First and most importantly, I would like to thank mother nature for making this year's attempt of the Eagle Creek Trail Marathon NOT the ball sucking sweat-fest that it was last year! Whoo HOO! 20 degrees cooler and overcast skies were magical music to my ears as race day approached! Sure, it was still 1,457% humidity... but this is Indiana, not Colorado. Accept the humidity and move on.
Other than a lovely weather break, what was different? I think that the biggest difference was.... me. How am I different now than last year? I’ve dropped some weight, I’ve changed my diet completely, I run smarter than I ever have before, and I am better trained than I was last year. Oh sure those make a big difference, but I also realized something recently…. Running is hard. Genius? No, this is not a stroke of genius. But I think that for a while I’ve been frustrated because running is hard, it hurts, sometimes it is lame, and sometimes I hate it. It turns out, those are a lot of the reasons that I do it. I run to see how far I can go and to make myself uncomfortable, or I run to see how far I CAN go before it gets TOO uncomfortable. I don’t run because it’s easy. So, when I turned my thought process in that direction… things became more interesting. Every run is a great experiment.
Back to the race….
So, this is an out and back HALF marathon. What does that mean? Well, it means that if you don’t like a section, you are painfully aware of the fact that you will be doing it 3 more times. At least, that’s how I took it last year. This year I decided to use those sections as a way to break up the course in my head. Win! Breaking up races and distances by aid stations, gel intake, or landmarks has recently helped me not be so intimidated by distances. So this frame of mind was a GOOD thing going in.
Last year there were two dead/smashed raccoons on the causeway between trail sections that helped us break up the day. This year, no raccoons…BUT there was one flat opossum on the causeway! I might have said hi to it by the third time we passed it. I don’t know, you just start doing dumb stuff the more you run….
As we were coming up on aid station three I was happy to have some more snacks and get some cold water… And out of the blue the gal I ran the race with last year pops up out of nowhere screaming her fool head off!!!! Best surprise EVER! We had no idea that she would be coming and seeing her was the best jolt of awesome a runner could have!
The freshly laid boulder sized gravel from last year had been nicely ground in for a not nearly as miserable experience! Yay! So, a section that was mostly walking last year due to the ankle twisting pain fest was a lovely runnable section where we picked up time this year!
Oh, and did I mention I had company? I was thinking that another “running is hard, duh” obstacle I would be dealing with on this race was running it alone. I’m certainly not a person that CAN’T run alone. But for this race about a week and a half before it the gal I was going to run it with decided to switch to the half. So, my head was making big adjustments as to what kind of race this was going to be without someone to take my mind off of all the….running. And then on race day, another friend (that is definitely faster than me) mentioned that she was doing the race as a training run and my pace would be a good range for her to be in. WIN! This was such a blessing. First of all because YAY COMPANY! Second, she was great company! We talked about all kinds of stuff but we are also comfortable enough that we didn’t HAVE to talk every second. Man, I’m a lucky gal.
We also had what seemed to be a normal conversation at the time:
Me: How you feeling?
Friend: I’m a little sore.
Me: Who wouldn’t be sore? We’ve been running for over twenty miles!
Friend: Oh yeah, even Batman would probably be sore. Or maybe not… he’s a superhero and all.
Me: Yeah, but he doesn’t have any REAL superpowers. He’s just rich.
Friend: But I bet he has a really good massage therapist to help him recover.
Me: Yeah, I guess that’s kind of like a superpower.
Normal conversation walking down the street? Probably not. 20+ miles into a marathon? Definitely!
Oh! Awkward moment with shirtless stranger! So I’m running down a VERY narrow single track and this runner is coming right at me (out and back course shenanigans) and I get over as much as I can but the trees and brush on either side of the trail are making this encounter potentially very awkward. In an effort to call attention to the awkwardness I shout, “I MAY HAVE TO TOUCH YOU!”, which I thought was HILARIOUS. Him? Not as much. Psh…. Lighten up folks! Isn’t this supposed to be kinda fun?
I had a blast at this race. Lots of friendly faces and some good running made for an exceptional day. Oh, and guy I don’t know that asked if I was Persistent Runner? Dude! That was the coolest thing ever. You’re awesome, and I hope you had a GREAT race!
And this race report would not be complete without mentioning that Planet Adventure (the people that put on this race) find some of the best volunteers on the planet. They also make these little salty potatoes that are a magical gift from heaven.
Will I run this race again? Well, I’ve learned my lesson, never say never!