April 15, 2014

The first prep race for China

The Great Wall Marathon may be over a year away, but the preparation has already started.  When I announced my plans to run it, my friend Stacy asked if I'd like to run a half marathon with her in Chesapeake, Virginia - the Dismal Swamp Stomp - which took place this past weekend.

Stacy is kind of not human.  She's done 6 marathons, a few half Ironmans, maybe even a full Ironman (I can't remember), and she gave birth to her second child a mere three months ago.  Half marathon 3 months postpartum?  No problem.  If you're Stacy, that is.  If that were me, I'd still be trying to cross the finish line.

This small, flat race was scheduled for a Saturday morning.  That meant fighting traffic leaving DC on a Friday after work, which is never, ever, ever even remotely enjoyable.  Chris and I left just after 5pm.  Thanks to a horrific truck accident hours earlier, we averaged a whopping 35 mph the entire trip.  6 hours after we left DC, we arrived at the hotel that I Hotwire-ninja'd a few weeks back.

I hate driving.  The only thing I hate more than driving is driving in DC.  And this is why.

After not enough hours of sleep, it was race time.  The weather simply couldn't have been more perfect - sunny, low humidity, and temperatures in the low 60s.  I was hydrated and had downed plenty of coffee, but I was still feeling the 6 hour car ride and the lack of sleep.  As we took off, Chris was napping happily in the car.  I was a tad jealous.

The course was an out-and-back that followed a canal trail through the Great Dismal Swamp.  The name sounds like something that will suck the life out of you, but the course was beautiful.  And flat.  Gloriously flat.

I actually thought I had a shot at finishing in under 2 hours.  Then I hit mile 11.  Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. Mile 11 was my come-to-Jesus mile.  Why am I doing this?  I should just walk.  Why the hell did I drive 6 hours is infuriating traffic to do this to myself?  Is that bird mocking me?  What am I doing with my life?  Why am I running on a perfectly beautiful Saturday morning?  I should be getting ready to go sit on my ass and drink mimosas and then take a nap.  WHY DO I HATE FUN?

And then just past the 12.5 mile marker, I started to hear people cheering.  Racers that had already finished had ventured back down the course to cheer us on.  Spectators at the finish line were yelling.  

I picked up my pace a little bit.  I got to the finish where the crowds were, including Chris waiting with his iPhone to take a picture.  I tried to not look wiped the hell out.  When I saw the picture later, I just looked kind of constipated.  I can live with that.

Stacy finished a few minutes later, beating her goal time by about 2 minutes.  She rocks.

Stacy's family came over, and we made our way over to the post-race area, where we found runner refreshments of pizza and beer.

Pizza and beer!  At 10am!  This is why I do this.  This is why we drove 6 hours in traffic.  Screw you, waterfowl, I have beer.  This is why I ran 13.1 miles on a beautiful Saturday morning.  THIS IS FUN.

Even better, Stacy gave me her beer tickets since she's nursing a 3 month old.  More beer for Chris and me.  I read once that beer is a good recovery drink.  I don't care if it is or not.  I'm rolling with it, and please don't tell me otherwise.

It was absolutely perfect outside at this point.  Sunny, breezy, perfect temperature, band playing, good friends, and pizza and beer at 10am in a beautiful state park in southern Virginia.  And I beat my old half marathon time by 9.5 minutes (!).

The next morning, Stacy's 3 year-old son was at the hotel breakfast table wearing a Superman outfit.  As you do.  I almost asked him where he got it, but I realized I knew the answer.  He gets it from his mama. Stacy is definitely Superwoman - with super ideas like traveling to run flat half marathons in the glorious springtime weather.  I'm beyond happy that she invited me to join in the fun (traffic and mile 11 be damned) and happy that we both had great races because of it. Now I just have to run twice that distance on the Great Wall of China.  GAH.


  1. I'm seriously crying! Thank you for running with me and for writing words that just made my year!

    1. You are too sweet! Thank YOU for inviting us to join in the fun! I hope we can do it again!