Ran the Hawk 100 Marathon over the weekend. Well actually not over the weekend. Saturday morning to be precise. Why isn't 'preciser' a word meaning more precise? It makes sense... at least in my mind.
The weather was beautiful. The trails were as punishing as ever. The hills were brief and brutal (except for the Bunker Hill loop 13-15 miles in, where we had to run up one side in ankle deep grass, go down the other, run through flat grassland, and then up the backside of the hill and back down - great tough feature for the middle of the marathon. It gave a beautiful view of Clinton Lake, where we had come from, and how far we still had to go.
A quick aside here: I have volunteered at the race for the past two years. Since there are 50 and 100 mile races happening at the same time, the marathon is really just the little brother of the three events. The aid stations and volunteers are what can make or wreck a race. The Hawk 100 always has stunningly good, efficient, friendly, and well-stocked aid stations. I have never seen better.
Anyway, I felt pretty good through the first 21 or so miles. I have hit 'the wall' before, so I recognized the signs of its onset and mentally prepared for a challenging 5 miles to the finish. I used my 'thankful' practice; a way of approaching sports challenges that I learned from an Everest summit documentary. I mentally become thankful that there are rocks, hills, roots, descents, streams, sand, etc... Each challenge I face is something for which I am thankful, because it will make the completion of the run more meaningful.
As I ran the last few miles, I actually began to laugh, because I was starting to be thankful for every rock and minor root that I passed over. The gratitude I was expressing to nature simply seemed excessive. But it took my mind off of the fact that I was having some pretty real physiological issues with shoulder cramps (odd) and a bit if a chill that came on from unexpected dehydration.
Still, though, when all was said and done, it was a great experience. I almost never run races (and had only signed up for this marathon on the Tuesday evening, 4 days before the event). One of my friends who was also running the race seemed shocked to find me at the start on Saturday. Frankly, I was a little surprised myself.
Over the past couple of days, I've gotten some congratulatory emails from friends who mention that it is good that I officially have a completed marathon behind me. I have run the distance on other occasions for fun, but never for anything as externally notable as an actual race. I will state that it does feel pretty good. I will very likely be running the Hawk 100 Marathon again next year. And, I may add one more to my schedule - a 50K in Texas in 2014. Otherwise, while fun, racing really isn't my 'thing.' Running is.
A quick shout out to all of my fellow Lawrence TrailHawk friends. Thank you for running with me on various fun runs throughout the year. And thank you to those Hawks who didn't run so that they could help make the event so successful - I know how much you do, and I appreciate it immensely.