Sunday, March 20, 2011

1:31:03 or M:UD:DY

How do you feel about looking at and talking about mud for the next few minutes? Yeah? Good thing.

My eyes can't unsee this.

Dudes, it was so muddy.

It rained all Friday night and HEY FUN it was still raining when I woke up to my alarm Saturday morning at 6:30 (ew) and as I drove for an hour to the East Bay it was raining yet still, so when I parked and headed over to the shuttle, I just got ready to be wet for the foreseeable future.

You know, one of those moments where you just clamp down and steel yourself against the forthcoming cold and damp. You try to forget how nice and warm and dry it is in the car. You say bye-bye to dry socks. You know, the usual.

Except this was not the usual. Because this wet and cold was totally a side dish to the big enchilada which was The Mud.

When I showed up at the start area, picking up my bib and chip on race day rather than my usual Super Anal Retentive early packet pick up the day before strategy, all things were already pretty wet and muddy.

FYI: Prepare to read the words "Mud" and "Muddy" about every other word in this post because, you know.

Thankfully, I didn't do my usual Show Up An Hour Before Race Time thing because I knew the weather was shitastic and didn't want to stand out in it, so once I got my bib on and did a fair amount of stretching, it wasn't long before the half marathoners (god rest their souls) were off, and we in the 10K group were only 15 minutes behind them.

I heard rumors of a 50K group coming over the hill from a very early race start (something in the 6s), but until I saw the photos of that group, I really didn't believe these people existed. The craziness! It would have to be extreme! And, according to the photos, it was.

Minor creek crossing. FOR 50 KILOMETERS. Holy.

For us though, heading out on our own 6.2 mile adventure, we set off around 9:15 with light rains, a decent surface under our feet (AKA It wasn't mud) and a bit of wind swirling around our cold faces.

Have I said it was cold? It was cold. Something on the order of 45 degrees at race start. Which, not too bad under normal circumstances, but it was also raining, so standing around wet in 45 degree weather while the wind does its thing is, like, well, chilly.

We were all basically shivering and looking all big eyeballed at the race announcer getting ready to get started, especially when he announced via the loudspeaker that, "By the way, folks, there are a lot of creek crossings out there, so don't let me catch you in the post race photos tip-toeing around the edge of any of these creeks because it's not going to work. Just blast right through them."

HOO-ray. I should have worn a wetsuit. Or perhaps brought my snorkel.

But you know, at this point I was already settling into my It's Raining mindset. The one you get like when you're camping or whatever and it's cold and there's nothing you can do about it so you just go on as though it's perfectly normal to be standing around in the rain being wet.

Because at that moment, the biggest thing concerning me was the wet and cold.

So we set off. Somewhere about 9:15am.

That girl that looks like she's being Rocky Balboa there with the hood - that's me. Douche.
The first, say, 100 yards of the trail was fine. A little splashy, but totally unremarkable aside from its actual runability.

Beyond that? Well, let me summarize: dark brackish mud, sticky milk chocolate mud, oddly chunky what-appeared-to-be limestone mud, mid-calf deep creek crossing, horse poo mud, narrow uphill slippery single track trail (also mud), knee deep creek crossing, wide foot well ridden mud trail, a gate, creek crossing, trail that's a creek, huge slippery hill where you have to hold on to trees on the edges to get to the top, giant downhill slide some chose to ride on their asses or as though they were ski-skating, creek crossing, big puddles, uphill mudslide, people falling up, downhill mudslide, people falling down, 10K turnaround loop (AKA A mostly flat creekbed which was obviously full and running), more mud, more creek crossings, more puddles, more mud, OH MY GOD FLAT ROCKS HOORAY, more mud, a gate again, brackish mud, creek crossing, creek crossing, totally remarkable runable trail, DONE.

If this woman weren't giving me my finisher's medal in this photo, I'd be a might pissed she's blocking my heroic finish.

Or something like that.

Don't laugh at my hoodie/hat/sunglasses combo - it was cold, raining and mud was flying at my eyes. SHUT UP, YOU.

What I'm trying to say was that all my yet unfulfilled desires for playing in the mud and splashing in puddles were fulfilled yesterday and WHOOPS whetted once again because now all I want to do is go back out and do it again.

Y'all - it was a fucking blast.

I got to stomp through high water, with people around me mind you, just as fast and splashy as I wanted, without a care for who or what got wet, like a hundred times. And then, THEN, I got to splash, splosh, smack, squoosh, through 5+ miles of the stickiest, gooshiest, most suck-the-shoes-off-your-feet muddy mud that a five year old person could hope for.

The mud pies I could have made. Seriously. The best ever.

And then I practically sailed across the finish line like a god damned warrior and had a really good grilled sausage from the super great post-BBQ spread put on by Whole Foods and some other race sponsors.

It's hard to describe how lovely it was to stand amongst a couple hundred other muddy, sweaty, soaking wet runners in the rain eating a very good grilled sausage while other muddy, sweaty, soaking wet runners came trotting across the finish line. Including the half marathon winner man who came in while I was loading up my sausage (wow) somewhere around the 1:56 mark.  It was just lovely. And fun. And people were rad. And I can't believe I can have such a good attitude about an event that involved me being 100% wet and muddy and sweaty and cold for nearly 3 hours.

Between the shuttling and walking and getting ready and actual running and then eating and standing around and shuttling some more, I daresay I came close to becoming one with my running clothes.

My shoes - I hardly recognized them when I got to my car.  I peeled them and my drippy socks off for the drive home. When it came to cleaning, I'm not ashamed to say that there was a hose involved.

Brooks' before hosing.
Brooks' between hosings.

However, despite the treachery, I managed to come home from a 6.2 mile run with 1400' elevation gain and a time that was exactly the same as my training runs on solid, but equally steep, ground.

I'm taking that for the win.

Race fries courtesy of an old favorite.


  1. You. Are. My. Hero.

    It looks surprisingly fun and this is coming from a person who likes to stay clean ;-) I don't think my ankles would have been able to handle the mud and the slippling and sliding caused by the mud.

  2. Accepting the wet and mud is strangely liberating, isn't it? Not that I would have done this race voluntarily, but I have done more than my share of running, working, or playing soccer in the rain, and once you accept that you're going to be totally drenched and filthy, you can just get on with it.

    Good job, Finn.

  3. Yay!! So glad it went well! And another bonus? Think of all the money you saved bathing in mud on the run versus paying unspeakable amounts at the spa. Duh, winning...twice.

  4. You stud(ette). You muddy stud(ette). I will totally join you next time. (For the post-race fries.)


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