Steamboat Springs On Wednesday morning I woke up feeling like I had been run over by a freight train.
A quick glance in he mirror confirmed that I hadn't, but it didn't make me feel any better.
It seemed as though every muscle in my achy body screamed for me to get back into bed making my drive to dive in to get the day's affairs about as strong as the pace of an economy car climbing up U.S. 40 over Rabbit Ears Pass.
It took a tremendous effort just to roll over and hit the snooze button of my alarm clock, which is located on the nightstand, which is just inches from where I sleep.
After several failed attempts to pull my 35-year-old frame out of bed, I somehow found the fortitude to begin my day several minutes behind schedule.
No, I wasn't feeling the effects of spending the night at a local bar throwing down beers with some old friends between shots of Tequila. However, that's how I felt.
No, these conditions were induced by a game I learned as a child and haven't been able to escape as an adult. Like many other longtime locals, I am cursed by the joy that comes from spending my summer weeknights at Howelsen Hill playing adult co-ed softball.
But like many of the people who started playing softball again last week, I woke up the morning after our games wondering why I keep putting my body through the same routine summer after summer.
The only real reason I can come up with is that softball is fun.
That's why hundreds of local players come to Howelsen Hill during the summer to play in the local adult recreational leagues. It's the same joy that is inspired by adult recreational soccer, basketball and volleyball leagues. It's also the same feeling that comes from hockey or any other sport that allows the older generations to chase the games they learned to love as children.
Winning, well that's just one of the many pleasant symptoms that come from hanging out at the ball fields. Symptoms that, at least for this player, easily outweigh any pain or fatigue I might have to suffer through during the first few weeks of the season. Normally, by the second or third game, my body has adjusted to the shock of exercise and don't feel too bad the morning after a game.
Steamboat is not alone in its love of the game. The U.S. Amateur Softball Association, which sanctions teams, leagues and tournaments across the country, estimates there are more than 170,000 softball teams in the United States.
That translates into about 2.5 million people and, as far as I can tell, the economic power to keep the makers of Bengay analgesic, pain relievers and knee supports in business well into the next generation.
You see, it's true that I'm not as young as I used to be, but I still feel like a kid when I get the chance to swing for the fences (ones that I will never hit a ball over) in an adult recreational league.
Unfortunately, my body normally brings me back to reality by reminding me that I'm not 12 years old the following day.