Any amount of visualization will fall short. No projection can prepare you for the severity of unraveling. No fervent catastrophizing can steady you for the catastrophe of becoming unfettered chaos. A catastrophe walking.
Devastation comes. When you have been severed from all your mentally cataloged paradigms of purposes you’d locked down and zip-locked in your brain to carry you through the race, what are you left with?
Not even hope. It’s just too far to go. There’s just too far to pull yourself forward.
There is the all too real moment where you loose your shit. You choke on the absence.
Walking down the last steep decent of lap 14, dragging my right foot immobile behind me and the snowshoe raking up a mound around my calf, the voices in my head began to issue from my mouth. I scolded myself for talking to myself. I did so aloud. I screamed at myself for being crazy. Aloud. Vicious circle.
My head big-banged to the size of the mountain that was now drowning me. Every tree moving in the wind and each explosion of river cascading around me began to take up residence inside me – all sense of self erasing into a throbbing, ultra localized yet non specific pain.
My ankle was done, swollen out of bounds, and my left leg was collapsing under the burden of supporting my whole body.
Earlier the rainstorm had accelerated into a deluge and the rain then turned to ice. The ice turned to white out snow squall conditions that erased all previous footsteps (more than half a foot deep) in less than 3 hours.
With all my weight on my left foot my race snowshoe (far from adequate to properly distribute my mass in these conditions) would punch through the snowpack that had been loosened by all the rain. It was a balmy 38 all day. It was now dropping below 15 but not fast enough.
Beneath the 2 feet of snow was a swamp of water, ice, and mud. More than once I had to take my immovable, frozen fingers in soaked gloves and dig my foot out – only able to roll over on my side in exhaustion after the effort. Only to repeat said procedure a few steps later.
It’s hard to stay positive at a time like this.
I thought of laying down and going to sleep. What should have been a two and a half hour loop was now pushing over four hours. Folks at the barn would start looking for me soon. I was only about 2 miles from the aid station.
If I was on the course (and in that moment that was a rather less then certain hypothesis) they’d find me in an hour or so. If they went the right way. And if I wasn’t buried in snow that was falling fiercely.
I couldn’t walk anymore. But I couldn’t shake the idea of inconveniencing a rescue party. I just kept screaming at myself.
And falling. That was the worst.
You cry. You bargain. You give up. You quit. You get up again and keep moving. Why? Because you are alone on a dark trail in a blinding snowstorm and you’re cold.
Idealism dissipates to nothing more than some washed-out words of inspiration in a novel you can’t even remember. How I was singing songs, every single word spot on, and I couldn’t even dredge the name of the band from the clusterfuck my brain was dissolving into.