Saturday, May 24, 2014

Dances With Dirt Gnawbone 2014... Better Than Christmas

If there's one thing I look forward to like a kid on Christmas Day, it's Dances With Dirt Gnawbone. This race is a blast and it's run on some of my favorite trails near where I live. There's a 10k, half marathon, marathon, 50k, 50 mile, and 100k relay. So what ends up happening is..... a bunch of crazy runners take over the hills of Brown County, Indiana for a day. It's like a giant party in the woods!

This year, my husband was running the 50k and I was signed up to do the half marathon. The exact opposite of last year. So, this year it was my turn to get to the race at 6am to send he and my other ultra running friends on their way at 6:15 and then wait until 9:00 when my race starts. For me, this wasn't such a bad deal. I definitely fall into the "morning person" category and never sleep well on race night.

After much milling about, breakfast, chattering with outher runner friends, cheering on the marathon and relay starts, it was finally getting close to time to get my race underway.


Spring in Indiana is full of rain, heat, cold, and tornados. We like to mix it up here. The forecast did not really give us the head's up on this one and I of course started ditching electronics and wondering if the singlet I was wearing was the best clothing option.

Before we knew it we were off. Thankfully the rain went away shortly after we started and I wondered what the horsetrails would be like after this downpour. We soon found out. In the first two miles of this race you slog up a pretty hefty hill that's all on horse trails. After spring rains? I like to call this first hill Horsecrap Hill. It's a long shoe sucking mud (what is that mud really made up of?) hill. I've tried to describe it to people and they nod their heads knowingly. But this year, I had a friend that was running the race for the first time that FINALLY got it. It would be totally miserable if you didn't laugh about it and enjoy the mess you've gotten yourself into.

 It was cool to go back to the half marathon after a year of being away from it. There were parts of the course that were familiar, parts that I had forgotten exsisted. I was able to slog up one of the hills with some of my good friends that were also running the race and a new friend we picked up along the way. But soon, we were spreading out and finding our own groove.

My partner in crime for all my years of trailrunning and I had discussed this before the race. No rules, no expectations, we will run our own race and see how it goes. However.... soon enough we ended up together laughing about how whenever we plan to not plan to run together, we always end up running together. Even if she wants to, she can't seem to get away from me.
The end of the race sends you down a ski slope (I'm not exaggarating) and the top of it was a giant mud slick. I of course lost my footing and had a sweet mud fall. I felt fine except I got one thorn stuck in my finger as I crashed down. It was really funny. The MORE funny part was when I found out that Christy had taken a picture of me RIGHT before I fell. This is probably the best action race picture of myself I have ever seen. I alwys give her crap about stopping to take pictures but this was one of the best things ever.

After wading through waist deep water that felt amazing I reached the finish line. You see, this race is fun, but the post race hang out is even MORE fun! Running the half this year allowed me to cheer for all kinds of people finishing the longer distances. Oh and the finish line beer was amazing!

At most road races I go to, you finish, grab your armload of packaged snacks and mosey back to your car, or family and move on. This race is like a giant party that you never want to leave. In FACT, people from my running group came JUST to the after party to cheer on the finishers! Hanging out at the finish line with beer and bar-b-que leads to lots of funny stories, sunburn, picture taking, and new friend making.

If you want a day in the woods with your friends old and NEW. Do this race. But set aside the whole day, because it's better than Christmas.