A Skunk Run Write-Up by Rae Hedlund
We all started our running journeys somewhere, whether it was in school on the track or later in life; for a health-related reason, or just for fun; to lose something or to gain something. These journeys have as many uphills and downhills just as the runs we set out to conquer. The thing is, running can stop here. Running can become a habit that we enjoy, something social to add to our days that also improves our lives. And that’s wonderful!
Running can stop here, or it can become something more. It can become your passion, the fire that pushes you to do more. It can become the thing that makes you dig deep and discover not only what your body can accomplish, but also what your mind and spirit can endure. You’ll find yourself asking, What’s next? What more can I do? The word “can’t” will fade from your dictionary.
A while back, I wrote my marathon race report that went something like, “That was really f*ing hard!” I am still proud of that accomplishment, but I need to be honest and say that I spent some time afterward doubting my abilities. I hadn’t gotten the time I’d hoped for, had bonked for more miles that I expected, and wasn’t sure if I’d ever run another. Trail running clicked with me through this doubt, and though I was still unsure about certain aspects of running, I knew I still loved the sport.
When the Skunk Run (hosted by the wonderful Idiot’s Running Club) was brought up, I was in! Eight hours to run as much (or as little) as I wanted sounded great! Little did we know, the running conditions would be unexpectedly... damp.
|Stacey at one of the numerous creek crossings... okay, okay, skunk & alligator NOT included!|
Okay, it was pretty saturated. But you know what? It was incredible! The atmosphere was more that of a party where people also happened to run: there was a massive “aid station” complete with a delicious array of sweet and savory options, a fire pit, and tons of fun people to hang out with and cheer for.
|Oh, it was a beautiful sight to behold!|
After the national anthem was sung by a very talented young lady, the word “GO!” was yelled and people got on their way. My goal for the day was anywhere from 16-20 miles, just because I didn’t know what the trail conditions would be like, or what terrain to expect. Those first 11 miles were tough, and I was ravenous when we got back from the challenging climbs, fast-moving creek crossings, and rocky, muddy downhills.
|Focus, determination, HUNGER.|
Arriving back at “base” after the first loop, Stacey and I took a little time to get drinks and some food. Oddly enough, I felt a little concern about grabbing food and heading back out; though I knew I wanted more miles, I didn’t know what food would sit best in my stomach. Some peanut butter sandwiches called my name, though, so I scarfed down half a sandwich and an orange slice. We headed back out to brave another long, laborious loop. We weren’t too far in before I had a little grunting and complaining to do. Stacey reminded me that we had about five hours to do this loop- in her words, “We could sit and have a freaking picnic if we want!” We had all the time in the world! Later on, she reminded me that none of the DRCers attending had specifically trained for this run; we were just out here, logging major miles, un-tapered, after our regular week of running (which included a six-mile hill workout for some)! With that thought, my level of awe went up and my complaining went down. I was humbled by this thought, but also floored—completely ecstatic!—about our abilities as runners!
During the second loop, Stacey pointed out we would be at 23 miles, and that just didn’t seem right. 26.2, right? But why not 27, to get me my first “ultra”?! We had time, right? Yes, we did! I wasn’t sure, and took my time thinking about it until we got back to base. At this time, I informed Stacey that we “might as well” head back out to get those last few miles! She was so excited and I was, too! A little ways into this, she realized I was in for 27, and then we were more excited!
Running into Andrea and Mackenzie was a special gift as we headed into this last part of our endeavor. There was some screaming and excitement before we took our selfie and continued on our way.
|Running into each other gave new life to tired legs!|
We kept hoping we’d run into Meghan as well, but didn’t know where she was at on the course, or in her mileage. To our pleasant surprise (after coming across one woman we thought was Meghan but wasn’t), we found her! We didn’t stay with her for long, but she had PR’d her 50k time- what awesome news! We told her I was getting my first ultra-distance, got all psyched up again, and we continued on our way. Hitting our distance we needed to turn around and head back, we enjoyed the sound of some peeper frogs as we took another pic...
And the my watch died! It was incredible that it waited until we were on our way back before it died, so we knew we would get those 27 glorious, well-earned miles! It felt like we were flying on the way back (mostly because it was more downhill than up), and we made it to base feeling way better than I would have ever expected! It was done! I received my medal and began happily stuffing my face.
|Finished! Stacey was incredible, her kind encouragement and foul mouth kept me going! Ha!|
|I received my medal and was dubbed an Idiot-- hooray!|
Stacey, however, had more in her! She headed out for a mile with Mackenzie, who ended up with a whopping 22 miles, and then back out again with Meghan! Stacey finished out with 29 incredible miles, Meghan with a whopping 38.33 for the course record! All the while, Frank was patiently running his own loop to get his longest distance of 32 miles. Dan, who had run with Stacey and I for a while, crushed his distance PR of 11, getting a whole 23 miles! Kristin went in for 12 and ended up with an amazing 16! Andrea, who snuck in and ran with Mackenzie, got 16 in the 4.5 hours she was with us!
These numbers are huge accomplishments for everyone, and I really believe that there is something in the DRC “water” that lends itself to an encouraging, uplifting environment that helps us all to push past what our perceived boundaries are. On Saturday, March 14, eight members of DRC lost the word “can’t”, at least for a day, and thought, “What more can I do?” Running became something more; it became what we did for the day, what we loved doing in the company of others or on our own, reveling in the beauty of nature and a community of runners kinder and more energetic than anyone could ever ask for.