Monday, August 04, 2008

Life in the clouds

Date: Aug. 4
Mileage: 37.4
August mileage: 69.6
Temperature: 52

So those partly cloudy yellow sunshines promised by five different weather forecasting services never materialized. I'm OK with that. Really. Not bitter at all. I have perspective. I once lived in the desert. I remember the seemingly endless strings of days when the mercury soared into the triple digits. I remember the oven rides, dripping so much sweat and rubber that you could have scraped pieces of me off the pavement to make gravy. The hard sun soaked through my skin and I swore that someday I'd find a home where summer wasn't so stifling. It's true. I wished for it. I have everything I deserve.

But dragging myself outside with everything I deserve is a different story, and my motivation is hitting new lows. I headed up to Eaglecrest today for a hard climb, which is nearly always a good way for me to deal with grumpy. I approach the hill reluctantly while thinking about random things like salmon berries and California, but launch furiously with renewed vigor and focus. I become angrier and angrier as the pain festers and the clouds close in around me. And just when I'm certain I have to quit, when sweat percolates through my clammy cold-weather layers and sharp breaths of thick air tear at my lungs, my senses begin to retreat. All sounds are gasps and breaths; all thoughts are gasps and breaths. All scenery is fog whether it's cloudy or not, so it's strange how much clearer everything seems. Life in the pain cave is a life without details. 1s and 0s. In and out.

I emerged at the end of the gravel road. The construction no further along than last week, I slowly caught my breath as I stumbled toward the east bowl on foot. As my heart rate slowed, details began to re-emerge. An old army tank. An excavator. Weather-worn paint adding splashes of color to ski run signs. Everything obscured by the swirling clouds, and the sun was still 92 million miles away, but I felt so strong, I could almost see it.