Saturday, September 05, 2009

Lake Placid Hangover

If you asked me, I'd have said that you can't get a hangover from a place. The idea is a little silly.

I've been up to Lake Placid a lot. At least six times for the ironman, including the four I did there myself, plus camps and training trips. And Lake Placid is special for me because I grew up in upstate New York, spent most of my first 30 years there. Lake Placid reminds me of home, if home is where you grew up. Oh, the hills we had at home were a little less severe, their peaks a little less formidable, but I did grow up in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.

The last time we didn't go to Lake Placid for the Ironman, I didn't regret it. I remember being relieved, because July is one of the busiest times of the year for us at work, because the entire University is on ultra-high stress alert level due to orientation for new students, when the entire institution's staff is pushed to the maxed. And I suppose since the students tuition pays the bills, there's good cause for that. Being away when my department is responsible for providing services however, is very stressful.

Besides, the truth is I have trouble being at races I'm not doing. It doesn't matter if I trained or not, ready or not, mentally I'm always ready because the off switch I should have, the one that would be a healthy thing, is missing. That selfishness bothers me, and I try my best to compensate for it by being a good spectator, getting out there and rooting people on and being happy for them.

But come that third or fourth weekend of July, I feel myself pulled to the spot. I was so glad to be back there this year, even though I was going to watch the race, even though it was undetermined who was signing up for next year. Forgotten was any negative thoughts about the rain that had pounded down on us hour after hour last year, the pain, the expense. Something heavy just came off my shoulders when we pulled into the parking lot behind the condo. The sun was out, it was hot, bright, the place is just so- so fucking beautiful- I can't think of another way to describe it.

Sometimes there's something deeper inside us, some instinct, something that occurs at that first level below the thoughts we articulate.

That's Lake Placid.

And of course it's not, not really. It's just a place, and you see the beauty and not the warts when you're there for five days, when you don't have to get up and go to work in the morning, and when it's July, not January. Which isn't to say there's not a tremendous beauty to the place then as well, but when you start thinking Connecticut's summer is too short...

Being there was great, training there was great- going back next year will be great.

However, I'd felt kind of funky ever since I got back. Part of it is probably just having sighed up to race next year. Standing in line for four hours with Steve Surprise just to get into the race made that a big deal. Not an ordeal, just a big deal. That shifting sand of focus and the way priorities gets subtly re-shuffled...

But that's not really it. I'd just- it's sentimental, and silly- but I just missed the place. I thought it was just me.

And then one day last week Margit said to me that she really hadn't felt quite right since getting back from Lake Placid.

Maybe you can get a hangover from a place...

I guess the only cure for a hangover like this one is to remember all the great friends you have, to remind yourself that this home of your has plenty of nature beauty as well. That job you almost love most days.

And hydrate well. Always hydrate well.

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