It Feels Like a Slow Motion Punch to the Head, the Kind Where the Skull Moves Before the Skin and Muscle Have Time to Catch Up

This doesn't have much to do with running. I feel like I have been punched repeatedly in the head, and yes, I know what that feels like. Right now, it's a combination of too much bargain bin Trader Joe's, "make sure you let that one breathe for at least an hour" red mixed with an upper respiratory infection slash sinus infection slash coughing up various colors and consistencies of sickness as my body tries to purge itself. Maybe it's time to start drugs.


To add to the general cloudiness in my head, yesterday, I caught my front tire in a rain-carved trail rut and went down, with my bike, sideways falling towards the upturned handle bar, and taking that shot to the chin and tasting the blood and pieces of inner lip now covering my lower teeth, spitting red, and getting back up.

I read a great Muhammad Ali quote today, "It's hard to beat a guy when he's got his mind made up that he's going to win." It reminded me of taking the aforementioned punches to the head, sparring, full contact, being on the other side of that quote, and not sure if I was going to last the hour. I was paired up with too much heavyweight Iraqi muscle, the guy was a former All-American high school wrestler, could have been UFC, all muscles and veins with a neck the size of a telephone pole, who at the time was either a 3rd or 4th degree black belt and I was matched up with him as a fairly inexperienced, but eager brown belt, eager enough to show up at the Saturday advanced class that was talked about in hushed tones after the regular Tuesday and Thursday practice.
The instructor was old-school, Japanese old-school, no water during class, no breaks, weed out the weak old-school, as he watched me take shot after shot to the stomach as I tried to keep my guard up because as soon as I dropped it, slam, to the jaw. We trained with light gloves, just enough padding to protect the knuckles, not enough to protect the head. It was brain jarring and knee buckling to get hit in the head, so I kept my guard up, and took shot after shot to the stomach, right below the sternum, backing me up to the corner of the class, not able to breathe, falling over the bags of gloves, focus mits, and kicking bags. "Stop" the instructor clipped, of course after I had fallen and the barrage had already been halted by a mixture of retreat and clumsiness. Getting up, smiling at the big Iraqi, knowing that I was out of my league, knowing that I would be back, and that now I had stories to tell in hushed tones after the Tuesday and Thursday sessions, showing off green bruises that would turn brown, then black, then fade away in a color scale of testosterone, and knowing, without a doubt, that I would train as hard as I could to get to that level, the level where I already had my mind made up that I couldn't be beat.

A lot of people are getting strong right now, training in the snow and the cold. In winter, when I used to live in the snow and my hands would freeze, fingers pink and numb with frozen snot half dripped, half frozen from my nose, pulling the inner tube up the hill. It was a big, yellow,  rubber tube with a cartoon bobcat painted on the seat and thick plastic handles to hold when we hit the homemade jumps and fly in the air, legs twisting like cats and frozen fingers clutching and white knuckles inside musty gloves and landing, sometimes on my head, burning pink skin and feeling the punch of the ground, the momentary forgetfulness of a concussion, small brain bumping against thin skull, shaking my head a couple of times and watching the grey black blur become blinding white before grabbing the black rubber handle of the tube and digging my cold, wet toes into the front of my boots trying to gain a hold for the long climb back to the top of the hill.

Maybe this does have something to do with running. Maybe I've just taken a couple too many hits to the head.


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