Don’t Panic!

don't panic

At some point in your running life, something is going to go wrong on your run. Sometimes it is something small, like you break a shoelace. No big deal.

Things just happen and the longer your runs get the more likely something is going to go wrong. There is a saying among ultrarunners related to stomach issues during a hundred miler, but I think it applies across the board, “It’s not if you have stomach problems, it’s when.”

A few weeks ago, Spongebunny dropped his gloves on the way up a mountain. We were doing a 17 mile trail run. He didn’t realize it until I was pulling my gloves on because it was getting colder as we climbed. This is how it went:

Spongebunny: “Shit, Nik, I dropped my gloves.”

Me: Snickering and shaking my head. “Well let’s go back.”

Spongebunny: “No, I’ll be fine. I don’t know how far back they are.”

Me: “Are your hands going to be okay at this temperature for two or three hours?”

Spongebunny: “No, damn it.”

And we turned around. The gloves were only a mile back and Spongebunny kept his fingers.

 

Next potential panic moment occurred last weekend. Here’s the play back:

Spongebunny and I are happily running down the trail finishing a crossing from Big Cottonwood canyon into Millcreek canyon. We had cars parked in both canyons. We were a mile from our finish line car in Millcreek Canyon and twenty three miles into the run.

Spongebunny stops. He bends over. He puts his hands on his knees. When he turns to me, his face is ashen.

Me: “Are you okay? Are you dizzy? Are you going to throw up? Sit down.”

Spongebunny: “You’re not going to like this.”

Me: “What?”

Spongebunny: “The keys to my car are in Big Cottonwood Canyon.”

Me: laughing hysterically. “Let me call Swiss Miss.”

This last one could turn into a major issue and all trail runners should be prepared for this type of situation. We were not, but thankfully, it wasn’t one where it was going to end in an unexpected camping trip.

Just this last Saturday, Spongebunny and I went out for an easy ten-mile run. We parked at Church Fork and ran an out and back to Elbow Fork. Once back from Elbow Fork, we were going to summit Grandeur Peak.

We were very familiar with the out and back portion of the trail and Grandeur is a popular climb. We were only going out for ten miles and temperatures were in the forties, so I didn’t take any food or water, which is very typical for me at that distance. Spongebunny had his handheld.

We get to the summit of Grandeur and the view is amazing. I stand on the top and take pictures all the way around. Another group of runners join us at the top for a few minutes and then they are off back down the mountain. When I’m done taking pictures, I follow them down the trail.

The trail is rocky and steep. Spongebunny and I are watching our feet not wanting to trip and land on one of the rock fins sticking up out of the dirt. We

We get to the summit of Grandeur and the view is amazing. I stand on the top and take pictures all the way around. Another group of runners join us at the top for a few minutes and then they are off back down the mountain. When I’m done taking pictures, I follow them down the trail.

The trail is rocky and steep. Spongebunny and I are watching our feet not wanting to trip and land on one of the rock fins sticking up out of the dirt. We get a mile and a half or two miles down the trial and Spongebunny has to pee, so we stop on a flatish section.

I walk out to an overlook and stand there looking around.

Me: “Spongebunny, we’re on the wrong trail.”

We both turn and look back up the trail. It’s at least a 1500 foot climb back to the peak.

Spongebunny: “Son of a b****.” (for sensitive ears)

Me: laughing, “Embrace the suck.”

Spongebunny: “I gotta be somewhere at 11.”

Me: “Yeah, that’s not happening. Do you have her phone number? I’ve got service here.”

The worst thing about it was we didn’t have water for the extra miles. If it had been summer, we would have been seriously dehydrated by the time we got back. We ended up with eighteen miles rather than ten.

Eventually you’re going to have to deal with an unexpected situation, so you should always have a plan and the first on the list is don’t panic. The second should be laugh. If it’s going to be funny later or funny to your friends, then it’s funny now. When you are done laughing at yourself, take a deep breath, think over your options, and talk about them (even if you’re alone because that’s funny too).

Always tell someone where you are going and what time they should start to worry. Always take extra food, water and a jacket even on a short run.

 

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4 thoughts on “Don’t Panic!

  1. Spongebunny November 11, 2015 at 3:34 pm Reply

    The interesting part is that this could also be used in everyday life, we get into situations where if we start to panic, we tend to not make rational decisions. It’s all about making decisions that do not put you down the wrong trail especially 1500 ft in the wrong direction. Here is to future runs and future lessons to learn.

    • Nicole Lowe November 12, 2015 at 5:33 pm Reply

      Very true I find many of the lessons the trail and running in general teaches me are applicable to everyday life.

  2. Judge Jeffrey Noland November 12, 2015 at 12:09 am Reply

    Car keys? At the other car? Loved it! You have the best sense of humor and irony!

    • Nicole Lowe November 12, 2015 at 5:36 pm Reply

      Hoping we don’t run out of gas or drop the keys along the trail next!

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