“Is it ok to get oil on this?”
I was lying face down on the massage table, so I couldn’t see what she was pointing at. I assumed she meant my tattoo. So I said, Oh yeah. That’s a few years old by now.
“Really? Oh wow. What did this?”
And I haven’t seen my tattoo in a while. I mean, I never look back there. But damn. What the hell has it turned into that she has to ask?
Ummmm, a needle? Like, an electric one? With ink in it. I mean, I think it was a pretty standard tattoo needle thingy.
“Oh. No, honey. I mean this.” And she touched my back.
Oh shit. Yeah. That. That’s chafing. That’s definitely a lot of chafing. From my sports bra. It’s fine. That happens after about 15 miles or so.
And I almost. I almost told her, you think that’s bad, you should see the chafing I got from my running tights.
But then I heard Rogue’s voice in my head saying, just stop talking, Sunshine. So I stopped talking.
While massage lady proceeded to spent the next hour beating the hell out of my shoulders and back. Trying to undo what two weeks of SOL testing and truancy and an almost 50k had done.
Saturday night, I went to go pee. And when I started to pull my pants down. I fell over.
Like, just fell to the left. Head first. Into the bathtub.
When I told Beautiful Beastie this story. Her response was to try to diagnose a medical cause.
When I told Rogue and Fall Risk. Their response was to tell me to stop wearing pants.
There was no immediate precursor to this event. My legs didn’t cramp up. I wasn’t hit with a sudden bout of dizziness. I didn’t lose my balance trying to pull my pants down. I just…
One minute I was standing there. The next minute I was falling over.
I’m gonna chalk this one up to attempted 50k.
I had such high hopes going in.
I mean, not high enough to actually prep for it. But I didn’t really have to prep.
I’d be running by my car every five miles. And there would be an aid station at the halfway point.
Most 50k’s you’ve got to carry a hydration pack. Plan snacks. Study maps and aid station timing. Know the course. Maybe even put together drop bags.
If you’re organized.
It’s the organized people that study maps and aid station timing and know the course and assemble drop bags.
I’m not organized people.
But 5 mile loops? You can just fill your car up with everything you need and not have to worry about any kind of planning.
If you’re organized.
The organized people could fill their cars up with everything they needed.
I’m not organized people.
But I didn’t really have to be. Because Everyone’s Favorite Husband was in charge of aid stationing. And if you know Everyone’s Favorite Husband. You know that aid station was gonna be better stocked than my home after a recent trip to the grocery store.
How is one supposed to not nest at an aid station like that?
But also, this was important.
Because I didn’t have a second last week to prep for this race.
I’d thought a little about my plan. To start super early. And knock out 2-3 loops as fast as possible. Before the sun came up and my body understood what was happening. And then slowing way down by the time everyone else showed up. And still finishing at a reasonable time. To get home to my Lobo.
So Friday night I downloaded some audiobooks, threw a bunch of clothes into a bag, and went to bed early.
There. All prepped.
Saturday morning, I woke up easily. At 3:00am. Like, almost too easily. It was kind of creepy how easily I woke up at 3am.
But I enjoyed some coffee. Pulled on my warmest running tights. Poured some hot bone broth into a container. And headed to Boones Mill.
Drove by two runners heading out on a counter-clockwise loop as I was pulling up to the brewery. Which was cool. Because I didn’t especially want to run that loop completely alone in the dark.
There are coyotes out there.
Got out the car. And it was…cold. Like. COLD cold.
So, I pulled on my puffy coat and gloves. Started my audiobook. And headed out for my first loop.
And immediately slid across the road.
There goes my super fast first loop plan.
By the time I made it the mile and a half to the first turn, the two runners that had started out the opposite direction were already passing me.
Which surprised me at first. That they could cover 3 1/2 miles. With 2 of that being intense climbing. In the time it took me to cover 1 1/2 of relatively flat.
But later I realized it was Master Mountain Junkie and the Deckster. (I don’t know. He doesn’t have a nickname. Because I never ever ever run with him. For the very reason I am explaining here. I will never ever be in his pace group.)
They finished that loop in like 40 minutes. Or some ridiculous time.
I managed my first loop in an hour.
Got back to my car. Shed my puffy coat and gloves. Took in some hot broth. And headed out for my second loop. Counter-clockwise. The way we always run it. This loop that I have run exactly 24 times. Prior to this race.
I know that I had run it exactly 24 times. Because I checked my Strava. For the purpose of telling this story.
Remember those 9 right turn arrows I told you about in Chaos 50k: The Race?
I headed out for my second loop. And.
Ok. So, you know how when people are giving you directions they’ll say some dumb shit like, “there’s no way you can get lost.”
And for most humans, that’s a comforting phrase. But for me, my brain hears that and immediately says, “here hold this while I figure out a way to just wildly fuck shit up.”
Don’t say that shit to me. My brain takes it as a challenge. I can always. Always. Get lost.
It was still dark out. As I was heading out for my second loop. At the same time the 50 car caravan of runners was driving in. With their headlights. So many headlights. And somehow the road I was supposed to turn onto closed up. Just. Like a disappearing portal. In the midst of the millions of headlights.
I was a good. I don’t know. Quarter mile? Past my turn when I started to feel like I’d been running too long. Without turning.
Which. The mere fact that it only took 1/4 mile in the dark for me to realize…I mean. That’s not nothing.
So, I turned around and ran back. To my turn. Trying to get there before anyone else drove past and saw me off course. Because that would be embarrassing.
Managed to get back to my turn. Just as Rogue was driving past. And avoided that embarrassment.
But also. Why didn’t any of those 500 cars alert me as they were passing me?
And where the fuck were the arrows??
We’re gonna call this GJB’s fault.
Got to the top of the route as Everyone’s Favorite Husband and his volunteers were starting to set up the aid station for the ages.
There was no food out yet. So I just said hello and kept going.
The daylight was starting to make it’s way out. Along with some snow. And I was actively freezing. By the time I made it back to my car.
Where GJB had left my race bib.
And that loop had taken me over an hour.
Grabbed some more hot broth. And pulled my puffy coat and gloves back on.
Ran into Puppy Whisperer as I was heading back out for my third loop.
And because he didn’t know the route. He opted to run with me.
But it was fine.
The sun was up by then. There was almost zero risk of me getting us lost.
I mean, he had to slow his pace way down. To allow me to guide him. But I did not get him lost.
And when we got to the top of the climb. There it was.
The most glorious of all the aid stations in all the histories.
And EFH had coffee. With macadamia nut liqueur.
I mean. I may have lingered longer than I should have. But coffee.
It gave me just the boost I needed to get myself back down to my car.
I was over 16 miles in at that point. And officially at my longest mileage since before school started.
And my body was starting to make itself known.
Particularly my right hamstring.
And there was something…happening with my running tights…
So I downed the last of my hot broth. And rushed back out for my fourth loop. Before my brain had a chance to put me in the car and turn on the seat heater.
Ran into Rogue on my way back out. As she was coming in. And we chatted about all the ways we were unprepared for this.
Checked in with GJB. Who appeared to be having the time of his life. And climbed a bit with Beautiful Beastie and 100 Miler.
And here is what was really cool about this race for people like me. You know. The awkward people.
I got to run my own race. Without pressure to maintain any kind of pace for my running partners. And I got to be hella social without having to figure out actual words to say to people.
We were all just out there doing our own thing. Together.
Got to the top of the climb. And nested myself right into the aid station. I mean, just right up in there. Nested the hell out of it in front of the heater as I sipped my special coffee and chatted with everyone.
But I eventually forced myself to move on. Because my right hamstring was quickly shrinking up on me.
And that thing that was happening with my running tights was getting pretty intense. I was starting to experience. I’m gonna go ahead and call it a wardrobe malfunction. Because the tights. They were causing…rubbing. And not, like, a good kind of rubbing.
It was definitely a “dude, if you don’t know how to do this then just stop” kind of rubbing. But with, like, sandpaper.
And I was trying to run in such a way as to stop the rubbing. But that really just requires you to hold the seem of the crotch away from your body. And people were taking pictures. And Bizarro Beastie had already given me permission to stop when it wasn’t fun anymore.
This was definitely not fun.
And in all of my collection of clothes I’d thrown into a bag. I had not thrown in a pair of back up tights.
And by the time I made it back to my car. I was having visions of the massive amounts of chafing happening. Just…so much chafing.
And I’d noticed that Master Mountain Junkie and The Deckster (seriously, someone who can actually run with this dude give him a damn nickname) had gone inside the brewery. And hadn’t come out.
And Rogue had finished up her last loop for the day.
So I decided that. Rather than risk permanent mutilation of an area that I might need again someday. I’d be content with 21 miles for the day.
Had myself a double chocolate stout. And cookies. As a reward. Which was exactly the right reward. And then got the hell out of there before GJB could get back and rip my race bib off of my leg. For not finishing.
Because that race bib is mine. I two thirds earned it. And as soon as my nether parts heal. I’m gonna probably go back and three thirds earn it for real.