By Karen Krieg
At the volunteer party rumors started to circulate that there was a potential road-trip to Charlottesville happening on Tuesday. It sounded to be a "challenging run" and a fun group of people. I considered myself lucky to be asked along for the journey. I thought I would jump on in so that I can see how the other super fast people of the VHTRC live. So, I found myself suddenly joining Sophie Speidel, Mike Broderick, Linda Wack, Kerry Owens and Vicki (no last name needed). Talk about intimidation!!! I am a very happy (okay, maybe not so happy since I prefer or would like to think back on my youthful days when I could actually be competitive at things) mid- back of the packer. Unfortunately, I let my ambitions get the best of me.
But, on the plus side of all of this, I knew Quatro wasn't organizing the run and wasn't in charge of the aid or making sure that we all survived somehow. So, phew!! I knew at the very least I would survive. But, I should have known something else would happen, it turns out it is one of the hottest and incredibly humid days of the year.
The trip started out relatively uneventful, I arrived at Vicki's house to carpool with Kerry down to Sophie's home. I thought the trip started out well for me, considering that I arrived at Vicki's house EARLY (which for anyone that saw me last year at Catherine's knows that I can be late with the best of intentions) and ran to the Giant and got some beers, water and random snacks for the next day and the ride down.
Well, it had been a long drive down that night, and Vicki had discussed in the car her desire to get to Sophie's and have a couple of beers before we turned in for the night. The beer was second only to Vicki's desire for a milkshake. Okay, and maybe the beer even fell behind her obsession with finding a potentially open Starbucks at 5 am in Charlottesville. I should have known during that discussion in the car that something was being foreshadowed -- like in a bad harlequin romance novel.
After a few missed turns and a few stops at the Sheetz (because what trip doesn't require a Sheetz stop?) and the 7-11 we arrive at Sophie's (Central VHTRC) home at about 11- with Mike and Linda and Sophie kicking back after having enjoyed a few margaritas at a local bodega, or something like that, what do they have in Charlottesville??? Oh, actually I can tell you actually there is a new Target that opened there. So that is big news. I know Sophie was very excited about this news.
After getting out stuff into Central VHTRC hotel, and figuring out where we were all sleeping, and after I fought Vicki and Kerry off for Carter Speidel's top bunk we all retired downstairs to watch the WNBA and kick back for discussions about the run the next day.
I had gone to the bathroom and returned to join everyone when Sophie said to help myself to anything in the fridge. Being tired and not having seen everything that had been done up to that time, I opened the fridge and viewed several items. A very healthy food filled fridge (not a ring ding in sight) some Corona's (how can people even claim that it's a real beer??) and a Sam Adams. A heavenly Sam Adams. After a long drive, and not really wanting to go back out to the car to get the pre-purchased beers in my cooler, it was one of the most appealing things I've seen in a while. So, after I again ask Sophie if it was okay to take anything, I grab the beer a bottle opener and the heavenly nectar was soon open. I go to join everyone in the recreation area of the VHTRC central.
As I sit down and take my first sip of the beer I suddenly feel eyes of steel upon me. The bottle hangs at my lip and suddenly I hear KAREN! That's my beer! I had pilfered one of Vicki's 2 precious beers. My jaw dropped, the beverage hung perilously above the ground. I began to profusely sweat. I was in trouble with Vicki. Holy Cow. Oh crap. I was confused, I was nervous, my mind began to race. What to do? What to do? I offered the beer back to Vicki, promising my cooties weren't really all that bad and that the beer had only been open for a moment, it wasn't any warmer then when I had taken it out of the fridge. But, that would not appease her. There is no appeasing anyone who has desperately wanted something all night. Especially Vicki. I finally decided it was in my best interest to retrieve some of the beers (thankfully) I had purchased earlier at the Giant across the street from Vicki. Literary foreshadowing, it's almost like a novel or something here huh?
I brought the beers to her, I knelt before her and offered my complete apology and my sorrow for having tasted one of her beverages, and would she be consoled by an Old Dominion Ale? That, by the way, was WAY colder than her Sam Adam beers. And, after some initial resistance, she rested. It must have been like the way that people that used to offer sacrifices to the gods to keep them from becoming too agitated.
Well, shortly later we all turned in for the evening. Mike Broderick retired to the Tween Suite, which I think he was very impressed that he had the opportunity to spend the time in an 8-year-old girl's room dedicated to Ponies, Hillary Duff, and Avril Lavigne. I personally never had the opportunity to sleep in a top bunk, even at camp as a kid, so I relished the opportunity to climb up and over Kerry without killing her.
Morning quickly arrived at 5 AM, or maybe it was 4:30, it's all the same at that time of the day. Shortly thereafter we packed up and were off, heading towards our destination.
We arrived at the local early AM shop on what road I have no idea. But we gathered our coffee, snacks, etc. I as usual was attempting to figure out the ideal way of possibly fueling to have a prayer in hell of keeping these people in my sights at all during the day of climbing and running. I was waiting in line to pay for my water and snacks and a local gentleman (it seems this was a local gathering point for early morning risers of old men, who probably left their dentures at home next to the bed with their wives still sleeping in it.) But, the conversation kind of followed this pattern:
Denturless Man: Y'all are up awfully early
Me: Mumble incoherently b/c I haven't really had any coffee
DM: Are you guy's hikers?
Me: Well, kind of, we are planning on running and climbing The Priest and 3 Ridges
DM: Y'all are doing what?
Me: We're going for a long run
DM: Are y'all crazy or from some kind of institution and this is a day trip or something?
Me: No, we're doing it for fun
DM: Y'all are crazy and nuts, it's gonna be hot out there.
Me: Yes, thanks for pointing out that it is currently 100 degrees and 90% humidity at 5 AM. I hadn't noticed it before.
DM: Well good luck, don't die out there…
Great, now I'm already worried about this trip and everything else, and a local man has basically said that I'm absolutely one hundred percent nuts. I've now certified everything that years of therapy never resolved.
Well, we finally arrived at out destination where Bill Gentry met us for the start of the run. It was decided that we were going to climb the Priest first and then subsequently do the Three Ridges after we climbed back down.
I can't tell you much about everyone else's climb, I just know I was hot and sweaty within a few minutes of getting out of the cars. Everyone else looked like this was a Sunday jaunt during the early spring, and I was standing there puddle deep in my own sweat (a real pleasant image) although the views were partly obscured by the lousy weather, nonetheless there was some absolutely spectacular views that someday I hope to be able to see…
We reached the shelter area on the top of the priest and begin our descent down. The descent down was much more pleasant than the intense climb up. At the parking lot it was like walking into a fire stepping into the direct sun of the day. The climb up and then back down had taken I think just shy of 3 hours. It was now about 10 AM and the three ridges remained ahead of us.
I decided at that point, feeling terrible from the heat and the amount of sweating I was doing that I probably should cut the run short. I got the key from Vicki to the car, and we started off. I started having problems with my asthma and realized that this truly wasn't going to be my day. There are times when you just have to let your body actually dictate your decisions. I continued to climb about an hour or so up the mountain sat down and had a snack (not just any snack, a S'Mores Pop Tart!!) and then decided it was time to head back down and sit in the creek and chill out waiting for everyone else.
So, this really isn't a story about a run, since you'll have to ask those that I bow before what really happened on the mountain. I know there was stories of bottom feeders, and a lake somewhere that apparently Vicki, Sophie and Kerry were playing and frolicking in. there may have even been some giggling by Vicki, but you'll have to ask the superstars themselves…but I think that what happens in the creek may stay in the creek.
Everyone returned about an hour or hour and twenty minutes after I had. Looking overjoyed at their accomplishment in the current conditions. I have to say I was jealous and pissed at myself that I couldn't do the same. Ah, oh well. But I did see a crawfish for the first time not on my plate, so that was kind of interesting although it scared the hell out of me. Linda Wack in particular was amazingly stellar, she stayed with mike and bill to finish the entire climb even when Sophie, Kerry and Vicki turned around a few minutes earlier. Bill Gentry also looked about 20 lbs lighter than when I met him earlier in the morning.
A few hours or so of hanging in the creek below the parking lot and we were off to Outback Steakhouse for a bloomin onion and food. Sophie, the girl is skinny, can certainly polish off an onion like that I've never seen before, and with such relish and enjoyment that is nearly as amazing as her natural running skills.
And then home to DC.
Well, that's the story that I have.
File Photo of the Priest
Photo: Sophie Speidel