Late last week, Gary invited me to participate in the second part of "the double" he was planning for the weekend. The first part of the double was Catherine's Fat Ass. The second part of the double was a run at MMT the next day, starting at Camp Roosevelt, and which was planned to be about 20 miles. Since my running, if you want to call it that, was up to almost 8 miles, I thought this would be a good opportunity to risk some type of injury to myself. So I said yes. "OK, meet us in Luray at 7 p.m. That will give us enough time to run Catherine's and stay for the party afterwards.
Doing the math. One thing I hated in school was word problems in math. Now I had to solve this one: "If the race starts at 8 a.m., and Gary can finish the race in, let's say, 7 hours, and if we meet at 7 p.m., then how long will Gary have to attend the party?" The answer: 4 hours minus the 10-minute travel time from 211 East to Luray. Which one could argue was a tad excessive. There are probably many standards by which to judge the success of a race and the post-race festivities. By all accounts the post-race festivities were great, but this was the singular measure of success that day: Gary called me on his cell phone about 6:45 p.m. saying they'd all be in Luray in about 10 minutes. What's so unusual about that? Because even though he was calling from his SUV, it seems that Gary had to have someone else drive it. He didn't really elaborate, but I got the impression it wasn't the brat he ate (incidentally, the brats got rave reviews).
The others. Besides me and Gary (I say "me and Gary" because that's the way I talk even though I know Anstr says it's bad grammar and wants to change it to "Gary and me" like he has done in other articles I have written), the other two people in the entourage were Dave Yeakel and Jo Lockner. Dave had done some stupid monster run (designed by Russ) at Shenandoah National Park that day since he was training for Wasatch.
On the way to dinner. Since this was a big night out (we were celebrating Dave's and Jo's birthdays), we were dressed for the occasion as someone was thoughtful enough to buy the guys all matching shirts. Dave was somewhat reluctant to wear his shirt, but he finally succumbed after persistent badgering. I know you're going to find this hard to believe, but as we were driving to the restaurant, we came across a car show in the Hardee's parking lot. We stopped to have our picture taken next to a sweet 1967 Camaro painted a deep orange metallic. Since it matched our shirts (sort of), we stopped to have our picture taken.
I don't know if you've been to as many car shows as I've been to in Luray on a Saturday night, but this one, unfortunately, was no different. They had a stereo blasting out songs from the 1950s and 1960s, which prompted Gary to start dancing when he heard an Elvis song. Of course, we were all instantly mortified. Yet, I still had the presence of mind to snap a few photos, one of which you see here on the left below. We quickly decided – to save ourselves further embarrassment – that it wouldn't look as bad if Gary had a partner. Although Dave volunteered, we decided that Jo would be a better candidate. Begrudgingly, she did her best to put on her "happy face" and stepped out onto the "dance floor."
As luck would have it, the car show was actually winding down, leaving only Jo and Gary in the parking lot, so we headed off to dinner.
Dinner. I had scoped out a couple places in Luray beforehand on my way into town and thought that Uncle Buck's Family Restaurant would be just the place for dinner. I had read several reviews earlier in the day, and only one was unfavorable (the chicken liver was raw). But the others were quite favorable; here's one excerpt: "Sure there's no white tablecloths and candlelight - but you don't need them when the food and hospitality is this good."
We drove up in my minivan and parked in the lot next to Uncle Buck's. I had to gun the engine before turning it off, just to impress the three guys from Jersey on their Harleys. OK, I have to admit that we weren't exactly the foursome some bikers from Jersey expected to see in that part of Virginia (or any part of Virginia for that matter). I know you're going to find this hard to believe, but Gary instantly struck up a conversation with them. I don't really think they were paying attention to what he was saying because at one point, one of them interrupted him and asked, "How is it that you three guys get to be with that attractive woman?" I think Gary was a little patronizing in his response, but you be the judge. "Hey, dudes," Gary began and leaned forward and patted the handlebars on one bike, "it's not about the bikes. It's all about the shirts. It's what you're wearing, not what you're riding." I think Gary even suggested to them that they get rid of their bikes. Between me and you (the reader), this was not very persuasive. I don't expect to see three "For Sale" signs for Harleys up in New Jersey in the near future. To make matters worse (it that were possible), Gary then looked at one guy who was wearing his helmet backwards with black wraparound sunglasses and walked over to him and gave him a fist bump, saying, "Hey, I like your helmet." I was reminded of Dudley in Wild Hogs, and I thought I was in a bad sequel.
Anyway, they zipped up their black leather jackets, saying, "We gotta go now since we have a big ride tomorrow." So, Jo led the way into the restaurant, and the three of us followed her, strutting proud as peacocks (and just as colorful). We went inside, and the food was quite good. But all through the meal, we sort of had the feeling that people were staring at us for some unknown reason.
MMT. (I have to put this next section in so it can pass for an article on running.) The four of us planned to meet Phil Rosenstein at Camp Roosevelt at 7 a.m. the next morning, which we did. Sort of. Phil was there at seven, and we got there a little bit later. We had a very good run even though it wasn't the planned 20 miles. More like 15. Gary talked us into doing Strickler's Knob. It's a spectacular trail, full of rocks and great views. Phil came out that day because he wanted to start his training for Lean Horse (he had just returned from being a pacer for 80 miles at Badwater). He was looking to run, and I think he was a little exasperated at joining us in our "walk" on Strickler's Knob. Well, actually, I think he was a little pissed off.
We decided that we would continue on the orange trail and then go up Waterfall. I can assure you that that is not good training for Lean Horse (or any other race for that matter). I had a few choice comments going up that trail as did Jo. I have to admit that her comments were choicer. Once we got to Crisman Hollow Road, Phil lightened up a bit as he was able to blow out the carbon in the 4 miles on the road back to Gap Creek.
Final thought. Well, so much for dinner and dancing in Luray on a Saturday night. All in all, we had a good time, so much so that Gary mentioned the possibility of making this an annual event after Catherine's. As they say, the jury's still out on that one.