For the past week, I have been in bed battling a nasty bout of Pneumonia. This morning, I finally felt a slight spark of energy to go for a short run. I laced up, dropped my kids at my Mom’s, and headed to the nearest trailhead.
By the time I got to the park, I was feeling deathly ill again. It was 90 degrees with full humidity out… I should just go home and sleep…. but being the runner I am, I couldn’t resist at least tackling a mile. So I jumped out of the car, grabbed my phone and keys, and ventured into the woods waterless for a short jaunt.
A mile in with endorphins flowing, I decided I didn’t feel all that bad, and continued on for a couple more miles. After about 35 minutes, my body finally revolted. I started hacking up a lung, and decided to find a short cut back to the car.
By the time I made it back to the trailhead 45 minutes later, I was in pretty bad shape. I was feverish, dying of thirst, and simultaneously coughing uncontrollably and gasping for air. I needed to get back in bed..stat! I tousled my key fob around my wrist to unlock my car, and it suddenly felt lighter than normal....ohhhh crap… I scrambled around looking everywhere within 20 feet, but I already had that sinking feeling in my gut.
Yeah…my car key was gone.
And considering my other two keys were already claimed by the great outdoors for the same reason [yes I am aware that I have a problem], I knew what would happen next. I had to retrace my steps. Waterless. In the heat. In the woods. Far. With a fever. And pneumonia.
I literally could have punched my own self in the face. A hard right. Square on the jaw. I totally deserved it, and wouldn’t have been all that mad at myself for it.
Frrrrriiickin key….So. I took off running. Again. Groaning and resenting my decision to buy my keychain from the dollar store instead of somewhere legit like..I don’t know… Brookstone or something….Don’t they make key locators? Whatever.
I ran the entire loop again, this time taking me about 55 minutes. I still could not find that stupid key...Ahhh I hate keys!!!!...And by this point, I also hated puppies, rainbows, orphans, nuns, and anything that sparkles.
I ran/walked another half of the loop AGAIN, and still had no luck. Finally, after feeling like I was going to pass out and running out of options, I decided to call Dan to ask him to leave work and come and help me. That was a hard call, guys, I hate admitting defeat!
It took Dan about 20 minutes to get to me, all of which I spent running around looking for the dang key. When he finally pulled up, he motioned for me to get in the car.
“Come on.” He shouted, “Let’s just go buy a new key.”
“No!” I yelled back. “You come on. We’re gonna find this stupid thing.”
“You’re sick! I’ll go alone.”
“No I ran a weird route and took a lot of random turns. I need to go.”
“Fine,” he said, and parked the car.
Together, Dan and I went back into the woods. Two hours had passed since I initially started my easy one mile run… Two… And every second still felt like I was dying a slow painful death by running. (It’s not that far fetched for me.) We silently moved in concentration, carefully scanning every area of the trail.
With Dan in his work attire, and I in my disheveled 90-year-old with emphysema look, we must have looked gloriously pathetic. But, in my head, we really looked more like this…
Two Aragorn looking warriors. Fiercely, bravely, and boldly heading deep into the wood on an epic search for a priceless tiny black key. A key that the Earth itself tried to rip away from my possession!!!
...It is worth noting, by the way, that it was this point in my mind that I deemed this totally worthy of blogging about…
“We’re going to find this key, Dan!” I said triumphantly, breaking the silence. “We will! You’ll see!”
“Ummm. Okay.” he muttered as we continued our search.
About 1.5 miles into the trail, Dan stooped down to the middle of the trail, right in the open, and picked up….
You’ve got to be kidding me.
“Here ya go.” he smirked and handed me my car key.
“Seriously? Seriously?!! How did I? Ugh. What the crap. How did I miss that?!”
“You can thank me later.” He laughed, as we turned back towards the car.
Man…I shook my head, laughing to myself…What a morning!
During the walk back to the car, the adrenaline subsided, and I suddenly felt like collapsing again.
“Let’s get you home, Baby.”
“Ugh. I felt like I did an ultra today.” I wheezed.
When I finally made it home, and processed the crazy morning, one thought kept settling into my mind:
I need to go to Brookstone to buy that key locator.
Hahahah just kidding. Kind of. No, but really, the one thing that kept popping into my mind was just how thankful I am that I possess grit.
It’s a transitional type of grit, too. Because it’s not just there for ultras or mountain tops. It’s something that I carry with me on a regular basis. 10 years ago, I never would have run over 2 hours in the woods [with pneumonia] just to save myself a hundred bucks for a key replacement! I don’t care how broke I was back then! I mean, truly I can say that thought NEVER would have crossed my mind.
Ultras have literally ingrained this grit into me. I notice it with little situations like today, but also with big things too. Life challenges, family, financial hardship, you name it. They’ve made me strong! I no longer have a defeated attitude or approach to any of it. My first thought when a difficult situation arises is this: “I CAN GET THROUGH IT.”
Say what you want about ultras ruining the body, and I’ll agree with you there. But you can’t tell me they don’t completely empower the mind. Today I was reminded of that without even running one. If you spend hours upon hours training your brain to just keep moving forward no matter how bad it sucks, eventually it sticks. It sticks, and then it transcends. And for that, I am beyond grateful. Life is so much better when you’re tough enough to keep moving forward, no matter the situation.
Hey! Thanks for reading about my impromptu adventure. I came home, chugged a ton of Tailwind, showered, slept, and took this cheesy picture for all of you to commemorate the day.
Do you notice your grit from endurance showing up in your daily life? Share below! Hope you all are having a nice evening. Happy trails! ~Ash