So, faithful readers, here is the race report you've all been waiting for with baited breath-the Dune Run Run. Seriously-that's what they call it for reasons that will become apparent as you read the report.
I'm up at 5 am, eat breakfast, a cuppa coffee, gear ready the night before-all good to go. Weather-perfect-foggy and cool. We get to the start line in plenty of time to pick up my bib number and greet a couple of friends. I had trouble figuring out where I should be to start-the walkers, 5k runners and 10k runners are all mushed together and starting at the same time. I find a spot I'm comfortable with just before the gun goes off and we head down the road. I'm really feeling strong for this race, so I keep an eye on my pace and hold it back just a tick-don't want to go out too fast!
We're only on the road about 1/8 mile before we turn to the boardwalk and that was very cool for running. That's about 1/8 mile or so, then on the beach for the best part, about 1 1/2 miles to the pier on hardpacked sand-awesome run! We turn around at the pier and head back down the beach and the 5k runners turn off. At this point I'm feeling really good, just very strong, and I even manage to reel in some runners (take that, Mr White Hat and Ms Pink Shirt!). So we continue down the beach and I'm doing pretty stinkin good with a steady pace around 10:10 or so. Then at about the 4 1/2 mile mark we turn off the beach and into the dunes. Here's where it gets tough. The dunes are very hilly and all soft sand for almost 2 1/2 miles. There's me and 3 other runners and we're all really working hard but making progress. I resort to walking up the hills and running down. This works pretty good except I have trouble keeping my balance in the uneven sand and barely avoided a couple of face plants, but I managed to remain upright and moving forward.
Through the dunes there were pink markers for the course. And the other 3 runners gain ground on me but I can still see them. Then all of a sudden-no markers and I can't see the other runners. I think I was so focused on not falling that I stopped watching for markers. I got a little scared that I was off course, finally found a marker, but it's green, the color they were using for the 5k. What happened? Did I somehow get off the 10k and onto the 5k course? About the time I'm thinking I should retrace my steps and figure out where I screwed up, I see the other runners. So I'm still on course-whew!
Finally I can hear the course workers cheering on my fellow runners and soon I pop out on the road. 1/2 mile to go through town. I'm thinking at this point that I'll be really happy if I finish in 1:30. A short run downtown (ooh-shoe sale! Stay focused, this is a race...) I finally turn the last corner and there's the finish line-and the clock says 1:15 and some change! I am elated! Stoked! Thrilled! I did not finish in the medals in my age group. I was one of the last runners to make it in. And I didn't care. This was the hardest, most challenging run I've done to date. It will definitely go on my list of runs to do every year. It's a little hard to see, but that pile of sand in the picture above is what poured out of my shoes!
This race really kicked my butt. I ran in on gas fumes; the tank was completely empty. But oh, what an amazing feeling to finish so well!