Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dances with Dirt, Green Swamp Florida 2012

Green Swamp, March 24th: This day marked the beginning of the Dances with Dirt series, a 50k in Green Swamp which is located in Dade City, FL. This year Jodie, Jose and I are going after the buckle, so we have to complete the rest of the series that we haven’t done yet. You have 2 years to do all 4…yes the buckle is totally worth it, why would you even ask? Jodie and I drove the 23 hours or so down to Orlando, picked up Jose who was there for a trade show, and headed over for packet pickup. We are then informed that packet pickup was the day before…so really we only missed it by a day. This led to conversations where we had to defend why we would drive 23 hours for a race in the swamp anyways… some people just don’t get it, lol. It was good to see palm trees…
That night it stayed in the 60’s. We stayed at a Microtel Inn in Zephyrhills. Decent place, plus you got a discount if you were doing the race-bonus! Also located within 15 minutes of the start-nice. Saturday morning we got up early, watched the weather and dressed as best as we could for the predicted near 90 degree day. Adrenaline was kickin’ in (maybe it was the coffee? Probably both) and headed out to the race for packet pickup. It was dark as we navigated our way there, and as you were able to begin to make out shapes the Spanish moss in the trees gave the surrounding woods an eerie look, very cool. As we got our packets we saw the 50milers coming in out of the woods (they started at 5:30) in a line of headlamps…always a nice sight. And yes, I was a little jealous they were already in there…it was like they got to the presents first on Christmas! Not one of them complained of bugs, which was a relief! Something I had not given much thought to until Jodie brought it up. Right around 6:30 the other runners started showing up. The 50k and marathon started at the same time, 7 bells. The Head Goat gave his speech (nice and short- pink first then follow blue) while taking a call (“anyone lost yet?”) and we were off!
I was excited to get into those woods- once I was in there, it was nice and cool, and there was quite a bit of fog everywhere. I couldn’t help but keep staring at the all the palm trees! Lol It was really dry for this time of year down there, so the trails were perfect. Lots of little leaves on the ground, and palm-like vegetation all over, and super green! Huge cypress trees with the Spanish moss hanging all over them…the surroundings were so different than the woods I am used to running in here in the Midwest that I couldn’t help but start taking pictures. I wrestled with this thought prerace- on whether I should take my little camera or not, and I was glad I did. I just kept stepping off to the side to snap pics whenever I saw something I thought looked cool. One guy thought I was plotting GPS points (um-what?)After about 20 minutes of run-stop-shoot-run-stop-shoot I had already missed a turn (along with about 12 people I was following) and luckily someone ahead caught it after about a quarter mile since I had no idea! Time to start paying some more attention! So the pictures got put on hold and I decided I’d better start running. It was easy to run at a good clip, the course is pretty flat and in the woods the trails were nice and firm. Outside of the woods there were these prairie type areas where the footing turned to mostly sand, tough going in that stuff. Hard on the ankles! This race had a mix of sand, wooded trails, crushed shell roads, and a small road section. Very scenic, and the aid stations were pretty decent. Once you got over how much everything looked like scenes from Jurassic Park the race was like any other, go out too fast and hold on. Most of the first half I was averaging a 9:30 pace,  then started hurting around 19 or so and things slowed down.  Once it hit 10 it was pretty warm outside, and in those open prairies it was nothing but free sweat. Only one stream crossing, which was still fun to splash through! For the end you come into the finish at 26.2 and then the 50k runners head out for the last 5. This loop was tough, ankles were pretty beat up and hurting from the sand, and I was just ready to be done! Saw a deer fly across the trail, almost stepped on a 4 ft black snake (talk about hitting the brakes) and plenty of little lizards. Coming through the woods I finally heard music- thought “the end already? Sweet!” But it turned out to be 3 old guys playing bluegrass in a park type shelter on a picnic bench. I wanted to stop and listen but the need to be done pushed me on, so later fellas…
I came across a tower that looked so much like our LP tower that first time around I was bummed I didn’t get a pic-then we did the loop again at the finish I was thrilled to see it again and I was able to get a shot of it! I was glad to see Jose and Jodie at the finish, they both ran a terrific race! Coming in together at the end for at time of 5:22! Good enough for Jodie to take first in her age group and 4th woman,( and a PR by 1 minute I believe) and Jose took first in his age group (which is the same one I am in dammit) and 7th overall male. I came in at 5:43 which still earned me a 3rd age group award and a spot at 11 overall male (originally this was posted as 9th, guess there were some errors in paperwork at the race). So I originally thought we all posted in the top 10 overall but I was mistaken.  Jose made it in overall at 10th, Jodie took 11th, and I managed to hang on for 17th. If I were to run this one again I would definitely train differently, and treat it as a marathon type race. This is a FAST race. If you are looking for a change of scenery and a PR, this is a race worth checking out! Sadly I saw no alligators, and the only armadillos were 2 dead ones on the side of the road. Ah well, the palm trees were cool.
More race pics here:

No comments:

Post a Comment