I ran my favorite half marathon over the weekend. We call it the Fallsburg Half because you start and finish in Fallsburg Park in Lowell. The medal and shirt say "Old Fart's Half Marathon," no joke. It is run by the Old Fart's Running Club. So there you go.
This race is my favorite because it's a ridiculous challenge. This was my third year running it and the course has gotten progressively more difficult each year. The first year, my running buddy A and I knew very little about the race, thankfully! The course that year was about a 60/40 split of trail running vs. road running. Last year it was about 80% trail and 20% road. This year was probably 90% trail running.
When I say trail, you might have a picture in your head of a nice wide, clear hiking path. Oh, there are some stretches like that, but there's also trail that's barely wide enough for your own two feet and you're running single file with one runner on your heels and one directly in front of you if you're lucky enough to be running in a pack. Running in a pack is helpful so you don't feel like you're lost and alone running through the woods and it keeps you motivated to keep moving.
We traversed a few streams, gingerly stepping on rocks or a fallen tree to get across the water and up the slightly muddy bank. Under fallen trees, over fallen trees. Up some of the steepest hills and down them as well. They are so kind to put a rope "railing" on some of the descents. Probably because it helps keeps the body count down, lolz! They even named one descent Geronimo! Then there was "Little Chuck," a hill so steep to climb, the sign said something like "Bet it makes you walk. Haha!" I'd like to meet the person who ran most or all of the hills and would pay them to train me to be able to do the same! Tough stuff!
Another reason the race is my favorite is that people are super friendly and you end up chatting with people more than in any other race I've run. I think the fact that it's so difficult makes people just relax. I know I was out to enjoy the experience, not beat the clock, so maybe others were as well. We chatted with a guy from near Ann Arbor and a couple from England who were running the full marathon and then had another marathon to run on Sunday. True story!
Just under three miles into the race, only 10 or so more to go. All smiles!
(photo via the race's site)
I finished the half marathon in 3:02:04. Last year's time was 3:05:28, which I just looked up and am surprised! I actually improved! Ha! My personal best at Fallsburg is 2:26:43 in 2009 when there was more road and less trail! My PR for any half marathon is 2:16:37, my first half ever in 2008. Go figure!
Runners can talk running till the cows come home. It's a little odd sometimes to talk about races with non runners. It's probably like that talking about whatever your "deal" is with anyone who doesn't get what your deal is all about. When you've run a race like Fallsburg in the morning and someone asks, "what did you do today?" how can you not be jazzed to tell a little bit about what makes running a race like Fallsburg so much fun! People who don't run tend to think doing something like Fallsburg or any distance race for fun is ridiculous and crazy. People can think I'm ridiculous and crazy, but I don't care because I'm doing what I love to do and having fun.
I hope every single one of you who read this blog has something you love to do, no matter what it is and you do it regularly purely because it makes you happy. That's what life is all about!