Hurt the Dirt Half Marathon

I did both this weekend. Separately and together which is what happens when you race on a trail tired.

I’m at the peak mileage weeks for my marathon training, so I was going into this race tired. I rearranged workouts so that I had a day off before the race, but after putting many 50-65 mile weeks my body wasn’t as ready as I hoped to tackle the treachery of a trail race.

When I’m tired on a trail run, I fall… spectacularly. Or at least it feels that way in my head. This one was a pretty hard thud on my left shoulder that didn’t bruise nearly as much as I thought it would. I’m probably lucky I didn’t fall more.

 

Hurt the Dirt is at the Luton Park in Rockford Michigan. They offered a full marathon, which was four loops around the course, for the irreconcilably crazy; a half marathon, for those of us who haven’t fully embraced our crazy, and a quarter marathon, whose participants were looking smarter by the mile.

It’s trail race which  I haven’t done since college and even those were wider pathways which allowed room to pass without sliding down the side of the hill or clipping a tree. The ground was soft and the course was shaded and cool; all pluses in my book. Except for a brief mile or so, the trail consisted of ups, downs, and hairpin turns. None of the ups were especially steep or long, but they were frequent. The hair pin turns meant that you could often see other participants in the race if you dared to lift your eyes from the trail in front of you.

Tracey, from my running group, and I ran together for most of the race, which was great. She was brave enough to look around and could see a few of the other runners from our group and cheer them on. That was one of the best things about the race, being there with my running group. We could help each other prepare, we could cheer each other on, and we could commiserate about the scratches and bruises (I wasn’t the only one who got a closer inspection of the dirt.).

After a tough run, I had one more surprise… first in my age group. I guess all the other runners my age had better things to do Saturday morning.

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Loving my running group

I’ve been running since junior high. Catching, throwing, flexibility, or jumping side-to-side to hit a tennis ball aren’t in my areas of coordination, so running is naturally the sport for me. One foot in front of the other, no sudden movements, and no complex play strategies.
Much of my time with runners since then has been with people who are similarly-abled or who have chosen to run competitively. Some of them are very good, even flirting with elite competition. It’s been inspiring to see how hard they work and the levels they achieve. They are using their talents to see how much they can do with it.
I’m similarly inspired by Saturday morning running group. The people there run for many different reasons. They may be chasing a time on the finish clock, but their weekly miles are about more than making themselves a better runner and a healthier person.
They are logging miles or minutes to make their body healthier in response to a family history of heart disease or diabetes. They are there to lose weight that puts them at risk for a host of health problems. They didn’t start running in junior high or high school; they laced up their running shoes for the first time at forty or fifty.
It’s amazing to see how hard they are working to make their lives healthier and how far they have come because they chose to take control of their health and make their lives different.