Soooo, Jarmans Invitational Marathon.
Are you familiar with this…event?
It’s a bit of a hidden gem here in Virginia.
Probably not one of those high class gems. Definitely not like a diamond or a sapphire. Sapphires are fancy, right?
I’m gonna say it’s more of like an amethyst. I feel like amethysts are more of your blue collar gem.
I’m just guessing here. I don’t spend time around gems of any class.
At any rate, this…event is pretty low key.
First off, it’s free.
That’s what gets most of us. Particularly the working poor like myself.
Plus it has a pretty tight entry limit. So you have to register pretty quickly to get in.
I assume maybe some folks get invited before that happens. Thus the term “invitational” in the title. The rest of us scrubs have to take our chances trying to get registered before all of the other scrubs.
Or maybe that term is just a bullshit term thrown in to make it sound fancier than it is.
I don’t really know.
I just know I saw the word “free” and also the words “this race is going to suck” and decided that this was exactly the race for me.
So you sign up and then immediately go into “wait, maybe I should have read the details” mode.
Because the race starts at noon.
In the midst of global warming.
And the race directors will spend the next three months telling you, in various media forms, how much this race is going to suck.
The aid stations.
And the course is gonna suck for several reasons.
First, I mean, there is the idea of running up and down, like straight the hell up and straight the fuck back down, 1,500 feet of elevation change. Do you know what 1,500 feet in three miles of descent feels like? After 1,500 feet in three miles straight the hell up?
And fellas weren’t playin when they said there would be plenty of traffic on this single lane road, because folks live on this road and they’re not just shutting down their lives on a Saturday for our dumbasses.
No angry dogs, but there was a pretty pissed off Chihuahua near the bottom of the mountain yelling at all of us to stay the hell off his lawn! Dumbasses!
And another freakin rattle snake. Second one this week. Taking its sweet ass time to move on off the road. And without Tiny Brazilian there to stop me, I almost stepped right on that bitch.
I think they might be following me.
Or maybe it’s just August in Virginia.
Luckily there was a runner on her way up the mountain standing motionless and looking at the ground. I assumed she was just standing there assessing her life choices. Until she told me I should probably not step on the rattlesnake. Right in front of me. Dumbass.
Where? Where is the snake?
In the road.
Yes. I understand that. But where? Is it in front of or behind me? (As I frantically start spinning.)
It’s. Right. There. (Pointing and refraining from calling me a dumbass.)
Oh. Yeah. That. Ok. Cool. Thanks for saving my life.
And there were dead bodies just lying on the side of the road.
I mean, ok. Not a dead dead body.
But I swear to fuck that dude looked dead. He had the lifeless eyes of someone wishing he hadn’t gone back out for a second Loop. When I stumbled on him. And screamed out to my lord and savior to save me. He just laid there, unimpressed.
I did ask if he was ok. After I got my heart restarted. (Always make sure you’re ok first. You can’t save others if you’re not ok.)
He gave a noncommittal nod. Which seemed sufficient to me. I had my own life choices to struggle with.
So, remember that whole Birthday Wish post I wrote? Where I promised things would be amazing once you pushed through the discomfort? Or how I said that you’d start to crave the discomfort?
Yeah, I was calling myself on my own bullshit out there on that mountain.
So here are my phases of decline.
Loop One: I started up the mountain running. Knowing I’d be walking soon enough. Which I was. But I was still kinda delusionally hopeful once I hit the top and ran back down in not horrible time. I was still somewhat lucid, so I was doing the math in my head. Loop one took me an hour and a half. One and one half times five… wait. No. Ok. How about one and one half times two. That’s three. Good. Ok. So I could potentially do two laps in three hours. Which would be four laps in six hours. Except I’m bound to get slower as I progress. So I’m definitely not gonna make five loops in seven hours. But I could potentially make four. Definitely three. Good. Good math. Well done, Sunshine. (It’s important to praise girls on their math skills so they know that math isn’t just for boys.)
Checked in at the bottom. (There are no race bibs or timing mats in this race. You just check in at the end of each loop to get credit.)
Grabbed some water and headed right back up the mountain. That’s the key. You can’t give yourself any time to process or sit or think or hijack a ride back to your car.
You just have to go.
Loop Two: I think maybe I ran some on the way up. It’s kind of a blur. But my pace was similar to Loop One, so I assume I did. Some running. The mountain is bullshittiest in the top mile. It’s relentlessly steep. And there hasn’t been any rain. Because global warming. So the two “waterfalls” are bone dry. And heat exhaustion is hinting about it’s existence. And so I took some time at the aid station at the top to slowly refill my water bottle. So slowly. And then reluctantly jogged back down the mountain. I went back and forth several times on my way back down the mountain about whether or not I needed to do anymore loops. But if you’re debating at all, then that means you’ve still got something left in you, so you better get your ass back out on that mountain.
Checked in at the bottom. Grabbed some fruit and half of a PB&J for the climb up. Because that last hike up, I was feeling the same beginnings of the fuel exhaustion that had left Tiny Brazilian literally pulling my ass up Roanoke Mountain during the Blue Ridge Double.
And let’s talk about that for a second.
Now, maybe the scarring is just too fresh. So maybe check in with Tiny Brazilian and Badass Walters, but I swear to everything that Jarman’s is worse than the Blue Ridge Double. Remember how whiney I was after that one? And how I said that running it was like getting jumped into a gang? This was like you weren’t really jumped into the gang, but you’re definitely that gang’s bitch but also they’re gonna beat you down every time they see you walking up the block.
I mean, even the double let me get an entire marathon distance out of the way before it really went to work beating the actual hell out of me.
This bitch beat me down in under 20.
Loop Three: This was it. This was where my body went into full shutdown mode. That Achilles pain I haven’t whined about since Blue Ridge? Yeah. Felt that shit on loop three. That full-soul quad bruise I got at Spartan last Saturday? Felt that shit intensely. On the downhill. Of loop three. And ok. So, at the start of every descent, I experienced massive PMS-style cramps for the first mile or so. These were not like “I’ve got to take a poo and it’s gonna be messy” kind of cramps. These were “there is something in or near my uterus and I’m gonna squeeze it the hell out immediately” type of cramps. That’s some evil voodoo shit right there. And my knees, which were still vaguely pissed about Wednesday’s smorgasbord of poor fitness decisions, set into full on revolt mode on loop three. And then. And THEN. Hiccups. Hiccups are my body’s warning system. Telling me that it is about to go full rampage on me and cease all operations immediately. Hiccups happen during Blue Ridge Double. Iron Mountain Trail Race. And more recently, every damn time I visit North Mountain. So when they started on the descent of loop three, I knew running would be ill-advised. So I walked. I walked that bitch all the way to the last mile.
And then I ran.
Because I needed this to be over.
I didn’t give a good damn what my body wanted me to do.
I was done.
And when I checked in with Jimmy and asked please can I have my shirt now, he said, “yeah, you’re done. You’ve already made that decision. I can see that.”
Yes, Jimmy. Yes, I have fully processed through all of the emotions and I am so ok with quitting after three loops.
They call it a Slim Jim.
Kind of cool.
Even if it was the worst kind of bullshit I’ve ever run.
But when Danton asked if I’d be back next year. Hell yes.
Because I had a fourth loop in me. It would have broken me down beyond use for the next month. Making IMTR impossible. And that race cost me a whole $25. So obviously I’m not gonna miss it just to prove to myself that I could have managed one more loop.
But I could have done it.
And I didn’t.
And that doesn’t quite sit right with me.
For now, I’ll be content with my three loops. My 18 miles. And my 4,500 feet of climbing. And descending.
Because as homegirl who was listening to me whine as I waited for a ride back to my car said, that wasn’t nothing.
J-Pete, Badass Walters, and Helen of Troy all got their five loops in.
When J-Pete texted to ask how I feel, my response was “like I don’t have enough ice packs for all the places that need them.”
But I’m clean. And fed. And probably stuck on this couch for the foreseeable future.
And I’ll be wearing this for the next several days.
I can’t even care about work dress codes.
I’m sure I’ve got a skirt that will set that t-shirt off nicely.