This weekend was the Dirt Cheap Stage Race, three races over two days. It’s called Dirt Cheap because (a) its cheap to enter and (b) the trails are mucky, sometimes knee-deep. It’s a special race(s) because it’s tough and usually falls around the anniversary of me having a surprise cerebral hemorrhage. Nothing inspires more confidence that I’m not gonna have another bleed in my brain like running almost 18 miles over hilly terrain within 36 hours. I mean, if it’s gonna happen anytime, that would do it, right.
The afternoon race on the first day is the Devil’s Bathtub. The course description says 5.5 miles. Runkeeper says 4.6. Some people apparently got upset about this discrepancy one year. Those people are stupid. In the last mile, after trudging through mud, horseshit and rocks there’s a section where runners can go through a stream or over it. I went through. After all that, why would you balk at a little stream?
The last stage is a doozy: 11 miles of basically all the trails you’ve done the past two days, plus some more that they bring in special. I walked up the hills. I am not ashamed to say it.
The trick for me about this stage is, I always think I’ve going slow enough. And inevitably, a few miles from the finish, a runner I thought I had comfortably put in my rearview breezes past me. I’m not really competitive, but that is disheartening.
Trick is, when it was all done this year, I couldn’t put my anxiety aside. I survived, I made it through the whole course, but semi-panic was scrabbling around my brain, telling me I was going to collapse any moment. This happens sometimes: the thoughts get in and take over. I am an imaginative, introspective guy (I mean, I write this) and the downside of that is that sometimes my imagination runs away with me.
Luckily I had scheduled a massage for later on. I’ve been going to the same guy for years now, and it was just what I needed. The kinks got worked out, and the panic-monster was lulled into complacency. I felt calm afterwards, able to appreciate what I had accomplished.
I guess the point of all this is that this weekend I was forcefully reminded of how our bodies and minds are connected. Some people try to pretend that all that matters is the physical, and others think that if they could just be more spiritual, without physical demands, they’d be happier. The first makes you a MTV reality show character (which may sound good to some, but trust me, everyone’s waiting for you to lose it) and the second sets you up for serious disappointment. I pushed myself hard to complete the DCSR, but I needed to lie down to recover.