Friday, July 9, 2010

The Dipsea

My favorite running race of all time, the Dipsea, was about a month ago, and I’ve been so busy with work, travel, and … life, that I’m just now writing about it here.

Yes, I had been trying to rehab my hip/hamstring/back injury just enough to be able to run, really run, my favorite race.

And I was really very happy to be there, at the starting line, with minimal aches and pains. I was raring to go. (And I was ecstatic that friends of ours agreed to drive our little Sam from the starting line to the finish line, and that he didn’t cause too much trouble for them.)

What happened over the next 7.5 trail miles was both fun and extremely painful. I just didn’t have any gusto off the starting line. I ran those 676 stairs okay, walking up the steepest ones and trotting when I could. But I felt slow. On the downhills, the first, through Windy Gap, I had a blast. I charged and passed people, riding the line between just barely in, and totally out, of control.

All the downhills that day were equally as fun. I tore down Suicide, the steepest, roughest of descents about midway through the race, and charged down the Swoop, a rutty singletrack with falling into tall brush as your consequence. But on the uphills, and on the gradual downhills where you can really stride out, I just didn’t have it. I slogged through those portions, and it hurt.

My husband, who started five minutes behind me in the uniquely handicapped race, passed me about mile five. I’m pretty sure I said the F-word, followed by, “Oh, Mark!” followed by… “Go Mark!” And I meant the latter (and the prior). I wanted him to have a good race, even if I was having a bad one.

When I crossed the finish line, I about collapsed. But I also cried. I was in so much physical pain from the effort, but I was also pretty bummed I hadn’t had a good race. I finished much further back than I had in the past six times I’d run the race, and I guess I just hadn’t realized I was that far off where I’d been.

Then I got a big hug from Sam. “Mama,” he said, and reached for me from my friend’s arms. I had this overly sappy sentiment that no matter how slow I was, my son still loved me a whole lot.

Supportive friends and family members have since said things to me like, “You’re older now,” to which I say: “Phooey.” They’ve said, “You have a child now,” to which I say: “There are plenty of fast moms.” There’s the whole: “You’ve been injured” thing, which I can stomach—I have, and that one means there’s hope I can regain speed.

I am happy that I’ve been so busy being mom, working, going to physical therapy, traveling (more on that later), and running. As long as running is in the mix—even if it is slower than I’ve been, and like to be—I feel…like myself. And that’s good.


  1. Good job on finishing your race. I know you are disappointed with your time. i really do understand. I hope you gain a full recovery from your injuries. Two years ago I had to lay off running for 6 weeks due to a knee injury. (I now that is no comparison to what you have been through). I remember leaving the doctor's office after his prescription of no running, and only necessary walking for 6 weeks. I just sat in my car and cried and sobbed. I couldn't even see my phone to text my husband. I realize that you have gone through so much more, but I can somewhat identify with starting back running after my recovery. I wanted to be where I was before. It took some time.
    Now I am 40, and I think I may be getting slower. I was never really fast! And I have only been running for a little over 3 years.

    I have been reading your blog since you were pregnant with Sam. I enjoy reading about your running and your life as a mother. I also read your articles in some ladies' Running Magazine I get (can't remember the name).

    The smiles, hugs, kisses, and "Go Mamas" from our children are priceless! My younger children cheer me on when I run on the track while they are playing on the playground. Children are great motivators!

    Have a great day!

  2. I'm sorry the race didn't go exactly as you had planned. I had a nasty fall in a mud run earlier this spring that put me out of running for 6 weeks. Now that I'm getting back to it, well it's such a mental struggle to try and get back. So I get it. But you'll get there, you'll get it back and so will I.

    And I have to thank you for introducing me to the Dipsea...from the second one of my professors and I read the article in RW we've been scheming up a way to get in....