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!