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Catawba Run But Not Around

So, my girls ran the Athens Marathon yesterday. Or they are running it. Yesterday. Or maybe they’re running it right now.

I don’t really understand the time-space continuum between continents.

I might’ve figured it out during the time I lived in Ireland. If I’d made it outside of a pub every now and then.

Also, I’m refusing to acknowledge their posts on Facebook or Insta. Until they’re back in country. That’s how we do when one of us can’t go on an adventure. We just pretend it’s not happening until it’s over. And then we just reminisce like it’s a really old memory.

At any rate, Rogue and Tiny Brazilian and Stone and Rhodes are over there. In Greece. Doing epic things. That I’m trying to ignore. Because poverty.

So I decided that giving the 30 mile Catawba Run Around a go would be a solid distraction.

Except I was watching to see who else was gonna go.

Because I was pretty sure I’d be the slowest one. And since my normal escorts are out of country right now, I was also pretty sure I wouldn’t actually go.

But then Beautiful Beastie asked if I’d go. And even though she’s way more badass than me, I figured she must be ok with moving at a sloth’s pace. Otherwise she’d have asked someone else.

Or maybe she did.

And no one else would go…


She convinced OT to go, too.

And honestly, I was maybe feeling a little overconfident coming off of Pilot Mountain 50k with a decent time and very little post-race fatigue.

And I think maybe that’s why I didn’t listen to BB when she said, “No leg day this week, Sunshine.” And told me to rest.

But in my defense, she also definitely did not rest. She taught, like, 50 strength and cycle classes this week.

And some of y’all had apparently been watching my week unfold. And anticipating what was about to happen yesterday.

Got this message before starting out yesterday morning.

I laughed.

But also, I didn’t know the route we were running.

I mean, I knew somewhere in my being that it involved places like McAfee and Tinker Cliffs and North Mountain…

But despite the amount of time I’ve spent in these places in recent years, I still have no real understanding of how they’re connected.

I’ve done the 311-220 route a few times now and I still can’t comprehend how we start out at McAfee and end up in Daleville. Which I sometimes call Danville. But I’m not the jackass that chose practically the same name for two places in such close proximity.

But then, I also confuse Charlottesville and Christiansburg quite a bit, so…

So, anyway. We met OT at Andy Lane. Dumped a bunch of food in his car for a mid-run aid station. And drove over to McAfee.

And it was hovering somewhere around 20 degrees.

So we didn’t expect to see many people out on the trails.

We took off onto a trail at the back of the McAfee parking lot. That I didn’t even know existed.

And tried to get our legs to warm up enough to work.

Ran across what I think OT and BB kept calling Saw Tooth or Saw Ridge or Saw Back or Saw Back Ridge Tooth.

I’ll probably just call it that trail behind McAfee parking lot when I talk about it.

But it was pretty.

And BB was doing an excellent job moving us along without pushing me too hard.

And we were doing a good job of keeping OT behind us so he didn’t get out of control and just take off. Which he’ll do if you let him lead. He can’t help it.

Now, I was struggling right outta the gate. My legs didn’t want to move. At all. And I tried to blame it on the cold initially.

Because my lungs were struggling, too.

Mexicans need a little warmth in the air to properly process oxygen. It’s genetic. And science.

But when we were five miles in and I was still hating life, I started to think that maybe BB’s Body Pump class on Monday was a mistake.

I was almost a little rejuvenated when we met the cows that own a section of the trail.

Because how cute are they?

But when BB said, “Do you mind if we skip Dragon’s Tooth?” and my entire body wanted to hug her, I started to think that maybe PlayFITStayFIT Full Body followed by Roanoke Mountain on Tuesday was a mistake.

But we apparently made pretty good time getting through this chunk of the route. So we had a quick break once we hit Dragon’s Tooth parking lot. And took in some snacks. And I was feeling ok again.

Except I also knew what was coming next.

I shouldn’t hate that sign as much as I do.

But I rarely see it on my way up to actual Dragon’s Tooth.

I almost always see it on my way across the road.

To North Fucking Mountain.

And while crossing the road, I started to think that PlayFITStayFIT Leg Day on Wednesday was a mistake.

And I guess because a few months ago I implied that North Mountain was like the only man Rogue and I would ever get. And that we had to share him. Even though neither of us really want him. And I haven’t actually spent any time with him since then. BB and OT thought maybe I needed some time alone with my estranged husband.

So they made me lead this part.

It’s kind of sadistic, really.

But, I mean, y’all know. Right? You know that if shit is gonna go completely off the rails for me, it’s gonna happen on that mother fucking mountain.

Because look it.

That is exactly what North Mountain is.

Just rock. Just uphill for always and covered in rock.

And it takes me a good two years to recover from any injury. So my ankle is not yet fully healed.

And even if it were. North fucking Mountain.

And thank goodness we kept running into hikers. So we’d have to stop. And ask them where they were going. And tell them where we were going.

And it would sound impressive as hell.

Except that the look in my eyes had to be pleading with them. To just take me hostage. As long as they were gonna shove me into the back of a heated van. Or really just any place that wasn’t North Fucking Mountain.

At one point, I’d managed to let OT out in front of me. And he took off. But when he saw a couple of dudes just hanging out on the side of the trail, he stopped. And waited. So they wouldn’t kidnap BB or me.

Which I appreciate. But for real? Dammit OT.

That could’ve been my way out.

And somewhere along that North Fucking Mountain ridge line, I had the most erotic fantasy I’ve ever had.

Of my bed. And sweatpants. And a sweatshirt. And fuzzy socks. And a cup of coffee. With whiskey. And so many fucking blankets.

And then another fully erotic fantasy.

About food. Arroz con pollo. And shrimp chimichangas. Fried. And chips. And salsa. And beer.

This is how I was surviving my way across North Fucking Mountain.

Because that bitch. He was growing.

At one point, BB asked if the mountain had gained elevation since the last time she’d been there.

Psht. This bitch is gaining elevation as we speak.

And, getting longer. This mother fucker is getting longer. We’ve been running this bastard for fucking ever.

And it’s getting colder.

Why are we even here?

And BB is trying to understand how we did the first chunk in under two hours, but it’s taking us four to get across North Fucking Mountain.

(Because it’s North Fucking Mountain, BB. And you’re allowing me to set the pace.)

And while thoughts of OT’s car were helping to keep me going. Thoughts of what would follow OT’s car were killing my soul.

Because I’ve never done Andy Lane up to Tinker Cliffs before. But I have been up to Tinker Cliffs before. I know how high up that bitch is.

And the last group of hikers we’d run into basically just said “damn” when OT told them our route.

And I may have been pleading with my eyes for the dude with the full beard to go ahead and just take me. Anywhere. Please. But he just looked back at me. With pity in his eyes. I mean, he was wearing sunglasses. But I could still see it. I’m familiar with people looking at me with pity.

And I started to think that PRing at Chaos on Thursday was a mistake.

And when we finally hit Catawba Valley Trail, 800 miles later, I started to maybe feel a little hope.

Except that shit goes on forever.

And my legs were so over this day that they weren’t even really letting gravity help us through it. And I was kicking and tripping over every fucking rock. And not just because they were covered in the knee deep leaves we’d been shuffling through for 18 damn miles. But because even though my legs knew they were there, they couldn’t be bothered to lift my feet up over them.

My legs were like, “Fuck you, feet. It’s every man for himself right now. We can’t even care about you anymore.”

And my arms were like, “Fuck all of you. We’re done trying to help you dumbasses maintain balance. We’re cold and we want shrimp.”

And my back was like, “If you don’t all shut the hell up right now, I swear to fuck I’m gonna just lay us all down right here on the side of North Fucking Mountain and let us starve while we freeze to death. Is this where you want to die? On North Fucking Mountain??”

So by the time we finally made it off of North Fucking Mountain and over to OT’s car, I was talking to Jesus.

Please. Please don’t make me go up Andy Lane. Please. I don’t care how you do it. Just make it not happen. Please. For the love of you, just please.

Because simply saying, “Hey guys? I’m done. I’m just gonna take OT’s car back to McAfee and wait for y’all there.” Was not an option.

I can’t fully explain why.

Because it would absolutely have been an option with Rogue. She’s on my level. We think the same running thoughts.

But BB and OT are on a whole different level.

And I was just trying to keep up.

And also, I knew that I was struggling largely because I hadn’t listened to BB at all last week. And had completely exhausted my legs before setting out on one of the most difficult routes in the area.

But luckily, BB had also not listened to herself. And had also spent the week completely exhausting her legs.

And while OT would absolutely have finished out the last 12 miles of this route if one of us had been willing to do it, he also seemed entirely ok with being done.

Thank fuck.

Because I’m not even sure where I would have found the strength or energy or motivation to climb up to Tinker Cliffs.

So we dropped out at 18 miles. 18.66, according to my Strava. Which is practically 19. So I’m just gonna call it 20.

20 miles and 4,300 feet of climbing.

And I can’t even be upset about that.

Because North Fucking Mountain.

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Just reading and writing and running and looking for my happy place.


  1. Pete says:

    That was a fun read!

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