It’s 2am and I’m sitting in a chair at the Nolan’s Ferry aid station. Normally, this is not a good sign during the later stages of an ultra. Chairs have magical attractive properties (especially during 100 mile races) such that once your bottom touches them, it’s extremely difficult to extricate yourself from them. Luckily for me, I wasn’t really just lounging around. I didn’t stumble in off the trail and flop down in any old place. I wasn’t sitting in the chair. I was sitting in the chair! Aggressively. With a purpose.
The purpose was twofold: warm up a bit and get some caffeine to wake up. While I wasn’t necessarily cold yet, I was moving in that direction and had 6+ miles (2 hours) till I hit the next aid station. It had been raining steadily for over an hour and the temperature was right around 50 degrees. I was dressed appropriately, but decided it was best to take a couple minutes to bring up my core temperature. Better safe than sorry after my 2015 experience at this race. Also, just before I got into the aid station, I started getting a little drowsy so grabbed some coffee while I waited. This ended up being a two-fer as it also helped warm me up as well.
When I walked into the aid station, I noticed a portable heater over in the corner. I made sure not to pick a chair too close to it. My goal was to warm up a bit, but not too much. I was afraid that if I got too comfortable, then I wouldn’t be able to leave. One of the volunteers pointed out to me a chair right next to it, but I strenuously declined to move even a foot closer. The heater was like a black hole and there was no way I was going to cross the event horizon. Merely being out of the rain and stationary for a little bit was enough for me to physically and mentally recharge my batteries.
After 10 focused minutes, I was up off the chair and on my way to my second 100 mile finish.