Ultrarunners are ridiculous.
We are. We are absolutely ridiculous humans. That do ridiculous things. Without question.
My new Holiday Lake 50k race shirt may be one of my most traumatic. And I didn’t even run the race. But I’m gonna wear the hell out of this shirt.
Let me tell you why.
Got a snow day from work yesterday. Because ice.
We had some ice fall overnight.
Appomattox. Site of the Holiday Lake 50k. Had more ice fall overnight.
And the forecast called for more. Today.
Like, a LOT more.
So Rogue and I spent the day debating on whether or not to make the drive to Appomattox (not Appamattox, Rogue) for today’s Holiday Lake ultra.
In the background was GJB…we’ll call it subtly encouraging us to do it.
GJB doesn’t cancel. Even when he should.
SCT, who was in charge of packet pick up and dinner plans, was the first to drop. And normally I like to be all judgey towards SCT. But no. That was a reasonable call.
But after reviewing the weather forecasts for every county between here and there. Rogue and I decided to head down last night to check out the roads and make the call from there. The real ice wasn’t supposed to start until today anyway.
That was probably the point at which things started going wrong.
Universe saw Rogue and I planning. Together. During a pandemic. And state of emergency. And said, “*SIGH* Well, ok. If you’re sure. I guess we’re doing this.”
And I guess at some point I offered to sub in for SCT. And pick up race packets?
And everyone was just cool with that?
Like nothing could possibly go wrong with sending me for the race packets?
And the drive down 460 was fine.
Enjoyed the latest GJBeat Podcast on the way.
Got to Appomattox Inn around 4:30. Which was my first error. Because I was trying to go straight to Holiday Lake. For packet pick up. But Waze sent me to the Inn.
No worries. Lemme just put in this new address…
And I was on my way back across 24.
Towards Holiday Lake.
Killed a bird on the way.
One of those red ones.
It was pretty traumatic at the time. But then things got traumaticer. So I feel like it only gets a mention here.
And birds aren’t real, anyway. So…meh.
Entered Holiday Lake 4-H Educational forest park place around 4:45.
Just five more miles to get to packet pick up.
Five miles of this.
Just so much ice.
So I spent the next 15 minutes crawling down the road. As bird drones swooped in front of my car. Which in retrospect I think may have been Big Brother actually trying to look out for me? Like, send me a warning? To turn back. Turn back now. Abandon mission.
And around 3 1/2 miles down this 5 mile road. My brain said, “WAIT! Packet pick up is at the pizza place in Forest! They’re not doing pack pick up here until tomorrow morning!”
So I turned around.
Didn’t even try to verify what my brain was telling me.
Didn’t think, “Well, I’m so close. May as well go ahead to the end just in case I’m remembering wrong…”
Just turned around.
And turning around. On this road. Meant doing a three point turn. On solid ice. Just praying no cars come while you’re trying not to rush.
And I did it.
And after I turned around. I searched for the email. And as I read it. It says right there. “Packet pick up will be at Sourdough Pizza Co tonight.”
Wazed how far away Sourdough Pizza Co was. Forty minutes.
Well, that’s not happening.
So I voice messaged everyone. Telling them my error.
And GJB calls. “The fuck are you doing?”
Packet pick up is in Forest tonight.
“I thought it was at the race site tonight.”
No. The email said Forest tonight.
“Was there anyone at the race site when you got there?”
…I don’t actually know…I turned around about a mile and a half out…
“The fuck are you doing?”
So, I re-read the email.
The email was from Thursday. Packet pick was in Forest on THURSDAY.
Another three point turn. On solid ice.
Back into the vortex.
And I’d turned off Waze at that point.
Because I was tired of her yelling at me.
And I thought the place I was going was a straight shot into the park. Just five miles straight in.
But around 4 miles in. I passed a road that said “Holiday Lake” or “4-H” or something. I’m gonna be real. It’s a blur. I don’t really remember what the sign said. I just know that something in my brain said, “that’s the road you want to take. Look. It has the name of the place and everything.”
And obviously my brain had proven it could be trusted at that point…
So, I did another three point turn. On solid ice. This time with cars coming at me.
But I was expecting them to turn onto that road. Before they got to me.
We’re all going to packet pick up, right?
They didn’t turn.
I got turned around before anyone had to try to stop. On the solid sheet of ice. And they kept going. As I went back to turn onto that road.
So, let me Waze this place again. Just in case. Because I should only be a few minutes away.
I was forty minutes away.
And I looked at the map. And I was on a loop. It would eventually loop back. Somewhere. Forty minutes later.
So, I did another three point turn. On solid ice. And went back towards the first road.
Which is when AD messaged. “Are you here Sunshine? Want company?”
Yes, AD. I am here. And I’m never getting out again. Please help.
But she couldn’t hear my breakdown.
Because I was four miles into the park at that point. Which is where the universe cuts off all communications with the outside world.
I eventually made it. To packet pick up. Around 6pm.
And as I stood outside. On ice. And mud. Waiting to get in. Freezing. And traumatized. I was pretty sure I wasn’t gonna do this again the next morning.
But at that point. I was still semi willing to ride in with one of the others. And still run the race.
I did get to pet a cat. While I waited.
That was nice.
Got inside. And gave the list of packets I was picking up. Sunshine Richards. “That’s a cool name!” Thanks. SCT. “Go Hokies!” I don’t know what that means. GJB. AD. Rogue.
“Here are your bibs. Go ahead and pick out the shirts you need.”
But…what sizes did they request?
“I don’t know. Just pick what you think they want.”
What I think…But…my brain…it shut down at the second three point ice turn…
Can’t ask them…
People waiting outside…
Pressure to hurry…
These look big. Are they big? Fuck it. Girls get small. Boys get large.
Because my brain reverts to basic childhood stereotypes when in trauma.
Wait. There are no names on these bibs. How do I know which is whose?
“There was an email that went out with bib numbers.”
Email. Right. I’m…really good at reading those…
Back in my car and crawling back out of the Holiday Lake ice loop trauma vortex.
And somehow. I don’t know how. But somehow managed to make it back to the Inn. To wait for Rogue.
And as I was waiting. My momma messaged me. Basically telling me to get my ass back home.
So, when Rogue got there. And hopped in my car. So we could go meet GJ for food. I told her. Momma said I had to go home. I can’t stay and play with you guys.
And apparently she’d stopped looking at messages from her momma. Who was probably saying the same thing.
Dude. You don’t fuck with Mexican and Southern mommas.
So, we agreed that we’d listen to our mommas. And go home. After dinner.
Got to the spot SCT had picked out for us to eat at.
No indoor dining.
Fine. I’ll eat in my car. I don’t even care. I won’t make it home without food.
Got to the order window.
“Sorry folks. We’re out of pizza dough.”
But…this is a pizza place…Pizza is what you do…how do you run out of the one thing that you do…?
But he directed us to another place. Where we could eat. And where I could pee. Inside. Because I’d had to pee since crossing the county into Appomattox. Hours ago. And I was damn sure about to just let it all go there in the parking lot.
But I’m a big girl now. So I held it. Until we got to the other restaurant.
And I peed in the bathroom.
And we ate food.
And we talked for a while.
Because that was really all Rogue wanted anyway. Was socialization.
And I threw a bunch of race bibs at GJB. And wished him luck figuring them all out.
And then Rogue and I. In our infinite adult good decision making wisdom. Went home.
I want you to remember this moment.
This very moment.
That overrides all previous moments.
Never again can you suggest that Rogue and I are poor decision makers.
Because the shit show that is happening at Holiday Lake right now…
I don’t know for sure.
But I don’t think there is going to be a race today.
Based on messages. And the Facebooks. The only folks that managed to get to the race are the ones who slept in those bungalows onsite.
And I think that they may just live there now.
Everyone else is having to three point turn. On solid ice. To get out. And go home.
And the level of vindication I am feeling this morning.
I’m gonna wear the hell out of this shirt.
Not only because I earned it.
And I ABSOLUTELY earned it.
But because it now represents my ability to make the absolute best of decisions.
UPDATE: They are racing. The ones that made it in. I’m pretty sure they just live there now.
UPDATED UPDATE: AD ran it. And finished it. Because she is a badass.