The other day a member of the death squad approached me to announce he's back in training and looking for a rematch out on the trail.
Just like that, the gauntlet was thrown.
Izzy thinks I can beat him, but I'm not so sure. Especially because he mentioned losing five pounds in the past several weeks and I...haven't.
Maybe it's time to come clean about what I'm actually doing out there on those trail runs: NOT running.
I mean, I am running...but it's more than that. So much more! It's stopping to make new friends along the way, to breathe a pocket of air which only exists in one place on the trail, and at a certain time of day with a certain kind of temperature, it smells just like my childhood home.
Right here, actually.
It's wondering if the ancient Norseman exists.
And being dazzled by moths the size of hummingbirds.
It's skipping here and there, picking up interesting rocks, being startled by lizards who think it's funny to cross the path right when I pass by, watching for snakes, rabbits, and birds of prey.
It's thinking about things and smiling to myself, or sometimes feeling sad. It's admiring the mountains and feeling as if I could never have enough of this endless blue sky.
It's pretty much everything except losing five pounds and training for a showdown.
But here's the problem: even though I have zero interest in running against spectres with no souls, in coughing up lungs and leaving them out in the desert, in having to listen to one more reference to salt tablets or six minute miles, there's something about a challenge which awakens this crazy, sleeping dragon inside of me.
It's a flighty, fanciful dragon. It can't back up half the feats it dreams of doing.
But that doesn't stop it from dreaming. And once it's awake, it will burn up the atmosphere before it lets some presumptuous, loudmouth hotshot beat me in a footrace.