This year, I signed up for Run with Scissors on a whim. My fall race schedule had been filling up, so I decided to just have a fun day and run whatever pace felt good.
Leigh and I drove up from Columbus early Sunday morning. After Roy’s race instructions (enjoy yourself and DO NOT LITTER), we lined up in the brisk foggy weather for the start. I took the first section slow so as not to risk a fall in the dark and ended up running with David Peterman most of the way to Pine Hollow. There was only a bit of cold mud in the meadows and we joked that we might be found later in the race icing our sore ankles and feet in these spots. We both breezed through the aid station at Pine Hollow and made our way toward Quick Road. Mike Nicholson, who was out in front, had taken a wrong turn at Quick Road and we did the same. The three of us ran up and down the road for a bit until we all realized (seeing some headlamps through the woods) that we were just supposed to go straight across to pick up the trail. The trails were getting sloppy through this next section so I decided not to push it too hard at this point, knowing that we would hit this mud three more times and it would only get worse as more runners came through.
I decided to get some solid food at Covered Bridge as my stomach had been queasy all morning and I thought that might help settle things. I looked forward to a good mix of walking and running through the next section and got some bonus stream crossings thrown in as well.
The section back from Covered Bridge back to the Pine Hollow aid station was filled with mixed emotions. I enjoyed seeing more faces on the trail and eventually ran into the lead marathoners as I neared the aid station. I mumbled a quick hello to Vince Rucci who was leading the men and Beth Woodward who was out in front of the women. As I neared Pine Hollow, I had all but made up in my mind that I was going to call it a day after one loop. I was tired, my legs had not recovered well from a previous race and my stomach was just not settling. I asked my wife if she would meet me at the turnaround (not telling her that I was thinking of dropping). I grabbed some grilled cheese sandwiches hoping they would at least get me through the next couple of miles. I saw Roy coming up one of the sound of music hills and he mentioned to me that I only had about a mile and a half back to the turnaround. This was good news! As I got close to the shelter, I saw the first and second place runners heading out for their second loop. I still was not feeling very good at the turnaround, but I told myself that when things are bad, there is always the chance that they can get better. I was hurried out of the aid station and back onto the second loop (I guess I would not be stopping here after all).
Eventually, I caught up with Scooby (in second at this point) who was suffering from some foot pain and trying to walk it off. I walked with him for a few minutes until we eventually parted ways. As I made my way back to Pine Hollow, the endorphins must have started firing as I miraculously began to enjoy running again. The weather was perfect, the fall colors were vibrant and it was a great day to spend some time in the woods. I took another S!Cap thinking it was about time for some more electrolytes and picked up the pace. My feet were still numb, but the sun was warming everything else up. Reaching Pine Hollow, I heard that the leader (Mike Nicholson) was just a minute or two ahead, so I made it my goal to catch him on this next section. A couple of miles in, I suddenly felt queasy again and stopped for a quick upchuck – too much salt – yuck! I felt better immediately, though, and kept moving.
Eventually, I caught up to Mike and asked how he was feeling. His response was, not great, but hey, we were 35 miles in, so that’s to be expected. From that point, I ran up the hills as hard as I could on the way to Covered Bridge, but eventually lost steam as I had burned through all the calories I put in earlier. I saw Mike again as I was heading out from Covered Bridge which was a good reminder to keep moving. Perkins Loop (the section after Covered Bridge) was a nice mix of running and walking the hills. Reaching Covered Bridge again, I stocked back up on calories as I was really dreading slogging through the mud this one final time. I knew it was going to be a long haul back to Pine Hollow, so I prepared mentally for what was to come. As I splashed through the mud and muck on the trail, a healthy fear of being passed at this point in race kept nagging in my head, driving me to keep running even though I felt like just walking it in. Nearing Pine Hollow, I decided not to stop for a refill of anything and just hammer out the last couple of miles to the finish. Well, two miles was a lot longer than I had pictured in my head, so I fought to keep moving as I knew each step brought me closer to the end. As the finish line came in to sight, I felt an overwhelming sense of joy knowing that I had run my best for the day and that there was a chair with my name on it to rest these tired mud-ladened legs.