Sunday, October 28, 2012

Run With Scissors Race Report

Coming into the finish!
Today I became a marathoner. As with every marathon this was a hard fought accomplishment and I am proud to have reached my goal. Thank you to everyone who supported me! Your kind words, prayers and support made a huge difference!

Within minutes of crossing the finish line I said to Chanda, "I've got to do a race report on this race!" This says a lot about the race considering I was soaking wet, covered in mud and shivering like someone on the verge of hypothermia. And though it is tempting to offer a mile by mile report, I will refrain because...well...whenever I've started reading that kind of race report I have gotten bored before mile thirteen. Instead I will highlight the best and worst aspects of the race. I hope you find my report entertaining.

Before the Race

All summer long I said to Chanda, "I just hope that it's not cold & rainy. I'll take snow but I just don't want cold rain." Unfortunately, the forecast this morning was a high of 45 and a 70% chance of rain. Ugh! The rain started about 45 minutes before the start of the race. Before I got out of my car and headed to the start line I checked the weather on my phone. Sever weather warning! Flood warning. Double Ugh! The trails were going to be a sloppy mess! "Oh well" I thought. "At this point there's nothing left to do but tough it out."

The Race

Everyone gathered inside a shelter where there where two fireplaces blazing. The warmth was a comfort in the face of what we all knew was coming. At 7:55 the race director asked everyone to step outside so the race could begin. Slowly people meandered out onto the adjacent shelter and lined up right at the edge, just out of the rain. "Come on!" he yelled. "You're gonna get wet anyway! Get out there in the rain!"

Nobody moved.

Standing on a picnic table he, watched a battery powered kitchen clock until it read 8am and then yelled, "Go!" We all stepped into the rain and started running across the field toward the woods.

For the first 18.7 miles I was having a blast! The aid stations were phenomenal! When they said "fully stocked" they were not kidding! Each station was loaded with coffee, water, Gatorade, Heed, half a dozen flavors of soda, soup, grilled cheese, PB&J, Chicken Roll-ups, Gu and more snacks than you can shake a stick at! And the volunteers running those stations were incredibly helpful and accommodating! I cannot say enough about how hard they worked to make sure every runner had the best possible experience.

At about mile 15 I came to a red skeleton with a couple books. As proof that I had come all the way to the furthest point of the course I was required to remove a page and carry it back to the finish line with me.

As I said, I was having a blast! Unfortunately, the course conditions were deteriorating by the mile. By mile 20 the vast majority of the remaining course was a muddy mess! We're talking about consistent mud ranging from ankle to knee deep. I quickly realized that pursuing a time goal was just going to leave me frustrated. My new focus became avoiding a fall or injury and just covering the distance. This meant less running (which had proven impossible in many places anyway) and more hiking.

As I began to slow my pace, the wind and the rain began to pick up. The stream crossings, of which there were many, were severely flooded. One time after trudging through knee deep mud I came to a stream crossing and thought, "No need to worry about being covered in mud! There are all these streams crossings where your feet & legs will be washed clean!"

I began to get cold and feel frustrated with my lack of progress. I've heard other runners talk about how they felt like quitting or turning back at some point. I never felt that. But I did start to become miserable. The wind and rain were taking their toll and my slower pace was not adequately keeping my body temperature up.

The last two miles were a breath of fresh air! The elevation was higher and the trails were runable once again. As I stepped out of the woods and into the same field we started the race at I could hear Chanda and a close family friend cheering for me. As I turned toward the start line they were right there, jumping up and down, yelling at the top of their lungs.

After the Race

After the race there were people there to direct me into the shelter to get some food and warm up. Inside, both fireplaces were still ablaze. A woman ran up to me to give me a "Run With Scissors" coffee mug. I was then directed to the kitchen where several gentlemen were cooking food for finishers and there where big pots of coffee and hot water for tea or hot chocolate.

The Virdict

Ultimately I had a good time at Run With Scissors! The race is run amazingly well and every runner is treated like an elite! However, "A good chance of really bad weather" is one of the selling points of this race. It is not for the faint of heart! This is a race you should come to expecting to suffer. A lot.

Will I run it next year? At this point I don't think so. I have different goals for next year that may not be conducive to running such a taxing marathon. However, if you are an experience marathoner looking for a new kind of challenge, I definitely recommend considering Run With Scissors!

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