"They're all curry," I said to Beat with dismay. "Every single one of them is spicy, fatty curry. What the hell was I thinking?"
Beat dug through his pack and found he mostly had the same. He had one meat lasagna that sounded marginally okay — but, no, I couldn't think about it. I couldn't even think about it. Anything freeze dried only evoked horrific memories of the demon Thai Chicken. "I can't deal with this," I said.
"You have to eat."
"I'll eat tomorrow. Breakfast. Promise."
"You need to eat tonight."
Beat insisted I eat more, so I went back to my pack and dug out one of two Snickers bars that I had brought specifically for use during the long stage. But if I didn't even make it to the long stage, hoarding Snickers bars wouldn't make a difference. "I'll eat a Snickers," I told him. "Sugar I can eat."
The Snickers did indeed taste like a little chunk of heaven, and melted perfectly into the hole in my stomach. "I should know this about myself by now," I said to my friends. "Candy just works for me. I always think I should try to eat healthier while I'm racing, but in the end my body just wants sugar."
Just before the race started, a man turned around and approached me. I instantly recognized him from the author photo in a book that I recently downloaded (before I even knew he'd be at RTP Nepal) — Marshall Ulrich. "I just wanted to say that I'm proud of you for being out here today," Marshall said. "I saw you after stage one. I got the bug, too, and I was so sick. Just so sick. I couldn't continue. I had to drop. I'm going to stay with the race but I'm not racing anymore."
"Oh wow," I said, a little bit starstruck. "I'm sorry to hear that. Really."
Marshall smiled sadly and reached out to shake my hand. Being complemented on my own grit by man who's accomplished what he has — climbed all seven summits, ran across America, and completed more than 120 ultramarathons, to name a few — meant a lot.
So I ate a granola bar, and for a few more minutes there was joy, happiness, elation ... and then it was gone. I ate a fruit bar, and experienced a surge that felt a little closer to a normal burst of energy. Then it was gone. Beat and I alternated hiking the uphills and running the short downhills. I sent another granola bar down the hatch that quickly disappeared. I didn't have many bars left in my pouch, and wasn't sure I wanted to pillage the next day's supply of bars, given bars were the only food I could stomach so far.
"I feel like all of my bars are going down a black hole," I told Beat. "But I guess, well, at least I can eat again."
"I can understand why people come to these mountains and become obsessed with them, and risk their lives climbing them," Beat said. "I thought the Alps were incredible mountains, but the Himalayas are truly incredible mountains."