My breath was coming in gasps and I fought to keep my bike upright.
I was working my way up a long, steep hill. My friend, Keila, rode to my left, listening to my panting.
She was not breathing heavily as she maintained a slow, steady pace.
We had ridden this hill before. It was three miles with an average grade of 6% – challenging, but in recent tries I had been successful making it to the top without stopping.
My heart thumped hard and fast. My mind screeched at me to stop.
I stubbornly kept on, feeling more and more irritation with myself that the hill was this hard for me.
I uttered an expletive that I won’t print here but sounds suspiciously like “Smucker.”
After 37 mostly horrible minutes, we reached the top.
I dismounted and stood over my bike, my elbows on the handlebars, head down, trying to get my breath back.
When my wheezing subsided a bit, I straightened up and looked over at Keila. She was also standing over her bike, but she had her phone out and was texting someone.
No sign of struggle there.
I shook my head and rasped, “I don’t know why that was so hard this time.”
Keila looked at me and said in a soft voice,
It’s because when you start to suffer, you speed up. And then you get mad.