I did a great race on September 9 called Dances with Dirt. Here is my race recap and some photos.
“Dances with Dirt” is a 100 kilometer 5-person trail relay race (also has 50k or 50-mile solo ultra distance) through the “bowels of Hell, Michigan”. The terrain varies from regular trail (like Buckeye), rocks, sand, muck, mud holes, rivers, lakes, etc. It is like the Woodstock of running races, because while there are serious runners, most are there just to have a good time (many teams dress in costume or have a theme). My team consists of 4 wonderful women and me. We call ourselves the Hillbilly Goats. For our shtick, we wear Texas flag running shorts, wife beater tank tops (with hillbilly names – mine was Jen-Bob – and “sponsors” like beer and NASCAR written on them in permanent marker). We also have an official “Hillbilly” straw hat, plungers with HBG written on them, trucker hats, a decorated toilet seat and a tag line “Git R Dun!” that we yell as our runner is finishing. Besides me, the 2006 team consisted of Carie and Nicole (2 long distance runners) and Samantha J. and Samantha B. (2 triathletes/long distance runners). This group of girls is so cool that I can’t even begin to describe how much I love hanging out and running with them. Anyway, I’ll move on to the race day report.
Hillbilly goats (Nikki Lee, Sammi Joe, Jen-Bob, Sammy Candi and Carie Mae)!
Team just before race start
Carie took off on the 1st leg and even though she twisted her ankle in the first mile, she came in a smoking fast time. I took off for the 2nd leg. I didn't wear my monitor, but I knew my HR was too high to start, but I reigned it back in. Somehow, I and at least 100 others got lost and ended up going 4-5 additional miles. When I came upon the big group in front of me, we worked together, turned around and eventually found our way to the correct ending point. At that point, my scheduled 6.2 mile route turned into at least 10 miles. I was tired and thirsty, but felt okay. I figured that I was the most trained for long distance, so it was best that it happened to me. My teammates were certainly worried about me and the look of relief on their faces was touching.
Sam B. was gone when I showed up finally. Carie told her to go no shorter than 40 minutes to conserve energy. She came in just under 41 minutes. Great job! Sam J. was next. She got a little lost and fell down creating a nasty bruise on her leg, but still put in a good time (apparently the runners behind her rated her falling skills and gave her an 8!). Nicole then took off for her first leg. She was the first to get wet!
Nic - plunger chick
Sam B. and Carie
Sammy Candi finishing her first leg
Jen-Bob before her river leg
Nic finishing her river leg
While Sam B., Sam J. and Nicole did those next three legs, I rested up. It was a chilly day, so I wasn't interested in standing in the river before my next leg's start. When Nicole came in, I jumped in the river and headed out. The river varied from 1 foot deep to waist deep. I got some small rocks in my shoes, but luckily, it didn't hinder me. The next 3 miles, I crossed three streams (ankle to waist deep). At the second stream, I landed on my side while trying to climb out on the slick, muddy bank. No injuries though, just dirty. : ) I finished the 3.3 mile leg in 36 minutes and felt good the whole time.
Me after falling in the mud
Carie took off then to do the famed “This Sucks” leg. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as filthy as prior years, so she was disappointed. Sam J. then did “Stripper Pole”. There was a dirt ladder on this one with a sign at the bottom that read “Elevator broke, must use dirt”. Unfortunately, she slid down after only making it up halfway, but then conquered the hill. Sam B. then went off on her wet leg, which was pretty much the opposite of mine, so she got to experience the river joy! As she was finishing, she fell up the muddy hill, but still had that big smile. Carie was an “Early Leaving Bastard”, so we had to rush to the next relay spot. Carie’s leg was hilly and I could tell she didn’t love it, but she was done for the day. Then, it was Nicole’s mucky leg called “Where’s the F’N Bridge”. I didn’t get to see her come in, but I was told she was covered in mud (her favorite way to be!).
Me with toilet seat decoration
Nic and me
Sam climbing the hill
Sammi Joe demonstrating how high the water got on her leg
She's got a little cap'n in her!
While the girls did those five legs, I rested again, but I did leave as an “Early Leaving Bastard” to conserve daylight. Last year, my last leg (called Vertigo due to the multiple high grass fields and steep inclines/declines) really kicked my butt. This year, I felt great the whole time. I even helped other runners stay on track with my eagle eyes spotting poorly marked turns. One lady shook my hand at the end of the leg to thank me. Of course, I really should give the credit to my LASIK doctor! I finished the 3.4 miles in 40 minutes and felt so good to have kicked butt on the leg this time. I was done for the day!
Sam J. was gone when I came in. When she finished her wet leg, we learned that she went through at least a half mile of chest deep water while crossing a lake. She also gashed her leg on something and was still bleeding the next day. She still had a great time though and can’t wait for next year! She and I then cracked open some cold beer! Sam B. did her leg next and will be happy not to do that leg again for awhile, but she enjoyed the cold one after she finished too. Nicole finished off the day with a fabulous 10-minute pace despite her knee pain (apparently Houston has no hills, so the “Billy goat” was out of practice). Overall, we finished in just over 12 hours once the time on the “cheating bastard” card was added to our finish time. We finished 293 out of 345 teams once the handicap for gender and age was factored in for all teams. We might not have been the fastest, but we certainly had a fabulous time!
Sam J., Sam B., me, Carie and Nic at the finish line
So, for the whole day, I covered around 17 miles instead of the planned 13, but felt better than I had the last two times I did this race. I credit Angela for training me so well and for my running partners (Carie, Sam B., Sam J., Suzi, Stacy and Paula) braving the Buckeye Trail with me (including during a terrible thunder storm) on many a long run or brick! Can’t wait till next year!
Chili dog dinner