I know this probably doesn’t sound like any big thing, but keep in mind I haven’t been much of a race girl while getting #brokeknees 1 and 2 fixed.
Even though I’m not completely pain-free – and knew going into surgery that I may never be again – I have been able to accommodate my somewhat finicky joints. In other words, keep the pain level to a minimum. I can run. Like the whole turtle though peanut butter kind of runs at the moment, but I’m okay with that. I just keep telling myself the speed will come. Maybe. Hopefully. It’s okay if it doesn’t because I really love peanut butter.
After the fiasco that was the announcement of the new – and big steaming pile of dogpoop of a decision regarding Wine and Dine 2016 – I knew I had to get myself a proof of time to submit by August. I knew I wouldn’t have enough time to properly train for a half after surgery #2, my old times were just that – too old – so a 10k it would have to be. And if you live in south Florida, you’re basically screwed.
“Welcome to the Land of All Things 5k. Because our attention span won’t last long enough for anything longer.”
Thanks to the utter lack of 10k opportunities, I bit the bullet and went with the Down2Earth cross-country series that goes all summer long, with this particular race being held at John U. Lloyd State Park. Added benefit: they also run a 5k at the same time, so the hubby agreed to suffer right along with me. What concerned me? The whole CROSS COUNTRY part. I haven’t run cross-country since high school. The hubs has NEVER done cross country jaunts. This should prove to be interesting, if not entirely life-threatening.
If you’re supremely bored and happen to go to the race website, you’ll see our race was held at a lovely sounding location known to locals as Dania Beach. BEACH. As in SAND. LOTS OF FRIGGIN’ SAND.
Being the wise old runner that I am, (you can stop choking now), I figured it would probably be a good move to at least go down to the park before race day and figure out what the course would be. You see, there’s only beach, access road, and parking lot. That’s it. Intracoastal waterway on one side, and the Atlantic on the other. So on a balmy Sunday morning, the hubs and I drag our dupas out of bed, loaded up the cooler, and headed on down the road. We managed to stop one of the park rangers to see if he knew where the course would be. After all, he IS the park ranger. If anyone would know, he would. Right? Yeahhhhhhh, not so much. He gave us his best guess and we just flew with it. Right onto the paw print marked sand as you see here. I can honestly say I have never cursed so much at one race location in my entire life. I think the bobcats have permanently vacated the area after hearing what was coming out of this girl’s yap.
It was a good thing we took the morning to do this though, as a couple of weeks later, we were as ready as we could be for more than a few miles in the sand. The race field was very small, no more than 30-40 runners for both distances combined. Race directions were simple: run along the beach access road until you see the yellow tape, run around the tape, then run back to the start. 5k runners go once, 10k runners go twice. All right, we can handle that. It’s hot as hell, no breeze, typical south Florida summer humidity, nothing we’re not used to. We all line up at the start, laugh about how many of us are going to die, gun goes off, and off we go. Into the wild sandy yonder.
The hubs knew I was running for time so he wished me luck and off I went. Knowing that pacing was going to be a big factor, I did my best to keep the jitters under control and not go out too fast which I excel at doing. Mistake #1, thinking there would be a water station at the turnaround 1.5 miles out. Let me just stay this: every race I have EVER done had a water station around the 1-2 mile mark. EVERY ONE. This one? Not so much. I got up to the turnaround, saw nothing but stupid yellow tape, and proceeded to say things that made the local snakes drop dead in mid slither.
WHO THE HELL DOESN’T GIVE YOU A WATER STATION AT THE TURNAROUND POINT ON A BEACH RUN??? Oh, wait…..
Now, I put this one all on me. I should’ve known better when my previous contact with the race director asking if there was going to be a water stop was met with complete silence. Definitely on me. Lesson learned. Moving on.
I passed the hubs on the way back and told him of the unfortunate circumstance and warned him that I think I had inadvertently killed a snake with my vocal venom.
“There’s no water at the turnaround.”
“You’re kidding me.”
“I’m a monkey’s friggin’ uncle.”
(We have a special relationship.)
Thankfully, after the final half mile back to the start in the softest sand you could imagine – and mind you this was just at the end of the first loop – they at least had water set up at the start line. After stopping long enough to gulp down a couple of cups and throw a couple more over my head, off I went for Hell in the Sand part 2. Which was pretty uneventful and much like Hell in the Sand part 1. Pretty views of the ocean, lizards looking at us humans like we were nuts – guess they call it like they see it – and for the most part, completely by myself. Race support? Non-existent. (Good thing no one dropped of heatstroke out there, they’d have been screwed). So I just kept my head down, stopped freaking out over the ugly times I kept seeing on the trusty watch, and thanked the runner gods that the hubs had enough functioning brain cells to fill a bottle he had with water and toss it to me as I passed him for the second time on my way back out.
I managed to trudge back out to the turnaround, back through what beautiful little shade there actually was on the access road, out the to hellacious sugar sand along the beach, and finally made the final turn for the promised land. About 300 yards from the finish, the hubs was standing on the side so I tossed him my iPod, turned on the after burners and hit the line still in an upright position. I was hoping for a 60 minute finish time, but considering the terrain, I would have been happy to finish in 75.
Imagine my surprise, and somewhat sweaty delight, when I was told I had actually finished in 64 minutes, and good enough for 2nd place female! (Which sadly, once the results were posted on the website I was bumped down to 3rd place, but hell, I’LL TAKE IT!)
So here’s my takeaway from the Down2Earth 5 and 10k Cross-Country Run:
- Ability to see the course online prior to race day – zip
- Questioned answered by race director prior to race day – dog poop
- On course race support – nada
- Would I do it again? – perhaps
Here’s why that last one isn’t a flat out no. I found out afterwards this was the first time this race was held at this location. Normally they’re put on at Oleta State Park in Miami. I’ve taken my bike there a few times and the park trails are CONSIDERABLY more runner friendly than at John U. Lloyd. I got the impression when the race director was telling us about the races at Oleta, and proceeded to wave his hand at the sand and say “there’s no running in this kind of crap at Oleta”, that he wasn’t happy about the conditions either. The only hangup for us? Lloyd Park is only about a half hour away from our humble abode. Oleta is a little more than an hour. And in Miami. MIAMI. Trust me, not NEARLY as glamorous and these guys made it look.
The ending of the story? I got my proof of time for Disney. I got to run a race again, with the hubs. I haven’t been able to do that in years. Neither of us died. I got a medal. I know now that I have the verbal ability to scare away bobcats and shock snakes to death with my vocal venom. ALL GOOD THINGS.
The aches and pains we felt over the next few days in places that neither of us knew we could be achy and painy from running in the sand? Well. That’s a story for another day.
Enjoy the ride.
Have you ever been disappointed with support at a race? Have you ever done an entire race in the sand? What are the worst conditions you’ve ever tun in?