DTR Full Moon 10 Mile Night Trail Run

Race Recap:
THIS is an excellent event. Of course, I am head over heels in love with trail running.

The DTR Full Moon Endurance Challenge is a 10 mile trail run that begins at 8pm. The race was held at Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound, Florida.

Registration, Packet Pick-up:
Registration for the race is quite pricey. At $70.00, this is more than I would typically pay for a half marathon. But the race is unlike any other here in South Florida, so I was willing to pay for the unique experience. The race has a very limited number of spots and sells out, so don't wait until the last minute to grab your entry. Packet pick-up was offered a few days before the race but also on race day. I arrived around 6:30pm, and although I had to wait a little while to pay for park entrance, there was no wait to get my packet, which included my bib, a gender specific t-shirt and a cool decal for my car.

Race Start:
The race was delayed by 20 minutes to accommodate the number of cars coming into the park and the one park ranger who was collecting the park entry fee. Other than the fact that this would mean I wouldn't get home to bed until later, I didn't mind. There was a DJ mixing some music and rallying the crowd around 2 events-- a plank off and a push-up contest. A young teen played the National Anthem on his electric guitar, and we paused for a moment of silence to remember the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.

The Course:
The state park's website boasts of sand pine scrub, pine flatwoods, mangroves, and river swamps. I needed my headlamp right away. Due to the full blown thunderstorm an hour before the race, clouds lingered,  blocking the moon. The course was really well marked. For the section that passed through the mangroves, there were lights placed on the large roots that could be hazardous. I preferred staying pretty close behind fellow runners, so that I could use both their head lamps and mine to light the path and help guide my footing to drier places on the trail. The trail was quite wet and underwater in many sections. There were 2 or 3 aid stations, but the race organizers recommended that runners bring their own water, which I did.

The Finish:
Runners were awarded a really cool wood cutout medal. There was plenty of water, soda, champagne and beer. Mini Clif bars and bananas, as well as burritos (in THREE options-- chicken, beef and veggie) were available at the finish line. Many people lingered, chatting, eating, drinking and enjoying the music.

My Race:
*Caution: brutal, ugly honest ahead.
Considering I haven't been doing any speedwork or real distance, I had an excellent race. I can't remember feeling so good in a race. I think it was a variety of factors-- the darkness, the trail, the lack of listening to music, the loss I'm still processing... I know it's probably not right or healthy, but it's just feeling really good to suffer right now.

Three thoughts circulated through my mind and fueled my body:

  • “The best pace is a suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die." I went out fast (for me). I fell into a pack, picked a girl and tried to stay with her. I focused on staying relaxed, keeping my eyes on the ground, and pushing my pace. At the 2 mile mark, I was just over 18 minutes-- not a record breaking pace by any means, but given what I've been running lately, the dark, and the sloppy trail, I was happy. Happier still when I was able to pass my girl, find another one, pass her and continue to run strong. The quote I held in my mind and massaged like a worry stone is attributed to Steve Prefontaine. However, it appears that he may never have said it. I'm a little sad I know that now, but regardless, it embodies the attitude Pre had when racing. And it worked for me. I ran recklessly and hard. And twice I found myself suddenly sprawled face down on the trail-- it's quite shocking to be running fast one second and lying still in the dirt the next thanks to some nearly hidden root. Both times I was able to quickly recover by burpee-ing back up to running again. 
  • My sister died 4 weeks ago today. I'm still mourning. And it hits at absolutely unforeseeable times. There are times when I feel compelled to tell the person next to me that my sister is dead, and I'm sad, and life will never be the same. But I don't. I just wonder if they have a sister and how long it's been since they've talked to her, hugged her, told her they love her. When my legs were heavy I just pushed ahead because my sister couldn't push through her struggle with depression and addiction, and what's a little 10 mile run compared to the pain of losing a piece of your life? 
  • My friend Cindy is supposed to be here with me tonight, but her Mom died this morning so I have to run for both of us. Cindy has been the best daughter ever, so I know her mom was an incredible woman as well. Pampering and loving her mom that was slipping slowly into the demented arms of dementia, Cindy fought with her mom against the disease. And that's just it. Life is hard. Life is full of pain. Life is also beautiful and full of joy. I ran because I love to run. Being out on the trail brings me joy. Hearing the sounds of crickets and frogs and breath and feet splashing through mud brought me peace and healing. 
I finished the race strong, but spent-- and second place in my age group. I happily accepted my owl shaped "medal" and my giant burrito. (Apologies to anyone who saw me eating that steak burrito-- I was overcome with gratitude and hunger that comes from a race well-run.)


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