I ran the Lost Dutchman 1/2 Marathon this morning and thanks to a silly error, I ended up running an additional 2 miles. It was my first time running this race and I was just happy I made it to the start line in time. In the time crunch, didn’t look at the map for the course. I never do, actually. I just situate myself in middle of the pack and follow those in front of me until I see the sweet, sweet finish line. Typically this works without a problem. This morning, not so much.
I felt like a silly sheep after making a turn at mile 3 (following the runners ahead of me.) We ran for a mile before we noticed angry runners were streaming back past us. Quickly it was decided we’d made a wrong turn and more than 100 of us had to turn back to join the rest of the race.
I was running alone, although it was easy enough to hear the grumbles of those around me as we headed back to the pack. It seemed the excitement of the race immediately fell to the pavement, only to be trampled by 200 disappointed feet. I could feel myself being pulled into the cloud of discontent — so instead I forced a smile, turned up my iPod, and said to the woman running nearest to me, “Ha! Now we get a 15 mile run for the price of 13!” She looked at me like I was mad. I smiled wider.
Where the Lost Dutchman lacked in race management (seriously, no food on the course? Are you kidding me?), it won in the scenery department. The Superstition Mountains are stunning and even though I’m an East Valley native, they still catch me in awe. The sun rose over the dark purple mountains, surrounded by bright pink clouds. The sunrise was glorious. The saguaro cacti stretched their arms toward the morning sun. The quail were chirping and scattering about. Even the not-so-native snow birds were there in full plaid effect, cheering from their driveways.
I love the desert. This really is the prettiest race I’ve ever run, hands down.

Now, a wee bit of advice from a weary, exhausted runner. If you are planning on running or walking or being at a marathon or 1/2 marathon, please consider the following:

– It is proper race etiquette to be at the very, very back of the pack if you are walking, or planning to walk any portion of the race. If you situate yourself at the front of the start line and then start walking, be prepared for an angry onslaught of runners to mow you down and curse you. It is just rude!

– If you have to stop for whatever reason during the race and do so immediately, be prepared to be mowed down by the runner behind you. It is common sense to move the margins when you are slowing down. Don’t these people drive? You can’t just stop in the middle of the lane on a highway. Consider a race the same!

– Runners are not more important that walkers. We all pay the same amount to be there. That said, when runners have trained for months to compete and you’ve just plopped out of bed in your sweats and decide to go for a long walk? Be respectful of the difference in commitment and get out of the way. You absolutely do not for any reason need to walk in the middle of the raceway.

– You really shouldn’t have to carry your own water on a race like this. You are doing yourself a disservice to haul that extra weight when they provide water every mile. Now food? I covet your Cliffshots on mornings like today when no food is provided.

My brother was at the finish line to cheer for me. It made me laugh to see him, brutally hungover, yet standing at the finish waving. He gave me a hug and then quickly stepped back.
Cody: “I was going to invite you for lunch, but, uh, you smell.”
Brilliant observation. Funny how 15 miles will do that to you.
Me: “Eh, I’ve got a clean t-shirt in the car. Meet me at Einstein’s? I’ll pay.”
Cody: “Yep.”

Good race. Good lunch.

November 2006 1/2 marathon: 2:28
December 2006 1/2 marathon: 2:16
Today’s 1/2 marathon (taking extra 2 miles into consideration): 2:10
WOO HOO! All those 5 am canal runs are starting to pay off.