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“C’mon sleepyhead,”  the voice urged.

“Go away….” I barely managed and snuggled deeper under the afghan.

“He alive yet?” Chip’s voice asked cheerfully.

“Not quite,” Doc said.

“Good. More of this for me,” he waved something under my nose.

It was difficult to stay asleep. Bacon…Bacon and eggs…and biscuits…

“Homemade?” I mumbled as I sat up and wiped the sleep from my eyes.

“Nope, but they’re still good, once Doc learned how to nuke them properly.”

“Doc?” I uttered, aghast.

“Yeah, me,” Seaview’s sawbones stood over me, “the Admiral drafted me to babysit you two. Now hurry up, go shower and change…your stuff’s in the bedroom.”

“Chip?” I asked warily, he’d disappeared.

“Over here,” he grinned, chowing down another biscuit dripping with honey.

“Hey!” I pounced, “That’s not allowed, is it?”

“Never said it wasn’t.”


Morton had had me on a rather tighter rein than most runners had to endure on what I could and couldn’t eat while he trained me for this event,( to turn me into a lean mean fighting machine. Or marathon runner, take your pick.) And there he was licking his chops as the dribbles of honey dripped down his chin. 

“Enough,” Doc played referee, “as soon as you’re  ready Lee, we’ll all go over the course map again, the water and aid stations, what you can or cannot leave at them before the race…”he indicated the four backpacks (two for each of us)  that had our official bib numbers on them.  The race rules allowed runners some BYOB* so to speak, only no beer, no alcoholic beverages, but things like Gatorade, water, cocoa, soup, etc. not to mention pretzels, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the like.


Chip had opted for water, thermos’s of chicken noodle coup, Gatorade and trail mix granola bars.  What I wanted were doughnuts, but after a sugar crash in training, I could see his point about avoiding them.  Should I mention that the honey he was eating was surely worse? In the end I decided to keep quiet and headed to the bathroom.


 “Don’t forget the port potty stations, Doc,” Chip said, “really Lee,” he added at my raised eyebrow, “with all that water we’ll be drinking, we’ll have to go sometime…”


Later, after I’d managed to snag what was left of the breakfast that Morton seemed determined to carb up on, I  deferred to an additional  granola bar, then Doc went over all the fine rules again, as if  we hadn’t read and re-read them already, the signs of exhaustion, dehydration, etc. etc. etc. Heavens, he was acting as if we were headed to the Olympics, not the Santa Barbara Marathon.  And why did he have to keep looking at me as he cited all the contingencies? Wasn’t Chip in this too?


Finally, all packed up and ready to go, bursting with all the runner ‘what if’s, Doc started the car and we headed off, to some hearty ‘good luck’s from institute staffers  congregated by the NIMR entrance.


The contingency we hadn’t considered, was a flat. Would we make the starting gate on time?  Would we disappoint the men that we couldn’t even get started.   What if…


“Let’s go, Doc,” Chip grinned at me as we tossed the jack back into the trunk and headed to our fate.