The Green Girl joined the Sole Runners for another Tuesday night trail run with Rad Runner Girl.
It was my first run sporting my Team Jamba Juice gear.
My friend Brisa's sister-in-law, Vanessa, returned after having injured herself on a run with us a few weeks ago. She brought along her friend, Michael. She was still experiencing some knee pain and was wearing a brace.
As we took off, we fell into our natural groups - the fast runners in the front and the back of the packers faithfully trailing. Vanessa and her friend opted to walk and were actually the very the back of the pack.
When we crossed over to the trails, I ran back to Vanessa and her friend to make sure they knew where the entrance was. I reassured them I would wait for them at the next fork in the path and then I took off to catch up with Betty and Michelle.
At some point, Vanessa and her friend actually passed Betty, Michelle and me. When we reached the three-way intersection, there was no trace of Vanessa and her friend. This was disconcerting to me because the unofficial Sole Runners' motto is 'No Sole Runner left behind' but technically, they weren't left behind since they passed us. I tried to call her but she wasn't answering her phone.
Further up the trail, we encountered some cyclists and I asked them if they had seen a couple matching Vanessa and her friend's description but they had not. If they should run across them, I asked them to please pass along a message that the back of the packers had turned around and were heading back.
When we returned to the parking lot, Vanessa and her friend were not there and we weren't sure which car they had come in. Through process of elimination, we decided it was probably this one car but I had my doubts because it was a new car with dealer tags still attached and Vanessa hadn't mentioned buying a brand new car.
I alternated between calling my friend Brisa and Vanessa but neither of them were answering their phones.
As the night grew darker, some Sole Runners had to leave but some stayed behind to wait for Vanessa and her friend. I felt bad because I had no idea if they were still out there on the trails or back home safe and sound.
Finally, I decided I would drive back to the base of the trails and just see if I could somehow locate Vanessa and her friend. I asked Rad Runner if she wanted to hitch a ride with one of the other runners back home but she agreed to hang around.I drove my car up onto the dirt and directed my headlights into the mountains but I quickly realized that only granted us a couple hundred feet of visibility. We got out of the car and I switched on my headlamp to red light flashing mode.
We alternated calling out her name at the top of our lungs but only succeeded in attracting the attention of the wildlife. After a few rounds, it was as if we were participating in a two-way conversation.
All of a sudden, Rad Runner Girl grabbed my arm and pointed out two dark shadows in the distance. I yelled out Vanessa's name and she responded in the affirmative.
They thanked us for waiting and were grateful for the ride back to the parking lot. We discovered the suspiciously new car belonged Vanessa's friend, Michael. Ironically, in retrospect, it was actually advantageous that Brisa never answered her phone because had I talked to her, I would have thought Vanessa had left in her car and we would have taken off.
Rad Runner and I texted all the Sole Runners to let them know Vanessa and Michael had been located. One of the Sole Runners was about to head back to assist in the manhunt.
Driving home, I let out a huge sigh of relief. In the moment, I hadn't realized how stressed out I was but I could feel the tension throughout my body.