It’s the Simple Things: Station Bridge to Ottawa
Last year I crashed here. Actually, this was the beginning of the downhill slide into heat-related gastrointestinal madness last year.
This year, I feel good. Really good.
I’m overwhelmed at how well my revised nutrition plan is working. I’ve been practicing it most of the summer, and it’s working flawlessly. I have the timer set on my watch, and every hour I take a Clif SHOT and eat a couple pinches of margarita salt. I’m supplementing with potato chips, watermelon and bananas at the aid stations, and if I start feeling hungry, I have a couple Stinger chews.
My energy is good. My legs are loose. And while I’ve usually started with Coke/caffeine at the Covered Bridge, I’m hoping to hold off on it until mile 50.
And then there’s this water crossing. I knew there had been some course changes in this section, but this was … unexpected. And deep. And bordered on the other side by a vertical climb. So vertical, in fact, that Lloyd Thomas was perched there to inform us there was a ROPE to help us up.
But yeah, that did it.
The jig was up, and I started crashing hard.
It washed over me like a tidal wave, gripped me by my shoulders and body-slammed me at once. I felt like I was running through water, throwing myself against a brick wall. My energy drained out of my body like a car tire being sliced open and my legs tightened on cue. I recognized it, I knew what it was, and I didn’t let myself freak out about it. But God, I felt awful.
I reminded myself that it was later than usual for my first crash, a good sign. I reminded myself that I had generous 13 minute miles coming for the sections after Ottawa, so it was okay to slow a little if I needed to. I could make it back up. Ottawa. Ottawa was good. From there it was the Buckeye Trail 50K course, and from Pine Line I went to Happy Days. Yeah, I just needed to focus on getting to Happy Days, I thought blurrily. Happy Days.
“Happy Days?!?!?” my brain shouted. “That’s 23 miles from here!”
It was almost as bad as deliberate math.
I got to the unmanned water jugs and stopped to drink even though the Camelback was full. Then I got a grip on myself.
Experience tells us that if we take in some calories, keep moving, and instill ourselves with positivity, this will pass. We will have multiple bad patches in a 100 miler, and they can all be overcome.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, but that’s what I tell other people. You mean I have to practice what I preach? Ugh.
I’m stuck on a boring flat straight and I hate it. Yes, it’s trail, but I run better on the rollers, on the switchbacks. There’s too much time to think on flat straights.
I dig out the Stinger chews and demand that five be swallowed. I take an extra pinch of salt and force three generous swallows of Gatorade.
I then command myself to run.
And it’s really not as bad as I’ve made it out to be. I’m certainly not whooping for joy, but I’m hardly at death’s door.
Three minutes later, it’s no better.
So I plaster on the smile and force myself to think “happy thoughts”. I think about laying on the couch at home, Darris on the left side, me on the right. We are drinking mojitos and watching “The Office” with dinner. I remind myself that no matter what happens out here today, Monday night I’m going to be on the couch with the summer air blowing in through the windows. And it’s going to be okay.
It’s going to be okay.
I grin like a Cheshire cat and start chanting in my head.
“It will get better, it will get better, it will get better, it will get better.”
Five minutes out from Ottawa, I’m high as a kite. There might have been kryptonite in those Stinger chews.