I can think of very few reasons why a person would run screaming down a mountainside for thirteen miles in the drizzling rain. I’m thinking bear attack or escape from an ax murderer, but last week my friend Allison and I did it because it sounded like fun. The Scream Half Marathon took place in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina and we were lucky enough to be two of the just over two hundred people that were able to participate.
We traveled to the mountains on Friday afternoon to stay with Allison’s mother at His High Places. The landscape was gorgeous and we couldn’t have been more excited. Get a load of this place!
The weather was a brisk 59 degrees when we arrived- a welcome relief from Virginia’s blistering heat, but it did leave me a bit worried about my race plans. I was expecting (and training for) a race day that would be hotter than Hades, and worse yet the forecast was calling for a slight chance of rain. After a giant dinner we got our race gear ready….
And tucked in early for our 4:45 wake up call.
Can you spot a couple of nerds when you see them?
We awoke Saturday morning to a light drizzle, thick fog, and temps in the low 50’s. So hard to believe in mid-July, but I guess mountain weather is unpredictable. Allison’s mother and sister dropped us at the starting line and headed down to the two mile marker where they had volunteered to hand out water. I should add that this was Allison’s first half marathon (she’s only been running less than two years) and her mom was busting with pride. Can you blame her? I was proud of her too. A half marathon is no easy feat and then you add something as crazy as a downhill run through the mountains into the mix. She’s fearless I tell ya.
We checked and double checked our laces. I was a bit intimidated by the wet road surface, the rain, and the fact that it looked as though we were literally running inside of a cloud.
One last trip to the bathroom before the start.
A race with Allison and myself wouldn’t be complete without a restroom adventure. As seems to be our M.O. we found the porta-potties to be full and headed to the woods. And as usual, we were caught. Fearless Allison went first while I was on the lookout. Just as she was in the middle of her “break” I spotted a man coming down the trail. I coughed a quick “Man coming!” at her and she whipped her pants up so fast I thought she was going to fall over into the weeds. All I can say is thank God it was raining anyway…Bwahahaha!
Finally we all lined up at the starting line, covered in the light mist but thankful the sun wasn’t blazing heat down on us. There was such a mix of people at the race. It seems as though people came from everywhere to be the pioneers of The Scream. I was extremely impressed with how organized this event was. In the mountains of what seemed like the middle of nowhere, I thought it stood a chance of being a disaster but as soon as we arrived I knew this was going to be an excellent race.
The first two miles were mostly flat and a little uphill. The surface was blacktop road. Shortly before the two mile mark we made a turn and headed down a gravel/dirt road. This would be our surface for the next eleven miles.
One quick drink and then I’m off.
Miles three and four were such a blast, I found myself holding my arms out, smiling, and fleeing down the mountain like a little kid. The twists and turns of the road were a little tricky with the road beginning to become muddy from the rain but it just added to the fun of it.
At mile 5 my feet were totally wet.
At mile 6 I developed a blister the size of Rhode Island on the ball of my foot…and the drizzle turned to a full on rain.
Mile 7 was a hill that appeared to descend straight to…. I was like the train in Unstoppable. You could have put something in front of me to slow me down but I couldn’t have stopped if I wanted to. This locomotive had no breaks.
At mile 8 I happened to reach back and feel my hair. The rain had soaked it and the running had made it tie itself in one giant knot that stood straight out on the back of my head. I imagined I looked like Marge Simpson.
Miles 9- 11were a blur of blister, mud, rain, Clif shots, and pain but I don’t think I ever stopped smiling.
Right around mile 12 I crossed a concrete bridge and heard a woman say that we were still under 2 hours. After running on that dirt and gravel surface the concrete burned my feet. It was sort of like landing on the ground after jumping on a trampoline, but it looked like this:
and it was amazing.
Mile 12 was cruelly flat. Enough said about that.
I was so happy to see the finish line.
My husband says I have the world’s most unattractive run. He is correct.
But it doesn’t have to be attractive to get me to where I need to be.
It wasn’t long before Allison joined me at the finish line.
|Allison’s first 5K (less than 2 years ago)|
I’ve said repeatedly that this will be my last half marathon. I told myself that all summer and the whole way down the mountain. It’s hard on your body and takes so much time to train. The race itself isn’t the hard part, it’s all the miles that lead up to it. I’m thinking it’s time to slow down a little (as if I was fast to begin with). I’ve pretty much made up my mind…..but I think there may be one race that could pull me out of retirement next year. I’ll see you at the bottom.