PTSD Part 2
Watching my team surge behind Michaela as she ran in front of the team to get us parked, I had tears running down my face. Luckily it was dark and I had my face buried behind my parka ruff. They looked amazing, like teams that I have watched for SO long pull into checkpoints, happy, strong, and ready for a nap if that is what I wanted for them. Teams that I admired the musher for how well they have taken care of them out on the trail. My breath caught in my throat. Why is it that I can’t wait to set a hook, to step off the runners and take off my parka?
My handlers were in awe of the way the team looked. This was their first race, first checkpoint watching teams come in and be personally vested in a particular team. My team. They have spent countless hours behind these athletes. Ensuring that they are ready for this push, this competition and now they have seen the benefit of training hard and all of their time. The speechlessness and the look of how proud they are spoke more words than actual verbal exchange. I was shaking, I lined the team out, praised them all with words and stroking of their heads, especially my 3 rookies, telling them how well they had done. I pulled my parka off and opened my sled bag. Pulling out a bag of snacks I got into my checkpoint routine, but I was shaking, my voice and my hands were shaking. I asked a friend to go see if they could find a race official because I wanted to not use the race for a qualifier I wanted to be able to use my handlers so I could get some good rest while we were here. I needed to make a decision.
I pulled all the booties and stuffed them into the empty snack back, while chatting. Trying to settle my voice, trying to settle my brain by talking about how amazing the dogs did. My thoughts raced to when I would be leaving, I came in at 7:43pm, in the dark, 6 hours of rest, leaving at 1:43am, in the dark. Deep breath, stand up and stretch back, look at the beautiful night sky, remember when you would have loved this, getting ready to pull the hook and see a sunrise in the middle of another amazing run. Another 78 mile run. Deep breath. Long exhale, deep in breath.
Grabbing a bale of straw to bed the dogs down, I grabbed the closest one to me, my only logical thought really in my head was “I gotta get the dogs bedded down so they can rest”. I had already pulled tugs and they were ready for a nap. Spreading straw to each of the dogs made me giggle, they love their straw, they know that this is their time to relax. Straw to each of them and jackets come out. I’m still struggling to control my breathing and calm down. Another round of snacks for the team and I get set to start my cooker to get water warm for their meal.
Walking to the building to get a pot of water to boil was the first real steps I had taken in about 8 hours. My mind was racing, water, boil, more snacks, straw, rub down Cole, check Finger, I gotta grab my drop bags....and then set out on another run. I don't want to head out in the dark. But the dogs looked so good, how can I not. I need a nap, I don't care about qualifying all I want to do is finish.
Walking back to my team, chatting with my handler trying to verbalize the answers to his questions. But all I can do is think... I think way to much. I need some water myself, I need to change my socks, I need to get a nap in. I need to get a nap. Don't make any decision until you've slept. THe problem is that its only 8pm. I'm not really tired, I need to rest, relax and try to get a little rest off the runners. I'm swallowing that panic that keeps rolling up in my throat. Its OK. Breath.
The time to rest comes, this is not a good thing, my mind which isn't tired has time to race. Time to think, time to over think. Jesus this is stupid. This is supposed to be fun. Why am I not having fun? Because of that one time. My mind keeps replaying this event, 3 years prior. Lost on the river, alone, really lost and really alone...I can't rest... I just can't do this. I thought I was ready. I thought I could muscle through this. I thought I could but I can't.
The call comes back from the race marshal, the decision is no to moving to not using it as a qualifier. My mind goes black, I go to pet my dogs before I turn in my final decision. Tears streaming down my face and in a state of panic I can barely breath, I walk to the race official and tell her, "I'm scratching, I can't do this." She asks if I'm OK. "No I'm not, my dogs look amazing and I'm the one that can't fucking do this, its retarded." I walk quickly back to my dog team not wanting to talk to anyone. Not wanting to admit defeat. Not wanting to admit that I am human. Not want to admit that I can't do everything. Not wanting to admit that I have emotions that I can't control at the moment. Not wanting to admit that I am vulnerable.
"You know things are going to be OK right?"
"I do, but right now I really just want to go home." I say sobbing into my leaders.
"Ill go get the trailer..."
Life goes on, and the sun still rises. The sun will set. And let the healing begin.