too early? I don’t know, but in no time flat, I’m trudging up the trail like an extra on the Walking Dead. I’m beat. Feel like dogshit. When I stopped to catch my breath, I put my hands on my knees and suck air.

On one of these proud rest breaks, I see these two little feet approach me. It’s a nice, little old lady, about 89, with a big smile, a giant backpack, and two of those fucking walking sticks. She’s checking up on me to see if I’m okay, if I need anything. I tell her to fuck off.

I keep going. No matter how hard it gets it’s going to get harder and sometimes easier and I get to the 7.8 sign – with no running whatsoever – in a terrible time, but I at least feel better and keep to the plan. I hike two more intervals, about 14 more minutes, and I get to the place in the trail I call ‘the pulpit.’ It’s just a beautiful spot with lots of rocks and an unobstructed view of the mountaintop. I’m done for the day and I walk back down.

The next installment … “Invisible Man”

The song that helped me down the hill …

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