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Stupid is as stupid does

June 18, 2008 - Erik Brown

In retrospect, I was a little too determined to do my scheduled “long run” on Monday.


Deanna and I had just spent two very nice days with our daughter Erika at an orientation program for incoming freshmen at Juniata College on Sunday and Monday. Before we left on Sunday morning, Deanna treated me to a Father’s Day breakfast fit for a king and while we were on campus I researched the various ways that one can acquire the “Freshmen 10” in the dining hall.


So, with the challenge of my planned 18-miler hanging over my head like a dark cloud and two days of unplanned carbo-loading literally under my belt, I headed to the Canoe Creek entrance of the Lower Trail late in the afternoon on Monday. On my way there, I caught a weather report on the radio - something to the effect of “severe thunderstorms likely, blah, blah, blah…” A quick glance at the sunny sky was all the affirmation I needed to discredit that bogus report.


I finally got started running at about 3:45 with a couple of power gels and a Ziplock bag of fruit chews tucked in the pockets of my running shorts. I carried a bottle of Dansini water that I alternated from my left to right hand every 5 minutes or so. The sky was mostly sunny with some nice white clouds, and the air temperature was pleasant. I felt good and cruised on down the trail at a comfortable pace. 5 miles down, I passed through Williamsburg and continued onward toward my turnaround point another 4 miles down the trail. Everything was smooth sailing (a little Coast Guard lingo there) until shortly past the 8 mile mark.


The trail at that point is covered by a beautiful canopy of trees, so I didn’t notice what was developing overhead until I heard the first tell-tale rumble. I glanced up and saw clouds of a different color. Did I turn around? Heck no! Why turn around when it was only another 7 or 8 minutes down the trail to the “official” turnaround point?


By the time I reached my all-important mark, the rumbles were getting more frequent and heavy raindrops were beginning to find me through the treetops. I was quite happy to be headed back toward my van, even if it was 9 miles up the trail. Of course, it wasn’t long before I was slogging my way up the trail in a downpour and thinking about how ironic it was to be carrying a water bottle. It’s really quite easy to stay hydrated in a downpour, but it’s not much comfort.


The trail became one long mud puddle. It was raining very hard, and the lightning strikes were basically all around me. 2 miles up the trail (2 miles below Williamsburg) there is a very small “pavilion” off the side of the trail. As I approached it I was debating with myself about taking shelter or continuing on. I had talked myself into the latter, but as I was passing by, there was a lightning strike so close that I practically sprinted underneath it. I guess my Guardian Angel decided to take matters into his (or her) own hands. Anyway, I stayed there for about 5 minutes as the storm finally passed by.


I started running again, but by then I had cooled down and my legs just weren’t the same the rest of the way back to the van.


Stupid is as stupid does. – Forest Gump

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