take your time, think a lot
think of everything you’ve got.
for you will still be here tomorrow
but your dreams may not.
— The Prophet Yusuf Islam
He’s having the dream again.
In the dream, Ernie Pook is in a hostel in Squaw Valley. He’s sitting in the living room, watching monster truck races with a bunch of Russian guys. Apparently monster truck races speak the international language.
He’s tired from the day’s marathon but happy, eating a peanut butter sandwich and watching the others limp about. The Canadian woman tells the Dutch guy she was very impressed with his time in his recent 24-hour race. Ernie thinks for a minute, then laughs. The Dutch guy is sporting a Marathon des Sables shirt. Ernie is wearing some old 5k leftover. Ernie wonders why the hell he’s here.
The race doctor, a chiropractor, tries to recruit volunteers. The Hungarian guy reluctantly accepts. Five minutes and a monstrous crack later, he limps back to the bunk area. The doctor asks who’s next. Everyone becomes very intent in watching monster trucks.
Ernie wanders around outside. He considers riding the ski lift to the top of the mountain before realizing he’s heading there the next day anyhow. He heads back.
Going into the bunk room, he sees the old Russian guy already in bed. The guy gives him the wave, the international signal for “Bring me a beer.” Ernie heads to the cooler. Respect your elders. Especially when they’re twice as old and twice as fast as you are.
The next day arrives, bringing Ernie Pook a new set of aches in places previously undiscovered. He gets his usual breakfast, a piece of toast, and experiments with how much coffee can be consumed in a half hour. The clinical result: Much. He nods to the Iranian and the concert pianist and shuffles off to take his morning icy-hot bath.
He dons the same smelly clothes as the day before and trudges to the start line. A sign notes that it’s the start of the WS100. Ernie is only doing the WS25 or so, but still. He looks up at the climb. The climb looks down at him. He hits the start button on his watch. He starts running.
An hour later, Ernie Pook hits the stop button on his watch and stops running. He gets off the treadmill and turns off Cat Stevens. Walking into the howling wind of another steamy afternoon, he wished he wasn’t a dreamer. And he wished he had a piece of toast.
Mostly, he wished there would be a monster truck race on TV when he got home …