dances with dirt

February 17, 2010 at 1:43 pm 3 comments

dances with dirt 50-mile trail relay, feb. 13, 2010
team “we clean between our legs … that’s race legs you pervert”


this past saturday a few friends and i ran dances with dirt, a 50-mile trail relay through the woods and swamps of dade city florida. thanks to the excessive amount of rain we had friday night the race fully lived up to its name! i’ll admit i was a little hesitant to do this race at first. maybe it was because the waiver included something about “risk of death” and “the potential of alligators on course”. but really it didn’t take long for me to be convinced. since i can come across as being totally girlie, people are often surprised to learn that not only am i partial to trail running but i’ve been known to go out of my way to step in a mud puddle rather than run around it. there’s just something i like about getting down and dirty in the woods!

we hit the road early saturday morning and made our way to the middle of nowhere. i have absolutely no idea where the heck we were but i swear i could hear banjos playing in the distance. we geared up the van, bundled up to brave the unseasonably cold 40 degree weather and scanned over course maps one last time before the team ~ j-man, gaff, wally, tri-guy and yours truly ~ made our way to the start to set off on our crazy adventure!

tri-guy was our first runner out. true to his “name” he’s a triathlete and had never done a run-only event and he certainly had never dared step off road to a trail. i admit that i was a little nervous about running in the woods alone but he seemed even more on edge than me. pretty humorous given he’s a 6’5″, brick house whose career choice includes carrying a gun and slumming with common criminals. but apparently he has a pretty large fear of spiders so of course we figured it would be fun to send him out first and clear the webs ~ yes we are evil 🙂 . lucky for him the rain and cold ~ or maybe it was the lead runners ~ did most of the work and he ran a strong leg in spite of the calf strain he managed somewhere along the way.

leg two ~ a nice 4.6 miles ~ was all mine. things started off simple enough. it was cold and i was a bit nervous heading into the woods without any other runners visible but it didn’t take long for me to get lost in my love of the trail. every so often i’d pass an ultra-runner and i admit i got passed by a couple other relay runners. but i was holding a pretty decent pace for trials and was happy with it. at mile four i knew i only had another half mile and started to kick up the pace. it wasn’t soon after that i faced the first puddle. a quick assessment and i dashed into the trees, hit a makeshift trail and cleared the hurdle without so much as a speck of dirt on me. i wasn’t worried about the mud so much, but somehow the thought of traipsing through freezing cold water didn’t seem too smart of an idea. but it wasn’t long before i had no choice. the course became one big puddle and there was no avoiding going in. i was knee deep in water when my garmin beeped a familiar mile marker sound. what? mile 5? was i lost? ribbon markers were clear and i wasn’t alone so i knew i was still on course but my 4.6 mile leg seemed to be running a little long. for almost a mile and a half dry land was the exception. when i finally reached the transition point at mile 6.3 ~ a last minute course change due to the rain (thanks for sharing) ~ i was drenched and covered in mud from the knees down. it was awesome!

wally was next out for a big loop back to transition point two. and as much as i wanted to stay on course and cheer him in and see gaff off, i couldn’t feel my toes and knew i needed to get out of my soaking wet socks and shoes. the walk back to the van was about half a mile and once inside i snuggled into my warm injinji toe socks and flip flops and buried myself under a sleeping bag and wally’s snuggie. after that i couldn’t bring myself to brave the cold again and go back on course so there i waited until the guys arrived.

it was a bit of a drive to transition point three but we got there with plenty of time to spare. running a relay you’ve got to familiarize yourself with your team mate’s paces so you can anticipate when one runner is coming in and the next has to go out. all of us ~ except tri-guy ~ run together regularly so we thought we had a pretty good idea when gaff would be in. we lollygagged around the parking lot chatting with other teams, trying to stay warm and our time started to seemingly run a little long. now, gaff has a history of getting lost on trails. he once ran for an extra hour and a half after getting ahead of the group on a trial training run and taking a wrong turn. and that was after already doing 13 miles in warm temps with no water. we had just called 911 when he came jogging down the trail like there was no worry in the world. so needless to say we were a little concerned he might have been running a repeat. the positive ~ if you can call it that ~ was that it wasn’t just gaff who seemed to be MIA … no runners were coming in. eventually we saw him coming down a stretch of field and j-man readied himself (which for him meant the insanity of stripping down to just shorts. no shirt. in 45 degree weather!) sure enough we came to find out gaff, and just about all the other runners on that leg, had gotten lost. what appeared to be utility flags the same color as the trail markers had caused a little snafu and sent them down a wrong turn. thankfully it only took about 10 minutes for him to turn around this time!

the next transition point was a short walk from the parking lot so in time tri-guy and i walked down to ready him for j-man’s impending arrival. while standing around we overheard another runner, just in, talking about the shirtless guy who seemed to be lost going the entirely wrong direction. assuming that no other runner was insane enough to be running half naked we started to worry but it wasn’t long before we saw him heading in … BUT from the wrong direction. turns out he ran the loop he was supposed to … he just ran it backwards. it did cross his mind that something was amiss when every runner he passed was going in the opposite direction but thankfully he was smart enough to stand his course and simply keep going. he was also quite proud to share that he had run through water up to his “weebles” (aka kahunas).

a little hesitant on his calf but more confident in running trails, tri-guy set out for his second leg. with the fear of spiders long behind him he seemed a lot braver heading into the woods but this leg proved to be anything but uneventful for him. first about half way through, he nearly stepped on a water moccasin. thankfully somehow before his foot came down he registered its presence and managed to step over rather than on it. he was a little rattled but had just managed to get his senses back when he heard a gunshot. now hearing a gunshot is typically a nerve wracking experience but imagine you’re all alone, running through the woods, wearing all black (note this is why i wore pink!) he kept running ~ probably a little faster than he had been before ~ when out of nowhere come billy-bob and bubba (i apologize if anyone reading this is actually named billy-bob or bubba and by no means aim to suggest that your names connote total redneck hillbilly but come on now … they really kind of  do). anyway, these guys come out of the woods, rifles slung over their shoulders, pulling behind them one very large dead hog. curse us for not sending our runners out on course with cameras! next year for sure.

the next few legs were relatively uneventful. gaff maintained, and didn’t get lost, on leg seven. j-man closed a pretty substantial gap and took us from running in 5th place to 4th on leg eight. then on leg nine, wally got “chicked” (passed by a girl) and lost our hold on 4th place. leg 10 was back to me and barring any unforeseen circumstances, we pretty much knew we had 5th. there was no way we’d catch the number four team unless i could suddenly sustain seven-minute miles (i wish) and we had a big enough lead over team six. compared to my first, it was an easy run. hills and sand made for a little challenge and i almost went off course once when i started to follow hiker marks on the trees versus the course ribbons. but a quick back step and a push to the end took us across the finish with a clock time of 7:07:25.

after we finished we had time to kill before the awards ceremony. thankfully we came prepared.

there was also a big pork BBQ and we couldn’t help but wonder if the catering was being done by billy-bob and bubba ~ squeal like a pig!

after all was said and done we took 5th place by clock-time but after handicaps were figured in we were knocked down to 6th. next time we know to stack our team with a really-fast, really-old chick! we also got an honorable mention in team theme and the race guy did say they loved our name but considering i’d only come up with it a week or so before the race, we simply didn’t have time to decorate the van enough or figure out attire to play it up more. but we’ll be back next year to clean between our legs, tempt death and dance with the dirt.



Entry filed under: fear, running. Tags: , , , , , , .

to date or not to date what’s a little 26.2 mile run?

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Snuggie Pattern Cultist  |  February 17, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Sounds like quite the adventure. Running can be exciting!

  • 2. bgirl875  |  February 19, 2010 at 1:57 am

    Sounds like you had a good fun race and well deserved after race drink =P

    Congrats, 6th is awesome! And good for you representing in the all testosterone team and for not coming face to face with any alligators.

  • 3. return to the swamp « becelisa  |  February 14, 2011 at 11:56 am

    […] four friends and i ran dances with dirt ~ a 50-mile relay through the swamps of dade city florida. i ran this race last year and had a blast and this year proved no different. water. mud. woods … all the things that […]


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the best of times

5k pr ~ 24:23
10k pr ~ 52:49
half marathon pr ~ 1:55:10
marathon pr ~ 4:10:41
half ironman pr ~ 5:57:50
50k pr ~ 5:33:23
50-mile pr ~ 11:32:39



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