Yesterday was the Parks Half Marathon – a one way race through Rock Creek Trail in Montgomery County Maryland. I love this race, although the first two miles are on a road, the middle section is on the beautiful paved trail, and the last couple of miles are on a dirt and gravel trail.
I was glowing in the dark.
Last year I ran it on the one year anniversary of my cancer surgery, and this year it was the day before my second anniversary, so it is particularly meaningful. It can be hot and humid at this time of year, but last year we had an incredible cold front come in the night before the race; this year, not so much, but it wasn’t as bad as it had been. Morning temperature was about 65 degrees, but it was pretty humid.
About eight of the runners from my Galloway training program were running the race, and for some this was either their first race, or their first half marathon. I, of course, was supposed to set a good example, after all I am the co-director of the program. Falling down a half mile into the race is not the best way to be a role model.
As I mentioned, the first two miles are on a road, and there are grates at the side of the road where rain water flows into when there is a storm. I didn’t like running over those grates, and I even said “I don’t like these grates.” Thirty seconds later I tripped over one of them, and landed on my knees and hands, although my hands weren’t even scraped up or bruised, most of the crash was absorbed by my knees.
But, seeing as how I had to set a good example, and I had 12 1/2 more miles to go, I just got up and kept running. I bummed a piece of a paper towel off of someone and stopped every once in a while to wipe up the dripping blood.
Around the fourth mile there was a medical stop, so I ran over there and found a couple of bored looking women holding wooden sticks with blobs of vaseline on them. That was not going to help me. I asked, “Do you have anything for this?” pointing to the blood. The women replied, “uh, oh, uh….uh” and started looking around their table and their buckets of supplies. I guess they weren’t expecting me, I should have called ahead.
They did find something called “Wound Wash” and sprayed that on me and they offered me some little cotton things, but I said I preferred a couple big pieces of paper towel, and then I took off to catch up to my group. At this point, things were ok, just an annoyance really.
Around the fifth mile my right knee was getting sore. It started to swell, but I was still feeling pretty good. The last two miles of this race are on an incline, which is not pleasant, but by then my knee was really sore every time I landed on my right foot, which was often, it being a race and all.
But I did pass someone in worse shape than me. About a quarter of a mile before the finish line a runner got hit by a bike. For some reason cyclists were allowed to be riding on the trail. When I got to the accident site, the race officials were pulling her out of a ditch and onto a golf cart. I would have been incredibly angry if I ran almost an entire half marathon and then couldn’t finish because of an incredibly ignorant cyclist. I think I would have given him the chip off my shoe and asked him to ride it over the finish line at least.
I did make it across the finish line, and was met by a volunteer who I happen to know and who took a look at me and escorted me to the medical tent. I had them take a picture before they cleaned me up.
Other than that, it was a great race. There was a guy playing a grand piano halfway through the race – kind of like the Big Sur marathon, without Big Sur.
Another guy dressed up as superman was riding his bike with a boombox on the back, and parking at various locations to blast his music. I would have preferred more music along the route, but since it’s a trail I can see how that would be difficult to set up.
It wasn’t my best race, it was probably my worst, but it certainly was my bloodiest! And I was so proud of the runners in my group – they all finished the race and we were a happy bunch.