Friday, January 3, 2020

Ode to Becca's Rain Jacket

So I could go on and on and on and on about the joys of this year's Hellgate, but instead, I'll just give you a few random bullets and jump straight into a poem.
  • I had part of my big toenail surgically removed earlier in the week.
  • I had to drive 11 hours to get to Camp Bethel, and slept overnight at a Kentucky rest stop.
  • I inadvertently switched my contacts right before the race, throwing me into a low-grade migraine. I didn't solve that riddle until 2 days later.
  • Mountain-Forecast.com failed me.
  • It was miserable.
  • I didn't die.


Ode to Becca's Rain Jacket

Camp Bethel for the fifth time,
The Eagle Year!
I've known heat, frozen bottles, snow,
And even a Sissygate.
But never a Watergate.
You know the kind,
Torrential, freezing rains,
Hell on Earth!

My will is stronger than other runners,
My last long run confirmed as much.
30 knot daggers of freezing rain to the face,
Sopping wet for hours,
Then bone chilling cold.
That's what I wanted.
That's what I prayed for.
Hubris? Sorry, I'm not familiar with the word.

Mountain-Forecast.com,
A godsend most days.
But not this day!
Light rain?
Temps barely under 40?
Piece of cake!
I'll don my Houdini and be on my way.
Swishy-swish rain jackets are for suckers.

Along Onion to Overstreet, reality sets in.
I strip down and upend my drop bag.
New shirts, new gloves, new beanie, new jacket.
No, not a rain jacket.
Patagonia Wind Shield Hybrid Soft Shell, Grecian Blue.
But it's dry and warm
…for now
If the rain picks up, I'm screwed.

Down to Jennings I go.
Hubris rains down upon me,
With an inversion layer to boot.
Soaked to the bone,
Low heart rate.
Frozen torso,
Cold and alone.
I'm screwed!

At Jennings I hide under a canopy,
Shell-shocked.
Dan arrives, he says he's okay.
But his voice betrays him -- please end my misery!
John is there, too, in and out like a pro.
I hitch my ride to his rain-jacket-covered carriage,
Hoping companionship will fight off the cold.
It doesn't.

At Little Cove, Helen hands me a grocery bag,
It's all she has.
I contemplate an homage to John Kelly,
But I could never pull off such an iconic look.
John stays behind.
I'm alone in the dark now,
So cold and so terribly alone.
How the hell am I going to make it to Bearwallow?

I arrive!
Sound the trumpets,
Raise the banners.
I'm demoralized, dejected, defeated.
Soaking wet, freezing cold, numb,
Starving and thirsty.
Barely able to eat or drink.
How much farther to Camp Bethel?

And then, the Hellgate Miracle!
Hark the Hellgate angles sing,
Glory to Becca Weast!
And her 20,000 HH Inov8 Stormshell Jacket.
Lightweight, waterproof, taped seams.
Now, if only I could use my frozen fingers.
Becca, would you be so kind as to dress me?
Thanks! That's better, much better!

And just like that, I am off.
Well, technically, after 15 minutes of standing around shivering,
And Horton plying me with soup and broth until I nearly puke.
But yes, I am off,
Off into the cold, wet unknown.
And I am warm and cozy and dry.
Caringly wrapped in a 2.5-layer polyamide Pertex Shield.
I've never known an embrace so loving, so kind, so form-fitting and comfortable.

(Photo Credit: The Lifesaver)


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