I’m sitting here in a gas station parking lot where I just downed two hot dogs and a bag of Fritos.
And a Vitamin Water.
I’m not proud of this.
But I think it’s important to illustrate just how far off the rails my body has gone.
Let’s take a look at how I got here.
While I continue to experience significant mucous symptoms of my vampire parasite, I can sit around my house like a sloth no longer.
I had a plan for this weekend.
Saturday morning I’d run Twisted Trail 10k and then head over to North Mountain to get a Challenge Loop in. Just to keep myself securely in the top three.
Figured I’d be home around 1pm or so, giving me plenty of time to refuel and recover before heading out to Day Creek Sunday morning for 13 more miles.
Now, if you’re familiar with any of this, you may already see some faults in my plan.
But I’ll walk you through it anyway.
Because that’s what I do here.
Twisted Trail 10k
Start time: 8:00am
I got there by 7:30. Picked up my race packet. And because Rogue was nowhere to be found yet, I picked hers up as well.
But the girl volunteering at packet pickup clearly didn’t know me. Or my reputation.
It’s ok. It all works out in the end.
I finally heard from Rogue. Who was just waking up. At home. An hour from the race. Something about sinuses and meds and falling asleep at 5am…
It’s cool. I mean, I’m not accustomed to being stood up, but I’ve done it to others enough over the last two weeks that this seemed fair.
So I ran with K-Rob-D and Goatfinder and Finn’s Dad and some super friendly dude from Radford.
There was a lot of yelling throughout that race. We had to remind K-Rob several times that “This isn’t your class!” Which is what we say to people when they’re pushing us a little too hard.
It didn’t stop her.
Nearly 100 folks showed up for this inaugural race by our Blue Ridge Trail Runners. And it was excellent. Phenomenal volunteers. Really cool finishers medals. Top shelf door prizes. Beautiful course. Rolling hills and very runnable trails. Not too many rocks or roots to trip over.
I mean, that’s not gonna stop ya girl from wiping out. But hey. What’s a trail race without blood?
And really, it wasn’t a fall so much as I just kinda fell over. I don’t know why. I can’t answer that for you.
Goatfinder apparently had a really sweet fall, with far more blood and dirt. Taskmaster K-Rob-D blames Skratch for distracting her, but seriously? If you’d been on that trail and heard K-Rob screaming at all of us, you could see where maybe she’s the one that made Goatfinder all nervous. Causing her to fall.
I’m not even playin. At one point, I was behind all of them, just relaxing and enjoying a nice calm pace that allowed me to utilize my limited lung capacity more easily. And out of nowhere K-Rob starts screaming at me to move my ass and pass her.
Like, who yells at you to pass them? When they’re in your age group?
“I’m trying to get you a damn medal!”
I pushed on past and took off for fear that if I stayed too close to her, the yelling would continue.
Her intimidation tactics worked.
That’s a first place podium stand right there.
The coral Mountain Junkies tank to my right is K-Rob who probably should have been first, but she was trying to get me a damn medal, so…
Now, there was a moment where K-Rob was third place. Instead of second.
Because Rogue came in second.
Who was still at home.
And not actually racing…
See, what had happened was…
It’s possible that I put her bib in my pocket before the start of the race. And forgot to take it out.
My poor Mountain Junkies were timing this excellent event.
Lady MJ gave me her stern face.
If you’ve never received it, it’s uncomfortable. Because she’s the sweetest human in the world, but also super badass and I really don’t want to be on the bad side of that.
I think I probably get one more chance before they stop allowing me to handle bibs and assign someone to place mine on me, or they just ban me from racing altogether.
Hopefully they’ll still let me volunteer, because pumpkin bread.
Probably not with packet pick up though…
After the race, J-Pete allowed me to say a few words about Sweet G. He was registered for this race, and it’s so beautiful that they honored him by setting his race shirt, bib, and finishers medal out and holding a moment of silence for him.
Several of his fellow Turtle Runners came out and ran their first trail race in his honor.
I love that so much.
We’re all still coming to terms with the gaping hole his death has left out on our trails.
And what I love about him is how much he would have appreciated what happened as I was speaking.
Because I was trying to find the right words without getting choked up and y’all know me. And Graham knew me.
I can only be allowed to speak for so long before I shift into awkward nonsensical rambling.
And I was just about to hit that point. Like, literally I could feel that the next words to come out of my mouth were going to make no sense whatsoever.
And that’s when the mic shut off.
For a moment I thought Sweet G had intervened from above. Saving me from myself. Because that’s who he was.
Then I look to my left and see Master MJ standing over at the equipment holding up a plug and just smiling his Master MJ smile.
I still think Sweet G had a hand in that.
But it also seems like fair punishment for my bib issues.
At this point it was around 10:30, and I was headed out to meet Rogue at North Mountain.
I wasn’t hungry, but Rogue made me eat a slice of pizza before heading her way. Because she’s met me.
North Mountain Challenge
So my time schedule was already a tad off from my estimate.
But I had to get a loop in on NML. Because people keep taunting me.
And we all know I’m powerless against peer pressure.
And freakin Drinkwater refuses to end this challenge.
He’s just toying with me. I know it.
It was a solid 95 degrees with 128% humidity by the time Rogue and I set out onto the world’s ugliest mountain.
With 12 ounces of hydration each.
Because that’s what we always take onto North Mountain.
Psht. Why would we need to take weather conditions into consideration?
We could see from the jump that the trail was overgrown, so Rogue immediately forced me in front on snake duty.
Because of the two of us, I really am the more observant one.
This should worry people.
About a mile in, we ran into an adorable little guy from Ohio who was doing the Triple Crown and was on day two and a half. Coming down off McAfee and headed over to Dragons Tooth.
He was pretty concerned about bears.
He’d slept in a hammock the night before and apparently a bear had sniffed around his head a bit before giving him a couple of pushes in his hammock and then getting bored.
When he said he’d seen several bears on the mountain, Rogue did a little excited happy dance.
When he said he was scared, Rogue and I both assured him that we have nice bears. Our bears are pretty chill. I mean, that’s right. Right?
We sent him off over to Dragons Tooth with assurances that he could totally make it back over to the McAfee parking lot by tonight and definitely wouldn’t be eaten by anything.
I haven’t seen anything on the news, so I’m pretty sure we were right.
After that encounter, things deteriorated pretty quickly.
We weren’t seeing any bears. We weren’t feeling any breeze. And around four miles in, we had stopped sweating and realized that we had way underestimated our hydration needs. Time to start rationing.
Four miles in.
On a ten mile trail.
By the time we hit the fire road, around mile six, Rogue had stopped talking.
And while I can go an entire marathon without saying a word, Rogue can barely manage two steps without producing mouth sounds.
There is nothing NOTHING eerier than running a trail with Rogue in complete silence.
And we realized that we couldn’t actually run to get back to hydration more quickly. Because running would require hydration…
It was thundering and we were thinking and praying for the skies to open up.
But Mother Nature can be a straight b-word. Because it did start raining. All around us. But not actually on us.
We could legit see the rain falling through the trees.
But we had some sort of force field keeping us totally dry.
And even when we would walk into the trees towards the rain…still no rain.
By the time we made it to the top of Deer, every single part of our bodies hurt. Everything. And we each only had one sip of water left. And there may have been some poop urgency.
This is what it feels like when your body start shutting down one dehydrated organ at a time.
We definitely spent the last five or six miles of that trail fantasizing about the liquids we were going to consume if we made it off the mountain and back to our cars.
Which we did.
We drove immediately to the store and each purchased water, Coke, and a popsicle.
It was amazing.
And by the time we came out of our dehydration coma, it was 6:00pm.
I’m not sure where exactly we lost time. But we absolutely lost a good hour somewhere out on that mountain.
We did finally go to dinner. But my body was so pissy by that point that I barely managed four bites of pasta.
I think it was about 8:30pm by the time I got home and showered and crawled into bed.
So yeah. My time estimate was off a bit.
Day Creek Bullshit
Start time: 6:30am
So, if you haven’t been keeping track, let me catch you up.
On Saturday I burned approximately 2,500 calories. And consumed one slice of pizza and four bites of pasta.
Now, I don’t know the math on all of that, but I can tell you that that was definitely not enough food to head back out for 13 more mountain miles on.
But Tiny Brazilian needed to get in some miles, and Rogue and I promised her, and Skratch and Goatfinder were bringing their adorable Trail Dog Sam to run with us.
And really. FOMO. It’s a legit condition.
I should probably seek some counseling or prescription or something for it.
I’ve already explained this route before when Rogue and I did our Promiseland Parallel Run.
So you already know how miserable I was right from the start.
Thankfully Goatfinder was willing to hang back with me.
And Trail Dog Sam kept coming back to check on us. (I mean, she was probably checking on her mom, but I like to think that she could sense my weakness and was duly concerned for my welfare, too.)
Now, Rogue is going to tell you that she pointed out several times that we were on a trail that we hadn’t been on the first time we did this route.
But she does this, you know? Points out that we’re on the wrong track, but doesn’t move us back onto the right track.
Luckily for everyone, I was there to help us find our way.
I led us back onto the correct route.
I did that.
Fine. Don’t believe me.
Now, when we finally hit the last two mile climb, I was fading fast.
And Goatfinder wasn’t feeling too much better, because she damn near pummeled Tiny Brazilian when she said, “it’s only a mile and a half up.”
First of all, it’s two miles.
And B, don’t ever put the words “it’s only” in front of mile and a half anything. Ever.
And then Tiny Brazilian will throw little empty promises of hope at you when you’re in this condition.
“This is the last climb. We’re almost there.”
“How do you know this.”
“I can feel it.”
And so maybe you believe her.
Because maybe you need to believe her.
And then maybe you come around the corner. To the continued climb.
“This is it this time.”
“Don’t play with me, TB.”
And then another corner. And more climbing.
“I’m sure of it this time. This is the last climb.”
I was so weak by this point that I was walking into trees. Trees that I knew were there.
Because after I walked straight into one jabbing a bunch of pine needles into my right eyeball, Goatfinder made Skratch start calling them out.
Which he did.
But even when he did, and I would see the actual tree, I still walked straight into it.
In a beautiful show of self-less friendship, Rogue began holding branches up for me to safely traverse under.
But I was a lost cause.
Because by the time we hit the last two mile descent back to our cars, I was no longer in my actual body.
I was dizzy. And my hands were tingly. And I was damn close to just lying down on the side of the trail to nap a bit before going the rest of the way to my car. Or maybe just living there.
But I could tell that Skratch and Goatfinder and Trail Dog Sam were legitimately concerned about me and wouldn’t leave me there alone, so I kept kind of stumbling on down the trail.
Still not in my body, though.
My mind was in a whole notha place.
It was in a place with hot dogs and soda and no shoes.
That’s what I was fantasizing about during my out of body experience.
A redneck barbecue.
They finally made me eat something.
I had one bite left of the Kind bar that I’d been grazing on throughout the “run.”
When a single bite of Kind bar is the most delectable food you’ve ever tasted, you know you are desperate for fuel.
It was enough to get me back to my car.
And over to the gas station.
Where I made my fantasy come true.
After two weeks of vampiric parasite symptoms, I crammed:
5,954 feet of elevation
and 4,418 calories burned
into one weekend.
I wasn’t ready.
If you need me, I’ve promised my feet that we’ll only engage in activities that don’t require shoes for at least the next 24 hours.
And searching for physicians that specialize in FOMO. And vampire parasites.