Well, my first race of the season.
Julie and I drive out into the middle of nowhere. Truly the middle of nowhere. I think I saw a house once. And normally for long races, you DO start in the middle of nowhere, and then you end up in the city. But this one was an out-and-back, so you start in the middle of nowhere, run out farther into nowhere, and then come back into the nowhere that you started.
So we finally find the place to check-in, only because there were like 3 people standing together in a field. The race was supposed to start in 30 minutes, and they were barely blowing up the starting line. So all the half marathoners, all 26 of us, congregated together to listen to a women give instructions, "At mile 2, go straight. Mile 3, you'll see this. Mile 5, Do that. Mile 6, turn here," and so on... Because of course I can remember 13 pieces of direction to guide me through the middle of nowhere. But we didn't listen because we couldn't hear her very well, and we were confused, and because other races mark the trails so you don't have to bring a google maps print-out while you run.
Then they abruptly blew the horn and we take off.
We run off into a maze of weeds and a curvy path of unknown swamp lands. Around mile 4, the runners had become fairly spaced apart from different paces. I was third in the race, but because of all the turns and head-high weeds, I couldn't see anyone in front or behind me. I came to a point in the path that turned off down a different path or headed straight into an area that looking like a parking lot. So I ran into parking lot area, but didn't see the path extend any farther, so I ran back to the turn and looked around. I saw a bobbing head in the distance so I ran in that direction. A string of ladies behind me followed. I ran all the way to the end of that path, which ended in a subdivision, between two homes. Now 3 roads extended in front of me. I turned and saw the runner on my right, now realizing it was a man. And since this is a women's only race, he was a useless person to chase down. But, he may know where the path begins again, so I kept running. He turned down a road which went further into the neighborhood, and that's when I realized, I am chasing this man to his house.
I turn around and many other racers have followed me. So as I begin running back to the course, they all turn with me. All of this guy's hopes and wishes go dashing to the group as his mob of women turn and run the other way.
We make it back to the course, and we see the tailend of the racers heading by. We join back in, and we all somehow make it out to the halfway mark. Which is also, the first and only water station. HURRAY! Because we're all so parched, and normal races have drink stations every couple miles. What are we?? Pioneers? War refugees? C'mon.
So, because this is an out-and-back, at the halfway mark, you literally run up to the drink station, grab a cup, and then turn around and start running back.
I catch up to Julie, and she and I both start laughing at the absurdity of this experience. But we can't quite acknowledge how ridiculous it is, because we still have several miles left to go.
We finish the race... wahoo! And then we go to the drink station. Guess what? THEY ARE BLOODY OUT OF WATER!! And every woman that crosses the finish line behind us is so so aggravated because basically everyone got lost at some point and ran off on some unmarked territory. Probably following a man to his home like my running possey did. So we all set out to run 13.1 miles, and most of us ending up running closer to 18-20 miles.
So Julie just looks at me and says, "I've had enough of this place." And we get in her car and leave.
About the most anticlimatic race I've ever finished.
But in no better company and leaving with no better story. And also, I just need it to be known that if I had not gotten off course, I would have finished 2nd. :)
Upward and onward,