If you’ve read my blog, you’ve seen that I have a well-documented love affair with a race series called Dances with Dirt. I’ve done the 50K distance in Indiana and Michigan and this year I booked a hotel for the Wisconsin race not knowing what distance I might be up for.
As the race got closer and my body and mind felt worse and worse I doubted that I was capable of any race, any distance. Then…. A little stroke of genius. I emailed a friend that had moved to Wisconsin and said, “hey, I know that neither of us is trained for this, but we both know we can do it, want to hike a half marathon with me? I hear the course is AMAZING!” I expected a slew of back and forth email to follow. I have a habit of talking people into races and I was ready for a fight. Instead, I got an email back saying, “ok, sounds good, I’ll sign up tonight!” Whoa. I was floored …and committed… and terrified.
Why terrified? Well, I’ve just been feeling awful and I still have no idea what’s wrong with me. I’ve been through an extremely frustrating and heartbreaking “test and retest and find nothing and let me just throw some pills at you why wouldn’t you want to just take pills even though we don’t really know what’s wrong with you” cycle with a doctor, and obviously nothing came out of it except for a lot of tears on my part… I digress….
Maybe I would lock up, maybe I would pass out, maybe I would be unbearable sore, maybe any progress I had made on feeling better would be gone….
And the next thing I knew I was at the starting line. And we were off. Thankfully for me the race gained 800 feet of elevation in the first 2 miles. If that’s not a great way to start things off slowly I don’t know what is! We settled into a nice power hike and reiterated that neither of us was up for “beast mode” and we would take the opportunity to catch up on all the chatter that two girlfriends that haven’t talked in months could pass endless hours with. At some point we realized that the girl right behind us was looking for the same type of race, so the three of us passed the time chatting, laughing, hiking, and running when we felt like it.
The race course was beautiful! It hit all the highlights of the magic of Midwest trails. Fields, forests, pine trees, and an AMAZING overlook! We took our time at the overlook for pictures and then headed down to finish the race up.
The course was a lollipop so we got the reward of an 800 descent for the final miles. We were tired and ready to be done and as we saw the finish line and our husbands and friends, I definitely screamed, “SUB FOUR HOURS!!!” with my hands over my head in victory, because who gives a crap? Right? And the spectators seemed to appreciate the humor.
As my husband and I walked back to the car I was downright giddy over a race performance that some people would consider horrifying. I told my husband that I don’t know what’s wrong with me and I don’t know when I’ll get better, but spending the day out in the woods with one of my favorite women was such an amazing gift. And I am so freaking happy that I was able to have today and feel like I still have a place at these events.
It was a good day spent with good people. It was the slowest half marathon time I’ve ever had. And it felt like one of the biggest wins EVER.