Dashing through the Francis Marion forest- Dirt Dash 12K recap

Hey guys! I hope you’re all doing well.

This past week was super busy- between work, running, visitors (my parents are coming next week) and booking a November vacation, my internet time hasn’t been blogworthy lately. Life’s been too busy to worry about taking pictures and blogging, so I haven’t. Charleston has so much to do that we haven’t been bored, and we’re gonna try to hit a South Carolina football game next weekend, too.

Saturday morning, I got up at the crazy hour of 4:30 (even crazier than my usual Saturday morning wakeup time of 5 AM) for the Francis Marion Dirt Dash 12K. The Dirt Dash is three races- a 5K, 12K, and half marathon, all on the trails of the Francis Marion National Forest, which is ironically in Charleston and not close to my alma mater, Francis Marion University. It was still neat to run a race with the name of my university.

I love races longer than 5Ks and was super excited about this one. When I picked up my packet from Try Sports Thursday night, I got my race t-shirt… a light blue shirt in a size XS. It fit *perfectly*- gotta love a Tiny Terror sized race t-shirt. It’s officially the best race t-shirt I own now.

Before leaving the house Saturday morning, I pinned a picture of Belinda’s son, Taylor, on my running shorts. Taylor was killed three years ago on his way to visit the College of Charleston for open house, and after the Isle of Palms Beach Run, I promised Belinda I would wear his picture when I raced in his favorite city, Charleston.

The race was in Awendaw– truly the middle of nowhere between Charleston and Georgetown. It was definitely the most rustic race I’ve ever done- we had to park across the road at a visitor’s center and ride buses to the start deep within the woods. Also, the race timing system was operated off of generators (no power lines in the middle of a woods), so forget indoor plumbing. But, the absence of modern convenience made it a true trail run.

The race was directed by Eagle Endurance, which is a local running group that reminds us that the actual act of running was originally primal- trying to catch “dinner”, or avoid being eaten, running through the woods or wilderness, NOT in our subdivisions, local tracks, and especially not treadmills! While not a true “mud run”, trail runs like this are a good chance to disconnect from the stimuli of normally running life. I met the race director, Chad, at Try Sports and was excited about participating in an Eagle Endurance race.

I found my friend and fellow track/cross country coach Peggy at the start and met one of Peggy’s friends, Diana. Since some of the buses were behind schedule, the start was a little later than 7 AM, but we didn’t have to wait too long. It took us by surprise when the horn blew, we kind of looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and started running.

Peggy, Diana, and I were near the back, so the first mile was filled with dodging half marathoners who were running at a slower pace as well as some walkers, but that happens at every race (note to others: Run/Walking a race is perfectly okay. Runners admire anyone who’s out there sweating with us regardless of your pace, but we don’t want you to get trampled either). I didn’t let the slower first mile hold me back- it may have actually helped me pace myself and not go out too fast.

The course was well marked and had volunteers directing us where to go as well as several water stops. The water stop halfway (3.75 miles) had volunteers handing us water, but there was another one that was self-serve as well as a porta-potty on the course (glad I didn’t have to use that, but nice for it to be there in a 12K!). Supposedly someone took the wrong course and went crazy on the staff, but I don’t understand how that happened with how well the course was marked, plus the course overview that was e-mailed out a few days before- it would NOT be cool to “accidentally” run a half marathon. The course was great to me, but I guess people always find something to complain about!

On the way back, I met Peggy and Diana, and Peggy handed me the picture of Taylor, which came unpinned from my shorts while running. Not sure how that happened, but super glad she found it. The last mile or so was pretty brutal, with the sun coming out over the trees, combined with the fatigue from running in 76 degrees, 100% humidity, weather. After the final turn, I saw the generator-lit clock and made a strong finish in a little over an hour- 1:03:35, and 2nd place in my age group.

I got a rustic finisher’s medal with the race logo on it, some water and orange slices, and headed to the finish line to cheer Peggy and Diana in- they both finished strong and enjoyed the run. Some other Believe/Achieve Run Clubbers were there too, including some overall 1st and 2nd place finishers. See, you really do get motivated when you’re around other runners!

After completing the rustic race, I drove back to civilization of power lines, indoor plumbing, and of course… Starbucks! You have to treat yourself after a race, and a mocha light frappe did the trick. Starbucks has pumpkin spice now and I’m looking forward to that when the weather gets a bit cooler.

I came home, put my feet up, and curled under my Carolina Gamecock fleece blanket for an afternoon of football. Both Carolina and Clemson brought home wins, so it was a successful Saturday :). Hopefully everyone else who ran and watched football this weekend was happy with the results too!

This entry was posted in 12Ks, Believe Achieve Run Club, Charleston SC, Race Recaps and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Dashing through the Francis Marion forest- Dirt Dash 12K recap

  1. I saw your tweets and wanted to say how proud I am of you! Congrats lovely lady!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks! It was an awesome run. I couldn’t take any pictures due to logistics (big race, can’t run with camera, nowhere to put stuff at the start/finish, etc), so I’m hoping for some pictures to show up on Facebook or somewhere soon…

  2. ladycoop says:

    awesome update. 🙂

  3. yay congrats! Loved reading your post and your below one with lululemon I love their clothes, mantras and community things they always organise like yoga and fun nights! Sounds like an awesome run and omg I am a starbucks addict hehe… Can’t wait to read about your next race. Happy running! 🙂

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah, I really don’t know much about lulemon except for them organizing the event. They have a store here in town that opened awhile back, but I haven’t been inside since it’s downtown, and I don’t get there often.

      I am planning to do another race next month, a 5K on a Thursday night, for OktoberFest. I’m not going to race as much because of long runs on Saturday morning plus coaching cross country. I sorta need a break from racing.

  4. AWE loved reading about this. I hope some photos show up too! I always hate with cross country races there are never any photos…well I never personally take photos.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah, definitely no way I could’ve taken pics, unless I wanted to run WITH a camera- which I didn’t! Oh well, it was a great race. I was kinda glad the course wasn’t too eventful though, it would suck to see a snake or something, eek!

  5. allieksmith says:

    I want to hear about this November vacation you’re planning!

    Great, great job on your race!! I was so excited for you when I read your tweets about it :). Your race medal is too cute!!

    Also, I agree with you on the pumpkin spice drinks. I’m not ready for summer to be over, and it really isn’t yet so I just stick with flavors like vanilla or hazelnut. Once it’s truly fall I will jump on the pumpkin spice latte bandwagon for sure 😉

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I will write about my vacation soon, that’s a whole other blog post, hehe. Didn’t really want to mix that with a race recap.

      I am holding off on the pumpkin spice a little while too. I am excited for it, but I don’t want to rush summer to be over with. Especially since I live in a warm area. Today it “felt like Fall”, but the temperature was still in the 80s, it just wasn’t quite as humid. When it’s in the 60s and 70s I think I will spring for the pumpkin spice!

  6. Rebecca says:

    Wow!! 12K?? You’re moving on up there! I’m so happy for you, and I’m proud to. Hear you talk about these races, and I do hope that one day, I will be able to run at least 1-5 full miles. I know that sounds pitiful, but I would like to run at least longer than a few yards at a timw. I feel like a baby when it comes to running.

    But I do remember the advice you gave me awhile back. It has to be something that I really want, and I need to prepare properly for it. 🙂

    Have a wonderful evening!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah, this was my 2nd 12K. It’s about 7.5 miles. I’ve been kicking it up and running 10+ miles on Saturday I don’t race, that has really helped.

      You should check out Couch to 5K to start running, it really works and uses intervals so you don’t just start out running nonstop. You work your way up to it but it really works, by the end you can run 3 miles with very little walking, if at all.

  7. runwkate says:

    Congrats on your finish! I can’t believe I only just found your site (you have Cait Chock to blame). I am leaving to go and add you to my reader…

  8. After 8 years I have never made it up to Francis Marion. I’d love to check it out though.
    Out of curiosity about how long did it take to get there?
    Great race and love that shirt color. Too cute!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      It’s not really far… you go up Hwy. 17 past the north area of Mt. Pleasant. I guess it’s maybe 10 miles from Mt. P. So not too bad. They do other races there too including a relay in December- hint hint!

  9. That is the coolest rustic medal I have ever seen! And I totally agree about the walkers! It is awesome to see them out there completing it but true about the trampling!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks- and thanks for responding! Everyone who did the 12K got this medal, but the half marathoners got a real one, not rustic. All the awards were hand carved too for age groups. I’m looking forward to getting mine soon :).

  10. Such a cool medal Amy, and congratulations on the race! I saw those tweets and was seriously psyched for you 🙂 And the way you enjoyed the day after was a perfect way if you ask me!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Tessa, I like the medal too. It’s simple but it’s different than all the other medals I have, I like how it has the race name on it and looks rustic, hehe. Really cool thing to do for a trail run.

  11. KrisLawrence says:

    GREAT job!! That medal is a keeper for sure!! I love it. Is the t-shirt fitted? I love that it fits you and is not HUGE like most race shirts.

  12. Big congrats on your finishing time! I feel your excitement over the perfect T-shirt–those free T-shirts never fit me either, because they only come in a size small. If I ever got a perfect-fitting shirt I would be so happy!

  13. Patty says:

    !!!!! What an awesome finishing time!!!! Great job!!!! I’d be so excited for that time!!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks- I was pretty excited :). But I really wasn’t racing to beat a time because it was a tough race, more for fun. Still though, I am definitely getting a bit faster…

  14. chasingthekenyans says:

    Cute shirt and love the medal! Congrats on the AG award. I’ve already indulged in 4 pumpkin spice lattes… Even though it’s a little ridiculous to me that they are $5!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah, they are pricey. I just got some DD coupons in the mail though for $1.99 lattes, and I liked theirs better than Starbucks last year (which was the first year I could try both since Florence got a DD last year), so I’m excited about saving some money on lattes!

  15. Melissa says:

    Sounds like a great race and congrats on an awesome time and the 2nd place! I love it when the race shirts actually fit too! Have a great wknd! 🙂

  16. Kara says:

    Way to go, awesome race!! I love a good race shirt…when it fits and it’s cute and comfortable.. those are hard to find, though! haha. Great job!!

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