(G): You start to have an inkling it’s going to be a rough day when you can’t find the start line of a race, you drive around for 30 minutes looking and this all happens before 7 am. That’s how our adventure with the Dawg Gone Long Run 50K began Saturday morning.
We were up and gathering our supplies at 4 am and headed to Paynesville, Ohio before 5 am.
We got into town around 6 am and had plenty of time, or so we thought. After a failed GPS attempt, we went old school and I was the navigator. Already this is a problem. What additionally turned out to be a challenge is the road we were looking for isn’t all connected. There is a jog but the longest I’ve ever seen since the two ends are separated by about 3/4 of a mile. We found one part of our target road but were stumped when the GPS said we had arrived but clearly we had not.
I’ve heard it be said that GPS makes you stupid and I am not sure that’s entirely true but it’s not entirely false.
After rather skill-free efforts, we pulled into the parking lot of the starting location just as the runners were taking off. Awesome!
At this point, we were late so there was no need to rush. We got our things together and went off to the aid station to pick up our race bibs. The reception was cool. It seems our being late was becoming quite the to-do. The race director had to lead us to the section added on due to storm damage and part of the course being closed. As we were starting the out and back section, one of the runners questioned what we were doing. Hmmm great, even the peanut gallery is mad.
I was feeling a bit defeated and running an overly fast first mile was kind of a downer.
But, finally, we finished the added-on section and got into the park. It was serious single track trail and overgrown. But the park was pretty and I was starting to feel better about it all. That is until we got to the storm damage that later we’d learn was actually tornado damage.
We climbed over, under, and around large trees that had been downed by Mother Nature’s wrath. I’ve never seen live trees skinned of their bark by a storm before but now I have. We continued to push through realizing this might be a long day. But all was well until we came out into a clearing that looked an awful lot like the clearing we were in about a mile or so before.
Oh yeah, and doesn’t that truck in the parking lot look awfully familiar. We’d missed a turn and while not exactly lost we didn’t know where the heck we were supposed to be. We jumped back on the trail and nearly missed the turn a second time.
We were so busy looking down to avoid roots we missed the markers on the right. The second missed turn wasn’t realized until we’d climbed a rather steep hill to discover “no orange marker.”
So back down the hill we went and found our missed turn. Thankfully this one was only about 40 yards back.
I’ll admit I really started to lose my mojo here. I have never made this many wrong turns, climbed over this many trees, been late to a race and been this unsure I would find my way out.
Eventually we made it to the halfway point and with some ice cold water and a little PBJ I felt revitalized and my spirits were lifted. It didn’t last. Around mile 12 the root tripping and serious bush-whacking through the jungle began. Before too long I wondered just how many miles we’d actually cover to finish this 16-mile loop.
Still continuing to climb around downed trees, we came upon a snake sunning itself on the path. It slithered away at the oncoming pounding of Swaggy J’s steps but then it started to make a rather unsettling rattle. Swaggy J claims it was a Rat Snake that “rattles” its tail. I, for one, didn’t care as much as I wanted to get far, far from it.
I squealed in fear as I ran by its foliage-covered hiding spot and hoped it wouldn’t jump out to greet me. It didn’t and I am thankful.
On and on we went until the true low point arrived. My GPS sounded the passing of another mile. I glanced down to see it had taken us 28 minutes!! What?
I started to think we might never leave this rabbit hole. We may just have to become survivalists and fashion a tent from leaves and our race bibs.
And then, finally,… civilization. We saw signs for the Visitor Center, which is where we began. It took us 5 HOURS and 20 Minutes to cover 18 miles of a 16-mile loop.
Go ahead, shake your head. I am still shaking my head. How did that happen?
The thought of doing that loop all over again and ending up with a 31 Plus Plus 50K wasn’t all that appealing. I told Swaggy I would happily wait for him if he wanted to tangle with the loop again but I didn’t. I was over it.
Much like our late arrival was met with odd stares, our early departure created the same.
It’s a dawg gone shame but we’ll live to fight another day. Little did I know that Sunday morning my husband would say, “We need hill training!” Before long we headed off to Hocking Hills and got another 6 miles in scrambling over rocks, roots and other natural formations. It was a beautiful day but overall I’d say that Lowi and her gang are the winners of this weekend’s chicken dinner.
(L) What a weekend! I told you I was recruiting my girls to run the Slacker Half Marathon with me and they did! While they had not been “training” for a half they had been running and working out. Plus, they are young, strong and I knew run, walk or crawl they could do it! Did I mention they both have Type 1 Diabetes? So, basically we packed enough sugar to make us all high! All three of us carried GU, Glucose and Gatorade chews. We were ready.
They were excited and nervous as we arrived at the start line, but I knew that once we began they would shake it off. The first two miles went great, they were going strong until Alex’s continuous glucose monitor (CGM) began setting off alarms for low blood sugar. By 2.5 miles we were walking and testing her blood sugar. One racer summed it up best as they ran by and commented, “that sucks!” Yes it does! So, 2.5 miles in, Alex’s blood sugar was 60 and she was pounding glucose and gatorade chews. To say she was frustrated would be an understatement. Slowly, we began to jog and by mile 4 she was up to 105. We were back in the game.
At mile 6 Reese was hoping for a bathroom break but I convinced her to pass the long line and go to mile 8 where I knew there would be no line. Alex decided the trees were good enough for her, but Reese was holding out for something a little more civilized. She had a limit to the fun she was willing to endure for one day and apparently dropping her shorts in the middle of the woods was going a little too far.
By mile 8 Alex was finding her groove and decided that while her family had stuck by her and triaged her through her low blood sugar she was ready to test her limits. She was off and running toward mile 9 while Reese took her much-deserved bathroom break. When Reese exited the bathroom I told her it was time to go hunt down mile 9. She wasn’t thrilled, but she kept going. The last 4 miles were tough and she was cranky. She was ready to be finished. This is the point where each person has to find their inner strength and dig deep and she did. As we began our steep descent into Georgetown I had goosebumps thinking about my girls crossing that finish line. They were doing it!
Reese gave it everything she had and we ran across the finish line together. Alex had finished about 10 minutes before and she was there to cheer us on. There were tears, but only after crossing the line. No doubt there was pain, but these were tears of joy and pride.
I could not be more proud of my girls. They had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they registered for the race, but I love that they were up for the challenge and weren’t afraid to take the chance. They inspire me everyday, but on Saturday I was in awe of their strength and character.
Several times over the last few days Alex and Reese have said with big smiles on their faces, “I can’t believe we actually ran 13.1 miles!”
Well, believe it! You did it! And to that runner that yelled, “that sucks.” You are right, it does suck, but it also makes it all the sweeter when you run across that finish line knowing you have conquered more than the mileage!
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G