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Friday, June 23, 2017

Hypoxic Junkie

I was in a funk last week (you may have noticed). It was one of those glass-half-empty weeks; barely energy enough to do what I need to do in order to keep a grip on sanity. It takes a toll, doing what I need to do in order to combat the minute by minute scroll of apocalyptic headlines.

On a day too hot for clothes, I choose to eviscerate either my Demons or myself; one of us has to go! Though it's tough on the body, nothing resets my attitude like a physical challenge...something above and beyond the normal everyday summit, something that involves stopwatches and stupidity

So I decide a timed scramble from home to the summit of Twin Peaks is in order. After all, given the heat, I have a built-in excuse for failure, which is comforting and reduces my "performance anxiety." Excuse in place, I have nothing to lose...sort of. 

I am nothing if not a walking, talking amalgam of naivety; part day-dreamer, part fantasy-farmer. Thus, like the proverbial cat torturing its half-dead mouse prey, I toy with the thought of equalling my Twin Peaks Personal Best: 1 hour and 49 minutes. 

Paradoxically, I hold no illusions about equalling or bettering that P. B.. It was made 6 or 7 years ago, back when I was using Twin Peaks as training for the Imogene Pass Run from Ouray to Telluride. It's both sad and telling: You know you're well into the "third act" of a three act play when "6 or 7 years" is suddenly of consequence. Oh what I wouldn't give to return to those seemingly endless heydays of "middle age" passivity, when there was more sand above the hourglass orifice than at the bottom, a time when 20 years could pass me by and be totally irrelevant to performance (sigh).

Oh hypoxia, you are my "go to" drug of choice, my survival mechanism—the one thing I can count on to realign superfluous priorities in a self-admitted superfluous life, the one thing that casts out Demons faster than a Pentecostal preacher-man at a tent-revival. Like alcohol, it is a giddy high from lack of oxygen to the brain, only without the hangover. I bid Bobbie farewell, tell her I love her—you know, because you never know—and hit the stopwatch as I blast out the front door. 

In spite of the heat, 58 minutes 45 seconds lands me a little over half way, at the junction of Old Twin Peaks Trail and Oak Creek/Twin Peaks Trail. Cool; 30 seconds off my Personal Best to that point. The trail relents slightly at the junction, allowing breath enough to sip of ice water from my hydro pack. I'm perspiring buckets. My "Life is Good" hat is off, having been re-appropriated to mop salty sweat from brow and eyes. What is with this humidity?

Long story shortened for your convenience, I set foot on Twin Peaks in 1 hour and 52 minutes, only 3 minutes off my Personal Best. I'm physically spent, not one cent left in the tank. I peel off my sopping wet tank top and wring sweat from it like a wet dishrag, counting my time as a victory. Demons officially vanquished, for now, anyway.

On the toe-jam home I have plenty of time to plot. Hmmm. 
Maybe if I shorten my "recovery"zones" just a tad... pick a cool, cloudy morning...

You see, that's the thing with drug addiction: Instead of enjoying the "high," you start plotting the next "fix."

It could be worse. I could be battling cocaine or heroin addiction. 

Hello. My name is Mark Johnson and I'm an addict...and my "Life is Good."  


  1. Great addiction to have. celebrate that you can walk much less climb mountains.congratulatios for being in such great shape.

  2. maybe we don't really need all that oxygen anyway huh

  3. Nice work Mark (both the effort and your excellent prose), very true words about us aging athletes

  4. And yet another time you amaze the crap out of me with your ability to conquer mountains!

  5. Yes 6 or 7 years makes a difference these days. Only three minutes off your PB is damn good!

  6. Mark I do the same thing on my mountain bike....this morning as a matter of fact; start off at a faster pace... well if the wind was blowing this way as opposed to that way...take the gadgets off my bike to make it lighter...I need it to be about 72 degrees...take my turns a little tighter...tune up the bike.
    It doesn't get to me like it used to; now I am just happy to be able to get out and do something. A little more of smelling the roses I guess.


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