by John Morelock
Huntsville State Park
March 31, 2007
A Disjointed Hogs Hunt (50K)
Thursday afternoon talking to Dave Emerson and the subject of runs where things go wrong, not big things, just a little this and then a little that–I joked that some of those have been good runs. We parted. He was headed for a hundred miles of Umstead, I was going to Huntsville for the Hogs Hunt 50k.
That phrase about little things going wrong rattled around midst the cobwebs and echo chambers of my minds. Kathy, mi esposa, is many states away.
What all will I forget? I had three bags of baked potatoes to eat along the way so the first discovery wasn’t until the intended shower at the park. I had no towels. Oh, well. I’ll sort everything out for in the morning. Hmmm, that’s a lot of long-sleeved shirts John…I had packed the stack of shirts I was going to take home the next weekend. Dash into town to Wal-Marché and get the deluxe moisture-wicking, made-for-movement shirt for $6.98.
Seats don’t fold down flat. Weird. I forgot the pillows (car camping). I put the seats down as much as I can, use the roll of paper towels for a pillow and find I can pretend to be laying down if I–sleep comes slowly.
I set the alarm on the cell and the watch. The wonderful paranoia of not being at the starting line. I compensate by waking up every seven or eight minutes to see what time it is. I wonder how much battery I am using by opening the cell to see the light. I listen to the owls singing and doze off again.
Thunder and lightning. Light rain. Warm rain. Which shoes? How muddy will it be? Sandy soil, shouldn’t be too bothersome (ignorance is bliss and all that jazz). I don’t really think about the warm rain part and start with my trusty $4.95 blue rain jacket which isn’t tearing apart near as fast as I thought it would.
If you ever get the chance to hear Mahalia Jackson sing, “Didn’t it Rain,” do so. She came to mind as we started, “Lord, didn’t it rain” and off we went–gives image of the men in the Light Brigade joking as they mounted up to ride on–didn’t seem that bad at the time.
Slush, splash, slip, slide, and stumble on down the trail. It was all kinds of things for us to experience and enjoy the trials of nature. Roots, puddles, lakes, streams, red mud, sandy mud, pine needle mud, and on we went twisting and turning through the woods. I get distracted by so many new plants to see. I haven’t seen palmettos in years.
Joe and the Hill Country folks are there at the first aid station, seems so strange to suddenly have people greeting me by name–Bandera is such a good memory. Off we go, running in the solitude among so many other runners–I listen to stories of many strange names.
After the disaster at Syllamo I am cautious with food and salt. I probably have enough SUCCEED! with me for eight other people. I drop pills, eat chips, say thank you, and move on.
Red Bird, rlynntx, and Mary Ellen (later I find out her alias) are at the “2.8 miles to the end” aid station. I am stunned. The wheels have just started to come undone. My head is made up of numbers from so many years gone by. I promise to be back before dark and head for the end of lap one. The “Oh, I would be tickled pick with 7:00-7:30” thoughts have just been cast aside. I hit the turn at 2:57:01…uh oh. The demons are about to come out.
We have lots of conversations on the way to the the HCTR aid station. Lemmme see, 15.5 + 4,…jeez, there’s less than 12 to go. Don’t look. Stop at the aid station, eat a bite of two, joke, go, do not look at the watch, just relax and run.
I had given my third bag of potatoes to the folks at the next to the last aid station. I pulled in, spotted a plate of potatoes and smiled at my masterful planning, grabbed three pieces, took the topped off bottle, and headed out.
Twists and turns, roots and puddles (and two lakes) and a very kind Bill Molar–he asked if I minded if he ran along. He wanted someone to talk to for a ways–how often have I said “I talk to much?” I talked, he listened and asked questions of other places. Roots passed by, puddles were crossed, the switchbacks were entered–good grief, we are on the stretch to the last aid station. My mind, never too steady on a good day, is shot. They top my bottle.
I apologize for being a jerk. We head for home. “I just can’t believe this.”
Climb, turn, walk on stretch, hold head in place, drink, wonder why the young woman that just passed doesn’t sink in the mud like I do. Pavement. A mile, maybe less, doesn’t matter anymore.
I just can’t believe this. It is done. Bill and I take turns thanking the other for pulling the other through the second loop. I know he did more work than I did.
He had to listen to me. I just blathered and ran.
It took thirty minutes for me to settle down, change shoes, and start the drive for Frisco. I called my wife, but she was out, probably on our trails on the island. I spoke very slowly into voice-mail, “six twenty oh nine.”
Whataburger, Starbuck’s, cruse control from rest area to rest area, and a giggle every now and then seems to be the order of the afternoon.
Run gently out there.