I should have known. Cross country skiing with a Freak of Nature always ends up with you stranded on the side of a mountain. Real skiers with AT gear whizzed down the slope enroute to the lodge. There I was, on skinny skis, unable to effectively snowplow. I had to get down somehow, and the Walk of Shame just seemed too humiliating.
Bless those friends who help you push your limits. Where would I be if one rainy Sunday Brian hadn't said, "Let's just run twelve miles and see where we're at?" That twelve miler blossomed into two marathons. I remember all those times Robin wanted to "get to the alpine", our short hikes turning into all-day jaunts of incredible beauty. Then there was Laura at the old mill site, watching me painfully try to balance on a bike as an adult, and Rob at the pool, putting up a workout that I felt compelled to attempt. Even my more recent virtual friends who have done things like hike the John Muir trail and run incredible distances through the Alaskan wilderness. (well, I probably won't be doing that.)
I'm not saying I wouldn't have done any of those things on my own, but sometimes it takes someone who believes in you when you might not. Someone who knows you can get back in your kayak or face up to a bear stalking along the shore. That spark of recognition lighting somewhere deep inside.
The Freak could easily have skied down the slope hours before, but she coached me along. "Here's a good runout!"she pointed out. "You can do it." She is fearless and I am way too full of fear. Like drunks our tracks staggered through the trees, zigzagging their way to safety and flatter ground. If I had been on my own, I probably would have walked it. The snow was slippery and laid flat to the ground like a pancake. It was easily the steepest thing I've ever skied. I am not sure I could have been as patient as she was, but with a flourish of triumph we gained the parking lot. I had turned a corner. A small corner, but still.
Like I said, greatness lies within us. It is an ember just waiting for a wind.