Liza Howard. Ultrarunning Mom.

Ultrarunning Mom

Couldn’t make this up

I was almost too embarrassed to post this, but then I figured somebody out there might need a story that would help convince them they weren’t the most incompetent person out there.

I had a big mileage weekend, which required some “strategery” with Eliot out of town.  My mother in-law and the shih tzus came down to help out and that, along with some substantial contributions to one young babysitter’s college fund, almost got me to 81 miles this week.

I had 40 miles on the schedule Sunday and I was about a mile from the car and marking 81 on my training log when I realized the car key wasn’t in my handheld bottle’s pocket anymore.    It was 12:30pm and at least 85 degrees — and I was a little tired.  Dark thoughts were had.  I turned around and headed back the way I’d come scanning the dirt and rocks for the key.   The last 30 minutes of the run were supposed to have been a progression and I’d been running along at a good clip.  “This is what happens when you run fast!”  I replayed the last mile of the run.  I was running hard when my phone gave its text notification.  A bird tweet — kind of  sweet whistle — sounds when a text comes in.  Usually I find this cute.  I ignored the tweeting as I barrelled along the trail, hot and out of breath.  A second tweeting sounded re-alerting me to the text.   I ignored it.  Two more chirps.  “OK!!!!”  Maybe it was Asa’s sitter.  I stopped and pulled my phone out (of my cool guy UltrAspire waist belt) and started walking slowly as I unlocked the screen.  I was pretty spent and a bit worried about passing out.  This was the text:

I shoved the phone back in my waist pack and worked my way back up to speed trying to ignore my brain’s “SLOW DOWN for gosh sakes!” messages.  Two more tweetings.  I swore.  And ignored.  Two more.  Then two more.  “Somebody better be trapped under something…”

These were all meant for Asa from his sweet grandmother.  I thought uncharitable thoughts about small dogs as my legs began to cramp.  I took the top off my water bottle and drained it and tried to finish the last two miles to the car in good form.

Half a mile later I noticed the missing key.  Smacked down by the God of Small Dogs.

I ran two miles back the way I’d came and spent a lot of time where I’d had ugly thoughts about shih tzus.  No key.  One wild boar.  But no key.  I was supposed to be home in 30 minutes to relieve the sitter, so I called my friend Olivia.  No answer.  But then a text came in as I tried to think of another rescuer.

“Hey can I call u in a bit?”

I thought about how to reply.   “Just wanted to see if you might be able to rescue me.”  (I was going for casual, but urgent.)

We arranged to meet at the park entrance since Olivia didn’t have a park pass.  (A fateful decision.)  I headed out to the road bypassing the parking lot (and another mile or more of running) and told my story to the aged volunteers at the gate house.  They told me the key would probably turn up eventually — how they’d found an iPhone once in the back to the park that had been lost for months.  It wasn’t particularly comforting — mostly because I wasn’t sure where Eliot’s set of keys were.  He was still climbing out in Red Rocks outside of Vegas and the cell coverage wasn’t good. I probably wouldn’t hear from him until he made it to the airport late that night.  I called his phone and left 81 messages anyway.  Olivia dropped me off at home and I paid the babysitter her first year’s tuition and then waited to see what would happen next.

Eliot called a few hours later and said his keys were actually in the back of the car in his book bag.  Better than on his person.  I texted my friend Amanda.

“You home by any chance?”  (Casual.)  She drove Asa and me the 25 minutes out to the park.  We convinced the volunteers to let us in without paying and headed to the parking lot where the locksmith was waiting.

I’m almost too tired to go on.  The next bit happened quickly.  It turned out the car was unlocked.  Odd.  I signed the locksmith’s paperwork and fished Eliot’s keys out of his bag.  Then I noticed my key on the backseat.  (Feeling good about yourself yet?)

I guess when I’d come back to the car to refuel before my last loop, I’d been a bit out of it and never put the back in the handheld’s pocket.

Moral?  The vengeance of the God of Small Dogs is like the barking of small dogs — wildly annoying, but ultimately harmless.  (I am not knocking small dogs.  They are AWESOME.  Love them to pieces.)

In the end I only ran 76 miles.  I couldn’t bring myself to run the last five on the downhill treadmill after I put Asa to bed.  I wrote training plans and thought nice thoughts about my friends instead.



16 thoughts on “Couldn’t make this up

  1. Olga says:

    Stories we all had. At least your car wasn’t driven away in a meantime. Praise the Lord, or somebody of that matter.

  2. Gene says:

    That’s a new one;  excercise induced incompetence.  Glad it all turned out well.

  3. Pommers says:

    Liza, you poor thing! That’s the last thing you need after 40 miles. I would definitely have been home to the grumpy gremlins if that had happened to me. I’m sure we’ve all done similar though. Glad you see the funny side as well :-)

    • Liza says:

      Thanks! The worst part was when the park ranger told me he’d told five groups of hikers to look for the key while they were out.

  4. Amanda Alvarado says:

    Always here for ya Liza! If you want to spend time with me, you don’t have to pretend to be locked out of your car! ;0)

  5. lisa says:

    Liza- a frazzled day for sure!  You are simply amazing and your words are such a treat to read!  I actually did lose my key on the trail. After 3 days, I found it hanging on a’ lost and found’ hook at the beginning of an old jeep road I like to run on.  Such a great feeling to know someone actually took the time to do that!

    By the way, I just picked up the RW trail edtion.  Love that sweet photo of you and Asa- just darling.  I love to hear about running moms!

    • Liza Howard says:

      Anita Ortiz always makes me feel like such a slacker.  
      That’s great about your keys.  :)  Still looking forward to our paths crossing eventually.  :)

  6. Tlbspitzer says:

    Oh Liza! So glad everything turned out okay in the end. Love the dog pictures- will have to remember to send you some Kaya shots next time you’re out. When is your next long run???

    • Liza Howard says:

      I would be happy to stop to see pictures of Kaya.  (As long as she hasn’t started using a wee wee pad.)

  7. Domingo says:

    GGlad to see you are human after all. Sorry for the unexpected worries.

  8. Mark says:

    Nope, still feel like possibly the most incompetent person out there, but at least I’m not the only one. I had a similar thing happen once, except the key turned out to actually be on the trail, about two miles from the car (and about an extra 6 miles of searching). Glad it all worked out for you!

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