After retiring at 7 last night, I slept till 8 am. Still tired, told the others i might take a zero day, took a nap, felt better, and started off at noon. Four miles uphill to Chestnut Knob shelter and I was whipped again. I sat in the shelter for close to an hour deciding whether to stay or go on. Finally decided to go, there was a campsite after 7 miles and all downhill. I took off feeling suddenly much better and practically ran the first few miles. Then the rain started. It POURED. My rain jacket was useless. When I came to the turnoff for the campsite, it was raining so hard I couldn't make myself hike the half-mile to the site in the rain, set up my tent in the rain getting it all wet, when there was a shelter just 3 miles on. So I pushed through the rain and the oncoming darkness (I'd had that late start and then a long stop at the first shelter). I booked. It was getting darker and my headlamp was somewhere inside my pack. I felt around for it unsuccessfully. Note to self: put headlamp in accessible place even if you don't expect to be night-hiking, since you never know.
so I hurried on and on through the rain and the darkness. I've never been rained on so hard in my life. The deluge seemed Biblical in ferocity. But no wind and it wasn't cold, so I was still OK. Water was running down the Trail 3 inches deep. It reflected the little light still coming through the heavy forest, so I could actually see the Trail, or at least the river it had become. I kept telling myself, if I can do the Ironman, I can do this. If I finished that marathon at IMFL, I can do this...I'm not cold like I was then. If the athletes at IMCDA got through their Ironman that riny day, I can do this. If it doesn't get any darker, I can do this. Finally I saw a sign, and it pointed to the shelter, and I was there, and there was still room inside. Thank goodness! I put down my sleeping bag, said "Guys, I gotta get my wet clothes off, if you're looking for a thrill this probably ain't it", stripped and climbed into my bag.
So...woke up feeling awful, went back to bed, considered a zero, reluctantly started a "short" day at noon, got a second wind, perked up, and ran through the rain for 3 hours for a total of a very wet, strenuous 14 miles. A roof over my head and a space for my sleeping bag on the dirty wood floor of a 3-sided shelter full of men, mice and spiders was pure luxury.