On Getting Sick and Getting Lost

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Nyquil and Nueces Map

 

I knew I was already sick before we got to Camp Eagle. My overly cautious side wanted to stay home and get better, but the wheels were already in motion. Plans had been made and it would take more than a cold to keep me from checking out the race course.

My plan was to sleep once we got there, but not surprisingly, that didn’t quite work out. Everyone was having a good time talking about running and races and drinking beer – even some home brew! Brian had brought some of his creations and was sharing with everyone. I would have loved to have a sip, but I’ve told myself I am not going to drink this year. So I made due with a coconut juice.

I didn’t get as much sleep as I would have liked, but I still felt okay in the morning, considering. The forecast I saw called for partly sunny 60’s and low 70’s. Instead, it was overcast and chilly. That’s when I made my smartest move of the day and put on my running jacket. It’s windproof, weatherproof, and bright neon orange which would be easier for the helicopter to spot the body.

There was about a dozen of us, and it took forever to round everyone up, like herding cats. Once we got rolling, it was pretty nice. The trails were really windy and full of rocks. Tons of switchbacks that had me lost in no time. And eventually we would meet some pretty intense hills.

I didn’t want to slow anyone else down, so I was the very last person in the pack. I realized following a bunch of people on single track is like driving in traffic; when someone up front slows down, everyone following him has to slow down, and that sort of ruins everyone’s rhythm. To avoid this stop and go business, I tried to give a bigger cushion between me and Matt.

Maybe Elizabeth was using the same strategy because after about a half hour, she’d completely lost whoever she was following. And so we stopped. Elizabeth, Anna, Matthew and I were now separated from the group. We didn’t think it was too big of a deal. Anna and Elizabeth both had run the course the previous year and both Anna and Matthew had maps. We figured we were fine.

Our host Chris had mentioned that it was a smaller park, and that you couldn’t really get lost. Well now that’s just not true, you can get lost and it’s VERY EASY. To add the slightest of insults, it started to sprinkle. Nothing serious, but I was glad I’d worn my jacket and not just a long-sleeved shirt.

Several times we thought we were on course, but somehow got derailed each time. Along the way, I got to meet the big hill of the course. You go up a steep grade to what looks like the top, only to find that you’re only half way up. I don’t know if it has a name, but I imagine it would not be a family friendly name to print.

Surprisingly, I was able to “run” up the hill, almost the entire length. The others razzed me for “showing off” and I told them, “Hey, I’m going to have to run this hill in 2 weeks. I need all the practice I can get.” So they offered to wait while I ran it again. Yeah, I think it was their idea, not mine. But I was glad to take them up on it. I ran back to the base of the hill and chugged my way to the top. And then we went “exploring” again.

It was frustrating, not knowing where we were, despite having a map. But it was also fun. Everyone had a pretty relaxed attitude and took it all in stride. It was an adventure finding our way back. Meanwhile we just talked and ran and walked and tried to guess which way to go.

We were walking up the hill to the windmill we’d stopped by earlier. We’d covered probably 15 miles by this point, and I was ready to be done with being lost. I told Matthew nothing would make me happier right now than to see someone roll up in a pick up truck and take us back to camp. (Things weren’t that bad, I was just tired.)

And maybe twenty minutes later, we hear some noises… sounds like… people! We run a little faster and at the top of the hill we see one of those souped up off-road golf carts fly by. We wave at them, trying to flag them down. They stop and we hustle up to them. They ask us if we’re okay and we reply without a hint of shame, “We’re LOST.” One of them tells us where to go, basically just down the dirt road and take a left. Somewhat surprisingly, they don’t offer us a ride, (they already had several riders and maybe one or two free seats) but they do ask if we had water.

Now that we know which way the camp is, there’s a huge sense of relief. My foot is hurting in the same place after pacing Rachel, I’m tired and hungry. I want to take a warm shower.

I didn’t get to do my 32 miles, but ended up doing at least 16, with a cold, so I’ll take that.

*   *   *   *   *

Elizabeth and I left Camp eagle, both of us hungry still. We stopped at the only store around, a tiny gas station that sold BBQ sandwiches and had all sorts of pickled products. I bought some Habanero stuffed olives and she bought some jerky for her brother. And we both got a brisket sandwich. Not an ideal post-run lunch, but it was better than waiting two hours to get back to town.

When we got back to San Antonio, first thing I did was to buy a bottle of Nyquil. Normally when I’m sick, I take a few slugs, go to sleep and sweat out all the bad stuff. Usually it works like magic. Not this time.

Several Emergen C’s, countless Cold-eeZe zinc drops, 4 bowls of chicken noodle soups (two of which were made by my mom) a Theraflu,  2 cartons of OJ, and a whole bottle of Nyquil were not enough to put down this cold.

I slept all day Sunday and most of Monday. Here it is Tuesday. I’m still not 100%. I don’t have as much of the body aches but I have developed a serious hacking cough. My throat feels like it’s being sanded with 60 grit whenever I cough. Which seems to be every five minutes.

The race is two weeks away. I’m sure I’ll be 100% by then. I need to reconsider my workout plans. I really should start tapering pretty soon, so maybe this is a good thing. My body’s just telling me, “Hey dude, take it easy, you can’t always be pushing.” So maybe that’s what I’ll do. Try and go a bit easier. Until it’s time to push again.

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