5:35am: I’m up and out the door. The rest of the gang is sound asleep (Day 3 of vacation. Day 1 of running after a week sabbatical. I needed to rest the jet. Have to say the condition of my knee spooked me. 30 years ago, I could fall from pine trees, slip head long on slimy river rocks fishing with cousins, get chopped on ankle by a nasty Trail Smoke Eater – - and spring back like a slinky. No more. Dark thoughts encroach – - will I heal or will this knee-thing be biting me the rest of the ride?)
5:40am: I find the sign for the Mountain Trail. (There are 3 trails. Walking. Intermediate. Mountain. I’m a Man, right? Mountain it is. ‘Throw caution to the wind.’ Knee be damned.)
Mile 1: All systems green. Slow pace but adequate. (Might be looking to throw caution to the wind, but I’m not a lunatic. I’m picking them up and down deliberately. I feel my mood surging. Knee feels tight but good. I’m not ready to be put out to pasture yet. Mountain Trail, huh? Right. I’m Canadian for God’s Sake. This is a bunny trail.)
Mile 1.5: Flat land turns to rolling hills. Pace quickens. (It’s quiet out. I love the solitude. I love my mornings. Alone with a light tropical breeze. Tall palms swaying. I’m listening to Lori’s Francis Cabrel sing “je t’aime.” It puts me in the right place. It ain’t Paris…there’s always next year…but it is spectacularly beautiful.)
Mile 2.0: Rolling hills turn to steep grade. (I stare up. The view reminds me of the runaway lanes on steep highways in British Columbia – the escape hatch for truckers who lose their brakes. The backdrop here: Nevis Peak towers 3232 feet above and is draped in the heavens with low hanging clouds.
Mile 2.25: I stop. (What? You were looking for an inspirational story? A Nike video. “Don’t Quit” – “Just Do it” – “Keep Going” – “This will grow hair on your chest!” You’ve come to the wrong place Padre. This damn hill is a killer. We’ve taken this “run” to a “stop and go.”)
Mile 2.6: I walk to the top of the hill which is followed by a steep decline. I resume my run. I see a Green Vervet Monkey sitting on the trail ahead. (CUTE is the first thought that comes to mind. Long (very) tail. It’s expressive dark face is contrasted with a white underbelly. God sending me a message – there is beauty after the struggle. Enjoy it.)
Mile 2.7: I hear the trees rustling overhead. I see monkeys everywhere. 25-30 of them. They approach me. I look for exit. Hill on left. Canyon on right. As they say, the only way out is through. Suddenly my knee tenses up. (Amygdala is screaming. I feel an ambush. Where’s God now? Nothing cute about what looks like a hungry marauding pack. Planet of the Apes comes to mind. And for some reason, I keep thinking that they will go after the meaty part of my calf. Ridiculous huh? I turn so they don’t jump me from the back. Should I bare my teeth and growl – show them who’s in charge. This, though, might incite them. Really? For God Sake. They are monkeys. Man-up.)
Mile 2.8: I shout “Get Away” and they scatter. (What’s wrong with Get Away? Nothing else manly came to mind. It worked didn’t it?)
Miles 3.0 to 4.17: The rest of the run was downhill and largely uneventful. (Thank God. These trail runs in nature are so stressful! Big Canadian Man felled by monkeys. Humbled by nature again.)
Time Check: Who cares? Nap time…pool side.