This weekend’s training run has been canceled and they encourage the runners to participate in a local Half Marathon (Dick Lytie Classic) instead. But this isn’t just any ordinary Half Marathon. This is a Half marathon, that even though I’ve run over a half-dozen half marathons and 2 full marathons, have been too afraid to race in the past. That’s because there are 3 mega hills in this race. Here is an excerpt describing the Half:
“In keeping with Dick’s legacy we try to keep the race challenging (read that as hilly), low-key and affordable. We pride ourselves on having distinctive and quality Tee Shirts in hip colors and variable weather (read that as iffy) as well as the Triple Climbs. The course has three major climbs (we don’t count the little gaffers) that make Heartbreak Hill seem like a pitcher’s mound. We have more aid stops now which is something Dick would have eschewed. He always believed in just two water stops, one at the start and one at the end. The views from on top of the Niagara Escarpment are spectacular and would be even better if you were not sucking air the whole time. We do mark the course well but the hills throw off everyone’s times anyway so it does not mean much. GPS units only emphasize how slow you are going and besides we certify the course………..to be the same for everyone!” (Also, I’m attaching a course map with an elevation chart. OMG… check out the elevation chart!!)
This race isn’t a popular race because it’s extremely challenging and last year they had approximately 350 finishers. And the time of year (remember the 17+ inches of snow we got yesterday) also makes it an easy race for people to pass up. But this year, I decided was my year to conquer the Dick Lytie Half Marathon. I’ve been running those hills for the past 3 or 4 months. And while I’ve been making it up the hills, it isn’t what I’d call easy. And when I ran the hills, it was part of a 4-mile run. Not part of a 13.1 mile run. The last of the 3 major hills on Saturday will be at mile 7. I ran 8 miles this past Monday night and paid attention to how I felt at mile 7. And ya know what… I felt tired. I did not feel like I’d be able to power my body up a large and long hill.
So, I ask myself… what the hell did I get myself into? Why did I feel the need to conquer this Half? Why not be content with “easy” (and I use that term loosely) Halfs? I’m not a good runner, so why add to the difficulty by running hills? I’m not a fast runner, so why add to my time by adding in really long, steep and pace-halting hills? I’m not a “go-with-the-flow” or “calm” runner so why add to my anxiety by making me lose sleep over a race that could not only be painful but also embarrassing.
And when I say embarrassing, yes I mean embarrassing. This race is not run by the “casual” runner but instead by hard-core runners that use this as a precursor for Boston. And when there are only 300-400 TOTAL runners competing there’s a really, really, really good chance I’ll finish dead last. And I’m not saying this to over exaggerate the situation, I’m saying this because this is an extremely real possibility. They may actually be picking the cones up behind me as I run. And this has always been by biggest fear. That at some point, I’m so slow, that the organizers are waiting for me to finish so they can tear down. I fully expect to see them tearing down the finish area as I cross the line because they didn’t know anyone was still out on the course.
I’m trying to find the positive about it and think about the really good story it will make when it’s all over with. I figure I can get a really good blog post out of finishing dead last. But in reality I’d sacrifice my good blog post and a really good story for NOT finishing dead last. I guess it’s not the finishing last part that has me so concerned as much as I’m worried about how much behind the 2nd-to-last-place runner I’ll be. If there’s a handful of us not-gifted-runners ending within eye sight of each other, I think I’d be okay with that. But if the organizers are starting to pack up, and are radioing each other to find out “if someone is still on the course”… and that someone is me… then that may make me cry just a tiny bit.
So, I encourage you all to stay tune to see what happens on Saturday. Will I power through and finish before they pack up the bagels, coffee and Gatorade? Or do I need to pack a thermos of coffee and leave it in the car because I’ll probably finish dead last and need to supply my own coffee and Gatorade? Or the 3rd scenario is that my husband takes pity on me and selflessly throws himself on his sword and finishes 6 paces behind me JUST so I can tell people that I did not finish DEAD LAST!
So until next time… gotta run. Gotta run up really steep hills!