Next, as the first five minutes of the game slowly tick away, those breaths get shorter. As the blood and adrenaline pump through the body faster and faster, fatigue sets in. The legs are the first to go. Then, the arms start to feel like their molded from concrete.
By halftime, which couldn't have come soon enough, the wheezing kicks in, and you'd swear somebody landed a sucker punch to your solar plexus.
Be prepared, Georgia Bull-dogs, as you head into tonight's second-round NIT game at Air Force (24-8).
High altitude has a way of rendering fine-tuned athletes - unaccustomed to higher elevations - into average Joes.
"I don't know; I've never experienced it," point guard Sundiata Gaines said. "I think they do have an upper hand when it comes to playing in that environment."
Georgia's Stegeman Coliseum sits 807 feet above sea level. The Falcons' Clune Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo., sits at 6,035 feet. That's 604 feet higher than Denver, the Mile High City, and more than a mile higher than Athens.
Research has shown that it normally takes the human body about two weeks to acclimate to higher altitude. The Bulldogs, who flew in on Saturday, will get less than two days to try to adapt.
"It's just another place for us to play," senior Levi Stukes said. "We know we have to win to keep playing, so we have to go on the road and get a win."
And Georgia can breath a little easier if that happens.
Reach John Kaltefleiter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Second-round NIT games:
- Mississippi (21-12) at Clemson (22-10), 7 p.m., ESPN
- Georgia (19-13) at Air Force 24-8), 9 p.m.