A winter of discontent | PostIndependent.com

A winter of discontent

Mike Vidakovich
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Mike Vidakovich

“Let’s just say I was testing the bounds of reality. I was curious to see what would happen. That’s all it was: just curiosity.”

– Jim Morrison, Los Angeles, 1969

Borrowing words from the title of a John Steinbeck novel is a fitting way to describe my feelings toward the season called winter.

If winter really is an old man, then I’ve certainly met kinder ones than this codger who chills me to the bone from Thanksgiving Day until the Ides of March, and fills my waking hours with white and endless shades of gray.

I wait patiently for the time soon to come when there will be multiple selections from the Grand Artist’s color wheel.

It’s called spring.

I’m not a winter sports enthusiast, unless you count the frigid morning and afternoon runs I take with my stubborn running buddies, whose never-give-in-to-the-elements attitude have kept my feet moving out the door for the roads rather than curling up on the floor beside my woodstove.

It was during one of these frosty, January morning runs in the Glenwood Canyon that I listened to the hearty soul striding alongside me tell of the fact that he had avoided the comfort of his climate-controlled treadmill so far this winter, and would continue to do so.

The weather would not get the best of him. It was a badge of honor, a defiance of passing years that is a common trait found in many who make running mile after mile an obsession.

It takes courage to do it, to be a distance runner. It’s about more than fatigue. It’s about pain and dealing with it for a long time. And it’s about resolve.

On that same run, with the wind cutting into my sweat-soaked body, I was reminded of a man I heard tale of when I spent a year teaching in Buena Vista.

His name is Pete Makris, and he is a multiple time finisher of the Leadville 100 mile trail run. He is also a veteran of the war in Vietnam.

Running 100 miles over 13,000 foot peaks was nothing to Makris compared to his harrowing journey through the jungles of southeast Asia after suffering a severe leg wound in combat.

Walking toward safety, Makris kept moving as best as he could, refusing to give in to the urge to lie down and rest. He knew he might never get up.

It is an interesting and almost comical theory Makris uses when asked how, in his running career, he dealt with the unbearable fatigue of the Leadville Trail 100. His theory, I’m sure, was formed on a day far from home when he was fighting for his life rather than merely seeking out a finish line.

“You will pass out before you die.” That’s how Makris reasons the body shutting him down before his own steadfast will to keep going proved to be his ultimate undoing.

To a lesser degree, the mantra of Pete Makris is embedded in the spirit of many who have come into my immediate orbit in the years of running.

Maybe it is a badge of honor. Running helps us live with the purpose birth proposes: to discover yourself and your own potential.

None of us seem willing to give into the urge to stop and rest anytime soon.

Mike Vidakovich writes freelance for the Post Independent.

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