When the finish line is an empty campsite – Run Report

Posted on July 4, 2010


I spent the last 4 days in the middle of nowhere – and had to run a 1/2 marathon distance long run while in nowhere. Well, not really nowhere. ‘Nowhere’ was actually Redbud Motorcross Track in Buchanan, MI where I was for the Pro National Motorcross Race from Thurs-Sunday of the 4th of July wknd. But to get to RedBud – you have to head past the “Now Entering Nowhere” sign, then keeping going another 10 mins.

When I saw that I was due for this kind of mileage on a wknd away camping with Drew & friends where there is no indoor plumbing, no shower except for a bag with a hose on it, and absolutely NO control over the route I’d be able to run or the timing of the day, I was less than thrilled to put it mildly.

I didn’t actually need to run 13.1 this wknd, I needed to do 13 – and the only way I got my attitude turned around about this whole little endeavor was by deciding I’d tack on a .1 to this long run & make it the 1st ever Redbud Half Marathon – and aim to be the winner of this race – what would be my first time ever winning a race (never mind the single digit participant number) – so alright! There we go! Something to get excited about!

I needed that little mental game for myself because the thought of 1)not having a bathroom (port-o-potty’s are NOT bathrooms) 2)not knowing if I was going to be able to run on streets or would be running around a field & 3)the general idea of being totally out of my comfort zone for pre-run food/hydration, post run stretch/shower & my awareness of my location in the world was disconcerting, to say the least.

Just the thought that went into “if I run around the camping field, it will be on un-level but soft ground, and will require me to do MANY laps around dirtbike race fans who’d probably yell ridiculous stuff at me for the entire time” or “if I run on the streets, do I run just out till half my mileage goal is met then turn around and run back or do I criss-cross around the streets- and if I do either, which way will give me more shoulder space so I am not a hood ornament for the nimrods who seem to have no cognition of what to do when they see a human being sharing shoulder space on the road with them” (Hint: you’re an asswipe if you don’t at least give me an inch or two – and I curse you if you actually try to aim at me then swerve just before.)

See? It’s tiring just reading that! Thus, the motivation of being the winner of a self-created 1/2 marathon was perfect.

I went out for a 45 min run the day before to check out the area – I came back & one of Drew’s friends asked if I did all my mileage – yep, I’ve set a new land speed record for a 1/2 marathon- 45mins. I wish! The way I went was hilly & nice but ZERO shoulder space & I was tight the whole time just worrying about being run off the road. Ok, back to the original plan of me doing the long run in a big field where everyone camps on race day. I’d have to circle the perimeter a ton of times, but I’d be close to our camp & Drew if anything went wrong on the run.

Then they decided they weren’t letting anyone up on that field until 10am Sat – way too late to start a long run and thanks very much for putting that giant field within site and then blocking it off with 2 hillbillies who didn’t know much other than they were absolutely not allowed to let me up there until 10am Sat. Looks like it’s streets for me then!

One hillbilly let me know that there was a quiet road if I went the opposite direction as the day before – so off I went. Down the road, hang a right on Miller, and that will take me to the quiet….ohhhhh crap that’s a big effing hill right off the bat…I so hope this is not hints of what’s to come. Up and over the hill and onto that quiet street.

Which was totally quiet except for the giant RVs & semis bringing in the pro motorcross riders gear. Oh, and the bird that crapped on my shoulder (Italian good luck charm?) & the dog that chased me. This dog would give chase when I was moving away from him but as soon as I turned around and started pointing my fingers at him & yelling – he’d trot back to his house, then turn and chase, then turn and trot home, chase, home, chase, home. Seriously?? Finally a lady in a nightgown came out and grabbed him. Other than that, it was a quiet street.

The rest of the run was lovely/uneventful – which is a good thing! Corn fields – hm, tiny compared to what we see in big farms by us, wonder if they’re not using GMO crops like everyone else has gone to, I’m tempted to stop & ask…Hey! A wine field! White wine is growing on those vines! I want some!!! Wonder if I could run the rest of the way back holding a bottle or two?…Shoot, the entrance gates to Redbud & I still have 0.6 to go – looks like I need to take a lap around the campsite to make this thing legit. Was kind of hoping Drew & friends would be there when I finish to toss me a cold water bottle & a towel, and to snap a pic or two of me “winning” my 1/2.

But our campsite was a virtual ghost town when I arrived, no fan fare, no cheers, just me finishing a run – the world keeps moving on as if nothing happened. You see, if it weren’t for psyching myself up with the mental game play in the days leading up to this “longest-run-yet-in-the-training-for-Iceland program”, I would have been totally bummed knowing that I may just be coming back from this experience to an empty campsite, with no one to share it with.

What’s going on in your head makes all the difference – and sometimes it takes serious game play to get pumped up enough to make something that’s less than ideal or uncomfortable happen. I was so bleh about that run until I realized I’d be the first one to ever run the Redbud 1/2 Marathon! If it takes you getting a game going in your head to fire up the excited energy, then so be it!

If you’ve never seen motorcross in person, check this out. You think those guys get out on those bikes & don’t first spend some time in their heads getting charged up, prepared, mentally committed to what is going to happen? If you don’t fully commit to what you’re doing right now or what you’re going to be doing later, you end up doing nothing really great at all. So rev your mind up & get going on doing great things. It won’t matter if you come home to an empty campsite if you fully committed to what you were doing.

Posted in: fitness, me!