Friday, August 5, 2011

Dusty Toes Half Marathon - July 31, 2011

One loop done!

The start - the girl on the left, #85, kicked my butt!

"Ok, follow me and try to keep up...oh yeah, I plan on winning this so, good luck!"  Miguel Galeana's inspirational speech
(just kidding!)

Dusty Toes Half Marathon is set in a trail system called Trail 360 in a rural community in Pierce County, Washington.  The trail was officially opened in the last couple of years and has grown in popularity amongst local runners.  Non-runners may not know the trail even exists as is a bit of a "secret garden" not visible from the main road with a non-descript sign that many people don't notice.

Saturday arrived and it was my youngest daughter's 3rd soccer game in a tournament that had started on Thursday.  I used their warmup time to hit the Green River Trail and got in a flat and hot 5 miles.  I've never run on this trail but the phrase, "Green River Killer" kept popping into my head, despite the beauty that surrounded me. 

The soccer game was a make or break deal and the only way for them to move on to the finals set for Sunday was to win the game and then wait and see the outcome of another game in her group.  They finished with a 2-2 tie which meant that Sunday was open for me to run Dusty Toes.  I stopped by Route 16 Running and Walking store in Gig Harbor on our way home and caught up with Kris Lange-Tebb, one of my Sole Sisters relay members, as I filled out my entry form. 

Race start was at 9:00 a.m. and since I live within 15 minutes of the trailhead, I had a leisurely morning to relax before the race.  The morning was mild and I decided on a tank and shorts, trail shoes and brought my Marathon Maniac lightweight jacket just in case I got chilled.  As I arrived at the trailhead about 8:30, I immediately felt my stomach drop as I didn't see any other cars.  There were no signs that I could see and I wondered if perhaps I'd not known about another entrance to the trail.  As I exited my car, a car slowed as it was driving by and told me there was more parking inside the park.  I walked to the entrance and it said "no motorized vehicles beyond this point." 

As I returned to my car and contemplated whether I should break the law another car entered the lot with a police escort.  Apprently he was lost and the officer had nothing else to do at the moment.  Both of us entered the forbidden zone and luckily we found other cars within the trail system.  After parking my car, I decided to leave my jacket  and headed toward the start area about a quarter mile away.  I saw Bill Barmore who had completed the 50 mile White River race the day before, along with Maniac newsletter guy, Steve Walters.  He provided the finisher's medals for Dusty Toes as well.

The race also had a relay that started at 8:15 and they were coming through the start area while we waited for 9:00.  A few runners straggled in at the last moment after having a hard time finding the park.  Miguel Galeana, owner of Route 16, started the race and led us through the loop one time.  Miguel actually ended up running the entire half marathon and perhaps unofficially won the race.

We began with a small loop to make up for some missing mileage and had 3 bigger loops of approximately 4.1 miles.  There were a handful of runners and from what I saw, only one woman was ahead of me throughout the race, though I still don't know that for sure.  Miguel assured us it was fairly flat with some rolling hills.  I love this guy!  He made it sound so FLAT.  As I ran up another "rolling" hill, I reminded myself to stop believing race directors.  I know they mean well.  I passed Steve Walters and another young runner near the end of the first loop and came to a split in the trail and decided to keep going straight.  I saw the police-escorted runner with his minimalist shoes up ahead and hoped this was correct.  The trail reconnected with the other trail and I was happy to see a cone and white arrows marked on the ground indicating I had taken the correct path.  As I approached the turn, the 2 guys I passed were coming from the other trail and were ahead of me!  Argh!  I made the decision to push ahead and pass them AGAIN! 

Coming through the start area, Jeff from Route 16 asked if I wanted water or Ultima.  Ultima!  It's fun to have your personal aid station volunteer.  Loop 2 was fairly uneventful and my legs were slowing a little on the uphills.  I was a little nervous when I heard a gunshot paralleling the trail border.  As I entered the aid station with another runner at my side, Bill Barmore asked, "How are you feeling?" and I shouted, "Awesome!" even though that may have been a partial lie.  My legs were a little toasty but the race was fun and I did feel awesome on the flats and down sections.  The day was humid and runners were soaked with sweat. 

The police escort guy had entered the aid station at the same time after I had finally reeled him in on the second loop.  We took off together and I was just in front of him and said, "I'll stay to the right so you can pass me anytime."  Ha!  He never did!  I was sure he'd get me on the uphills but he lost some spring in his step.

The last loop seemed to go by faster, perhaps because I knew what was coming.  I felt surprising good on this loop and finished strong with a 1:50 or 1:51 total time.  The overall woman's winner was leaving as I was running into the finish line.  I don't know what her time was but I do know she won a pair of shoes.

Miguel gave away a couple of random prizes from the bib numbers and I didn't win that, either.  I headed home with my medal and a muffin to go.  This race was small but I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would encourage other runners to look this race up next year.