RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.
*Written in 2014.
Whether you’re a man or a woman, chances are you’ve heard the phrase “You don’t know your own strength” at some point during your life. Never have truer words been spoken to you. It doesn’t matter if you are a strongman able to throw giant tires half the length of a football field or a petite girl trail running. Inside all of us lies more strength and resilience than we know. All it takes is that extra something to push it out of us.
I’ve had a few situations in my life where I’ve come to realize this after being faced with a scenario where I had to tap into something deeper in order to succeed or in some cases, survive. The most recent example came just yesterday, as I pushed myself harder than I should have and found myself in a potentially life-threatening situation.
I went hiking at Estero Bay Preserve, which I like due to the muddy and watery spots, as well as the changes in environment for a seemingly small area encased within the outer trail: a 4.5 mile loop. I have mapped out a course using every inch of trail available at this state park. My custom course is a hair over 6.5 miles, using unmarked trails I can extend it to about 10 miles. Yesterday, I attempted to do the 6.5 mile version because I knew that I could complete it in well under three hours and I needed to spend my day productively, as I was getting cabin fever sitting at home on a Sunday.
The mistake I made was starting at just before 1 p.m., as I usually start at 8-9 a.m. The reason why this was a mistake is that it was hot as shit outside. My weather app said it was 96 degrees but it said it felt like 105. It wasn’t unbearable when I started but by the time I got over 3 miles in, 96 degrees felt like 120. I found myself at a point in the trail where I was the furthest out and no matter which route I walked back, I had 3 miles ahead of me. In this situation, I chose the path of least resistance.
When things got unbearable, it hit me like a brick wall. Leading up to it, I felt myself getting hotter and I rested here and there but when it hit, it hit hard. I drank three liters of water, not to mention the two 20 oz. bottles I had within an hour before hiking. It didn’t seem to matter. My skin was extremely hot, my head felt like it was boiling inside and I was sweating profusely. When I got about another mile, I was still sipping on the water I had but I was no longer sweating. I felt the need to piss but my body couldn’t urinate. My vision was somewhat blurred and I was really sluggish as I continued down the trail. I was feeling the effects of what was close to becoming heat stroke.
Each time I got to a place with sufficient shade, I would rest for a few minutes out of the sun: sipping water. There weren’t a lot of shady areas, so the stretches between them seemed almost endless, as I struggled in the heat. When I got to some shade that I knew was less than a mile from my car, I could feel myself getting worse, even as I laid in the shade. I was alone, no one was there and I had to rely on myself to get me back to my vehicle, more water and a cold A/C. I didn’t think I could move at all but I knew I had to push myself because if I stopped again, I wouldn’t get up. I had carelessly put myself in one of the most dangerous situations I have ever been in.
But I got up, I pushed myself harder than I ever had. It was hard, part of me wanted to keel over and just wish for sunset and rain. I kept on walking. What was less than twenty minutes seemed like hours and I got hotter and hotter. I tried to distract my mind and think of other things but it wasn’t possible. It was literally hell but I didn’t stop.
After getting to my car, getting home, taking a cold shower for an hour and passing out, I woke up knowing that I had tapped into something that usually isn’t there. When I’m in the gym and need to push that extra bit, I do but I know if forced I could go even harder. Same thing goes for when I do other physical activities. If it gets too hard and there is an easy out, usually we take it. It isn’t until we’re forced or some other circumstance arises that most of us unlock that extra resilience and strength.
When I get to that point where I feel like giving up, I remember moments like this. I remember that I’ve faced some harrowing shit and walked away. I’ve also dealt with the worst that the universe could throw at me and overcome that. It’s not to brag because I’m not special. We all have this. We just have to remember it when we’re down or when we need to overcome an obstacle whether physical, mental or emotional.
It’s too easy to tap out.