This weekend I ran the Dirty Half Marathon. It was intense. The build-up got to the point where at the starting line I was ready to do an about face and run the other direction. Why?
First, my friend Mark who I run with signed us up, and I knew it was largely a series of very twisty, very rocky single-tracks through the woods. Then I went to look at the map of the course. Here’s the elevation graph:
Are you noticing that it’s basically uphill for the first 8 miles? Because it is. See that highest point around mile 7? Looks like you’d need a Sherpa to get there, doesn’t it?
Then last week I bumped in to a friend who’s among the most hardcore athletes I know. She’s run the Boston Marathon; she does Iron Man competitions. She asked, “You doing Dirty Half this weekend?” “Yeah, are you?” “Nah. It’s too hard.”
I’m sorry, what?
What she meant was that with work she wouldn’t have had time to prep enough to be competitive. But still…
So I trained as best I could with those minor distractions of work and a baby. But then Mark and I were at the starting line, and the organizer was giving us our “pep talk.”
“It’s hot out there this morning, so stay hydrated. If you’re having trouble, if you feel like something’s wrong, stop. There are nurses volunteering at all the aid stations – let’s give them a hand. When you hit mile marker 7, Doctor Something is working the water station, give him a thanks; he was among the first responders there where So-And-So died last year.”
He said more after that, but I don’t remember what. I was thinking about the fact that someone died running this race last year and how interesting that is. Just really, very interesting!
The race wound up going really well. Saw several people trip and go down, but neither Mark nor I were among them.
- A low point: At each aid station I would grab water, drink half of it, and dump the other half down the back of my head to stay cool. The volunteers yell out, “Water! Water!” or “Electrolyte! Electrolyte!” so you know what you’re getting. My guy was shy or something – he said nothing. I grabbed the cup, Gulp; dump. Ew. That… that was not water. I basically dumped sugar water down the back of my head.
- It can be a fast transition to grumpiness when people are passing you. “On your left.” “No problem!” “On your left.” “You bet!” “On your left.” “Gotcha.” “On your left.” “Yeah, I can see you.” “On your left.” “Whatever.” “On your left.” “Fuck off.” “On your left.” “Fuck off.” “On your left.” “Fuck off.”
- On the flip side, passing people is awesome. I don’t know why they get grumpy about it.
- Both Mark and I finished on the positive end of what we were hoping for, and given the temperature and terrain I’m crazy proud of both of us.
- On looking at the results Mark said, “So, if I could have just shaved an hour off my time, I’d have come in third!” There are some ridiculously fit people where we live.
- Instead of finisher medals they give you pint mugs. Perfect for rehydrating, for dumping electrolyte water on your head, or for other celebratory beverages.