I can now relate much better to Jody's recollection of his first run with the group, and how sometimes the way the run is portrayed is not quite accurate. So let me tell you about our weekend.
It all began when the Lambs told us about this cool 1/2 marathon in St Catherines. There was to be beer or wine offered at the halfway point, so obviously it would be a gentle course that could introduce people to the notion that running and drinking can, and should, go together. Titled 12 mile creek, it would be a flat course gently and serenely weaving its way to a likely even more gentle, weaving, maybe even downhill trajectory on its way to the finish. Here people would congratulate you, while also warning you that all courses might not be this forgiving.
So it was set that Bruce, Jenny, Kelly and myself would take on this little warmup of a run before trying some real races later in the year. The night before however, we got a last minute email from Kelly- "I just looked at the course - are you f*^&$^$#^ crazy? I'm not going to go kill myself --er-- I mean my kids just got an emerrrrrgency art project, that's it, art-----and I have to stay home. Sorry, see you later---Kelly"
And so it was three, with Bridget gamely coming along because we mentioned wine. Bruce and Jenny kept giggling -mmmmnnn--must be an inside joke.
We drove to the starting line the next day going up and down through a bunch of hills. Must be a shortcut. At registration there were 2 types of bibs - newbies got one in orange covered with emergency numbers, returnees got one made of flaked gold - neat. Then we were led to the starting line by a lady playing "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes, followed by a minute's silence for all the runners lost in last year's race. Kind of weird. Then the starting gun went off, and a bunch of us took off at a controlled pace. After a mile or 2 we looked around / looked back, and realized that we all had orange bibs - every one who had run it before was still walking! Man- we're gonna clean up!
Soon we were on a trail that was kind of rocky and windy - even some ups and downs - so everyone held their position. By 3-4 miles it seemed to be getting downright hilly but we trudged on, with the water station people being very friendly / laughingly saying so far so good!! What a pleasant bunch! By 4-5 miles it had spread out some and the cute little knolls were turning into some grinding hills. Then I came to a fork in the trail with no sign. After waiting for a while someone came along and told me which trail to take. Neat, I never stood around in a race before. Finally, the trial flattened somewhat and by the time I got to the turnaround I was fifth. Beer was indeed being served. After having several (they came in stupid little cups) the volunteers were overheard saying "these are the fast runners?" Obviously they didn't know how people from Lucan race, so I left.
Retracing our route going back over the the stinking hills and dales and bridges and creeks - I thought this was supposed to be easy! - I saw Bruce and Jenny running together--still giggling---as our paths crossed, and then I continued on. Finally, on this hot hilly day I come out of the godforsaken goat trail and can see where we started and the crowds. I sprint forward to look good at the end, while secretly noting my gps says its only 10 miles - teehee-the idiots can't even measure the route right- when I notice the redneck hillbillies show the route bypassing the finish area and continuing up a hill! Fine, bring on your stupid little hill and get this over with. We had driven on part of it, and as long as we rode the brakes we didn't slide too badly. Up I go past where our car is, looking for the turnaround. Oh, I see, someone pointing to go up this other road to the right that was hidden by trees. As I huff around the turn - man this is getting steep - I look to see what awaits me. Holy mother of everything rotten - I crane my neck up but I still can't see the peak. I realize I may have soiled myself. Off I go---as I trudge along up and up and up and up and up - my gps warning goes off asking my why I'm not moving. On and on I go, with the mountain face continuing to curl ever upward just out of reach. Soon the treeline thins out, and still I go on. People with oxygen masks, ropes and funny shoes with spikes go climbing near to me, but I don't see bib numbers on them so I don't worry. Downhill I can see orange bibs being picked off by gold ones coming forward like a wave of locusts. Behind me I see the guy in sixth--with a gold flecked bib--closing in so on I must go. Finally, just after breaking through the clouds I reach the peak!!!! Oh look, there's Niagara Falls way down there. The last water station here is manned by the maytag repairman, who seems really surprised to see someone. Finally, I get to descend. Knowing that people get the bends from resurfacing too quickly from the ocean's depths, I wonder if some similar life threatening condition awaits me if I come down too quickly from the heavens. That guy is way behind me anyway so I'll take it easy. As I trot downward I see a taped off path but far below someone's playing the flute! So obviously I'm meant to leap this tape and follow the music. And so I do. Down 200-300 meters of cliff face I finally come to the flutist, telling him how glad I am to see him and how beautiful was his song. But buddy, he says, "you weren't supposed to come down there- go back!" What the---!? After telling him where that flute belonged and what he should do with his mother sometime (I may have been a mite testy) off I went back up the cliff. As I regain a toe hold getting over the top ledge again and stand up - here comes that guy, whose name I have for him rhythms with stick, right behind me!
Oh goody, the mile descent down through a washed out river bed of jagged rocks/roots and gaping holes (these are the safe areas) can now be spent racing as fast as I can. Now I know where the phrase "break-neck" speed comes from. As I emerge unto the final stretch, finishing in just under 2.6 days, and collapse--the guy who finished right on my tail wanders up not even sweating and says- Gave ya a wee scare did I? They'll never find his body.
But then there was beer and chips and pizza at the end, so I would recommend this gentle fast course to everyone next year. But never trust anything Bruce and Jenny tell you. EVER.