2023 Chaos Heavy Half

Hunger and exhaustion are having a legitimate war inside my body.

Pain is trying to get in on the action, too.

Today was our annual Chaos 50k. And because more than 50 people clicked “Going” on the event page, I opted to start at 5:40am. Before anyone else got there.

Because I promise you, if I show up somewhere and there is no readily available parking, I will turn around and go home.

Pulled into an empty Chaos Mountain Brewing parking lot. Pulled on the layers I’d felt were appropriate for the weather and activity. And stepped out of my car.

Sweet mother. The frigid. Just so much frigid. Just shot right through me.

But my brain said the standard bullshit you feed a runner on a cold winter morning. “You’ll get warm once you start running.” (This would prove untrue.)

And I headed off down the road. In the dark. By myself.

Ran the first loop clockwise. I think. Which meant that I was running straight into the very unnecessary wind that was blowing the arctic across Boones Mill.

At the first turn onto whatever road it is that takes you up the mountain and back down the other side, I ran into Finn’s Dad. Who was marking the course. With flour.

If you’ve ever wondered what navigation looks like inside my brain. It’s that. You can tell it’s trying to tell you something. But you’re not entirely certain what it is.

In fairness to Finn’s Dad, I took that pic on my second loop. After the wind had plenty of time to blow the flour just all over the place.

Made my way on up the mountain. Still in total darkness. And aloneness.

Aside from being nearly entirely frozen through, I was feeling pretty good. Not a single complaint from any part of my lowers yet.

Found Everyone’s Favorite Husband and his crew setting up the World’s Best Aid Station.

But the bacon wasn’t out yet. So I continued on. Running was the only thing keeping me alive at that point.

Got back to my car around 6:45. Took in some water. Looked longingly at the inside of my car. Where the seat heaters are. And then headed back out for loop number two. This time going counter-clockwise. Because fuck that wind.

But the sun was starting to come up.

And I had hopes that it would drive out the wind. And throw out some warmth.

Except the wind was also bad on that side of the mountain. Blowing straight into your face. As you’re trying to climb up 500 feet of elevation. And the clouds aren’t letting the sun out. So that just makes you angry.

And Right Achilles was also starting to have some things to say. It kept referencing back to the October 2021 Runner’s World article Beautiful Beastie sent me yesterday that said, “road runners experience higher loads on the Achilles tendon and less shock absorption compared to trail runners.”

And then Right Achilles had the nerve to reference someone else’s follow up comment about my high load on my Achilles. Because 169.2. (I’m gonna not name this person. Because some of y’all may be a little too sensitive and I don’t need anyone catching feelings about this. I’ve got an unusually high load right now. It is what it is.)

But at least I’d given Everyone’s Favorite Husband and his crew plenty of time to finish the World’s Best Aid Station setup.

They had cheesy bacon ready. A thing I didn’t even know existed.

And Beautiful Beastie was up at 3am making us salmon patties and a pretty impressive fire.

But I didn’t linger too long. Because the wind up there. At the top. Was vicious. Really just mean.

So I headed on out with half a salmon patty shoved into my mouth. And tried not to asphyxiate as I took off running.

Made it back to my car again. Around 8am. Took in some water again. Looked longingly at the inside of my car again. And took off running again.

Because you have to do the things before your brain has a chance to stop you.

But it was clear. As I dragged my frozen body up that mountain. That three loops would be it for me. A nice Chaos Heavy Half.

I did nest a bit by the fire at the top of the mountain. I wasn’t even partaking of the aid station at that point. I just wanted warmth. Some level of comfort.

And BB had me talked into driving back up to hang out with them after I finished this last loop.

But then, after spending way too long standing still, I took off down the mountain. And dear mother. The pain that shot up through both of my ankles was searing. Like, almost searing enough to thaw me out. Because I had also immediately refrozen the moment I stepped away from the fire.

So I just kind of forced myself through a half-hearted jog. Back to my car. Climbed inside of it. Pulled off the sweaty layers I was wearing. Pulled on a dry t-shirt and sweatshirt. Turned the seat heater and set the car heat on full blast. And said, fuck it. I’m heading home.

And I road that way for the entirety of the 30 minute drive home. And never got warm.

Until my hot shower. And hot coffee. And warm pajamas. And cozy blanket.

That. Is freaking heaven.

Except at a certain point. You’re going to realize that you really haven’t eaten much today. To support a 15 mile run. But you’re also exhausted. Probably because you haven’t eaten enough. To support a 15 mile run.

So now I’m just kind of lying here. In a pseudo coma. Desperate for food. And completely unable to will myself off the couch to go get it.

I’m trying to remember if I possibly left the door unlocked. And wondering if a Door Dasher would be willing to deliver my food inside my home. To my couch. And also grab a few ice packs out of the freezer. For my ankles. And maybe an extra blanket. So the ice packs don’t make me cold again.

Why is Post-Run Nanny not a service already? I’d take on a third job again to pay for that service right now.

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