It was a beautiful May morning from what I remember, although I’ll admit I’ve mostly blocked everything about that day from my memory. Gary and I were training for the Pack Monadnock 10 Miler and wanted to do a trial run (ha! get it?) on the course. Since my apartment is basically where the race starts and “Pack” (as I affectionately call it because I’m always too lazy to say its whole name)—where the race ends—is pretty much the halfway point between where we live, we agreed to meet at Pack around 10:30am with a plan to: leave Car A at the mountain, drive back to Wilton in Car B, run the 10-mile course at a regular long-run pace, then drive Car A back to my place for some well-deserved post-run beers.
I’m sure you’re smart enough to realize that things didn’t quite go according to plan.
I got to Pack first (I’m NEVER the first one anywhere, so I’m blaming the ill-fatedness of this run on that), paid $4 to park (the mountain is a state park) and explained to the ranger what we were doing to make sure they wouldn’t make us pay again when we ran by later, and put on my running shoes. When Gary showed up a few minutes later, I made sure my parking receipt was in my pocket and hopped in his car. On the way back to Wilton, we Tina-groaned about all the hills, stopped to drop some Gatorade by the side of the road, and questioned why we were even doing this approximately 6 times. At 10:45am, we started up the first of roughly 4,483 hills. At 10:48am (I’m guessing), I was ready to quit and already couldn’t wait to get back to my car and put my flip flops on.
In spite of all the hills, I actually really like the course. It’s all on back roads through Wilton and Temple, so it’s pretty quiet with hardly any traffic; in fact, I’m positive we encountered more dog walkers, cyclists, and horses than cars. I was also able to maintain a much better pace than I thought I would—especially since I was still a little sore from crashing my bike two days earlier—which was a nice morale booster.
After 5.5 miles (and 500ish feet of climbing), we made it to our Gatorade stash. The temperature was rising fast and the Gatorade was already warm despite being ice cold less than an hour ago. But it was still refreshing enough, and knowing that we were more than halfway done was another nice mental boost. We drank enough so that we could spend the next few minutes complaining about being able to hear it slosh around in our bellies and continued on our way.
Somewhere around the 7-mile mark, you get a REALLY nice view of Pack. Enough of a view to make you realize just how close you are to finally being done. Literally all I could think of when I saw the mountain was getting out of my sneakers (I was in my least favorite of all my running shoes) and into my flip flops. The downside of realizing you’re almost done is knowing that the end is the hardest.
Sheer panic suddenly coursed through my entire body. “Oh, fuck.”
“I know,” Gary half-laughed at me, thinking I was merely dreading the sustained 3-mile climb to the finish.
“No, really,” I said before disintegrating into a broken record: “Shit. FUCK. Please don’t hate me!” became my mantra for the moment.
I stopped moving and watched Gary’s face changed as it hit him—I didn’t have my car key.
He ran ahead a bit to water a tree and I paced around berating myself for being so concerned with making sure my stupid parking ticket was in my pocket that I neglected to notice it was the only thing in my pocket. We discussed our options, all of which were terrible. Tim was hiking up north and Gary’s wife and daughter weren’t around, so there was nobody close by to rescue us. I suggested calling my mom or dad, but realized that by the time either of them would have been able to get us, we could have just run back to Gary’s car.
So that’s what we did.
The Gatorade was straight-up hot when we stopped to finish it off on the way back. The fact that there were no cars on the road—once at the top of the “pro” list—quickly reoriented itself at the top of the “con” list as it made hitchhiking impossible (although I’m sure no one would have allowed my sweaty ass in their car anyway).
Fourteen miles into our 10 mile run, I stood outside of my building trying to not throw up and thanking Gary for not murdering me between dry heaves. We considered grabbing a beer, but quickly decided against it and just drank all of the water in my fridge instead. He drove me back to Pack, mentioned how “hilarious” it would be if I discovered that I’d actually had my key with me the whole time, and pushed me out of his car.
Six hours, a shower, and about a gallon of water later, I finally started to feel human again.