A couple of weeks ago I ran the Dances With Dirt, Gnaw Bone 50k. The weather was picture perfect. Not too warm, not humid, not cold, a nice breeze at times. The course was very similar to the course I ran there two years ago. But this time the mud troughs were almost completely dried up and we ran the 20 mile loop in the opposite direction.
There was no bushwhacking in the first 18 miles so up to the North Tower aid station the going was relatively easy. I was feeling great and having visions of a sub 5:30 run. That’s when they finally hit us with the bushwhacking. Still the going wasn’t too difficult. Even up to around mile 23 I still had a shot at 5:30.
It was around mile 23 when they hit us with the “4-pointer” ridge climb. Straight up the ridge, hands and feet, about 200 feet or more. When I got to the top I was spent. I stopped thinking about a sub 5:30 and starting hoping I could still beat 6 hours. Shortly after the ridge climb there was a little confusion as to what trail to take after crossing the dam on Strahl Lake. I lost a few minutes there, but gained a little recovery. Also, Mark Linn, who was running the 50 mile, caught up to me and we ran together to the last aid station before he would turn to do another 20 mile loop and I would turn toward the last 5 mile stretch to finish. Mark helped keep me motivated and running even though my legs were screaming stop.
During the last 5 miles I was passing lots of people who were walking the half-marathon. That helped to keep me running. I did walk a few of the hills. When I would reach the top and want to keep walking I was telling myself that walkers don’t beat 6 hours. The last mile or so was a little different we crossed the river at least once and ran down the middle of it for a stretch. When I finished they asked me what age group I was. I said 45 to whatever. They told me I was first in my age group. Awesome! 5:57:38, over an hour faster than my time there two years ago. Sweet! As I turned around another runner finished. He had passed me back at the confusion spot. Turns out he got lost somewhere along the river in the last mile. He finished 2nd in our age group a minute behind me.
I had a pretty good day on the trails, but the real story isn’t about me or the race. The real story starts after the finish. For the first place age group finish they gave me one of those folding camp chairs and a hat. The one Ivan is modeling in the picture. The second place finisher got a chair but no hat. He was a little upset with himself for getting lost. I felt bad and almost gave him my hat. Almost, so glad I didn’t.
When I got home I posted this on Facebook:
“Danced with dirt, slopped in mud, ran through a river, total distance 31 miles. The river was in the last mile so it washed most of the mud off my shoes and the cold water felt great on my sore feet. Time was around 5:58, 12th place overall, 1st in my age group.”
My friend Janet replied with this:
“Impressive. That’s a great time. But….the best run of the day in this state came from one of my kids….Ivan got 1st place in the 50 meter dash at the Special Olympics…and it made my day! He told me he was “runnin like a cheetah!” Congrats to ya both.”
As I was reaching for the box of kleenex on my desk, I was so glad I kept the hat. I boxed it up and mailed it with a note that read:
Congratulations. Run Wild, like a cheetah!
At times I can’t even fathom how truly blessed I am. I’m told Ivan loves the hat. Please pass the kleenex.
For my next race I’m heading back to Brown County for the DINO Series 15k. Run Wild, like a cheetah!