Friday, July 19, 2013

It's All in the Mind (...and in the legs and lungs)

Green is the colour of my true love’s curves… Er… What I mean to say is that I have been embracing the slopes of the Los Alamos ski hill. Literally. Well, almost literally. It looks something like this:
Pajarito Mountain Ski Area. Those slopes are deceptive.
Don't be fooled into thinking it's an easy climb!
I get out of my car, cinch on my waist pack, and grab my poles. Both waist pack and poles serve to make me feel more legit than I would otherwise. I set out at a steady clip and approach the first green slope. I pause, look up at the green expanse, and say, “That’s not TOO steep. We’re feeling pretty good today. Let’s go.” The plural subject is not because I am hiking with anyone, but because it feels much more like an epic adventure when there is a full party conquering the mountain. And about one third of the way up, there are multiple voices anyway:
“Just keep swimming walking.”
“Emergency Alert! There is pain, fatigue, and thirst! Abort Mission. Abort Mission.”
“Look. Just get to the little green bush there. You can do it. A few more steps. Then, you can take a break.”
“Made it! Took a few more [gasp] steps. Water break!”
“What are you doing?!?!?! No breaks! That was barely three steps. Up and at ‘em. Hehehe. I tricked you. You thought you were going to get a break. I’ll give you one when you get to that tree up there. No, not the one in five paces, the one up on that ridge.”
“But I can’t make it THAT far!!”
"I repeat. Abort Mission."
And somewhere along the way, I tell Nazi Exercise Voice to shut up and I fold over at the waist, lean on my poles, and gasp for air. It’s a very attractive sight.  They really ought to put me on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Just the other day, I was walking up Wildcat. I thought it was Daisy Mae. I would have preferred Daisy May. Somewhere about a quarter of the way up, I was huffing and puffing to put the big bad wolf to shame and I realized, “This slope isn’t easy!” I was very indignant. And to make matters worse, there was a deer complacently watching me for a good ten minutes as I stumbled my way up the slope. He seemed amused by my slow progress. I, needless to say, was not amused. It was only when I got to the top that I saw the slope was a black diamond (translation: much steeper than a nice and gentle bunny hill). Dear reader, there is a price to confusing a blue diamond (Daisy Mae) with a black diamond (Wildcat): you leave your dignity trailing behind you on the slopes.
I decided to take the jeep trail down. No, it wasn’t that I was a chicken. Well, maybe partially. It had gotten dark by then and the moon wasn’t quite bright enough for me to see my feet, so I figured I would be less likely to roll my ankle and die if I took the jeep trail rather than careening down one of the slopes (That's the way of things, you know. First you roll your ankle, then you lie there in pain, and then you die). As I was walking down the jeep trail in the dark, I realized that the pain wasn’t over. You use different muscles for descending than ascending. My quads were complaining about the volleyball I had played earlier in the week. I told them I had enough of complaining. They continued to grumble.
There is no winning...until you have showered, changed into warm, comfy clothes, and curled up in bed to celebrate another physical feat of exercise. Then, and only then, can we recall the green slopes of Apen or Wildcat or Daisy Mae with fondness.

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