Monday, November 11, 2013

Dirt Cheap Stage Race report: Lingering in last place, running with the devil

Last weekend I participated in Fleet Feet Rochester's Dirt Cheap Stage Race, three races, two days, 19 miles. I took the races easy, with a combined time of 4:23:46.

Report on Stage 1.

Devil's Bathtub.
Stage #2: Devil's Bathtub

Stage #2 was a 5-mile (4.82 by my GPS) run around a landmark called Devil's Bathtub, a kettle hole. I finished in 1:08:43, and this involved a small but well-worth-it set back.

Allison had already given me one heart attack earlier that morning. As I snoozed in my car in our downtime, I had misread her texts and thought she was en route. I'm parked overlooking Devil's Bathtub at Mendon Ponds State Park. It's beautiful.

Several cars are parked next to me. We're all resting up.

The race starts at 1 p.m. Just before noon, I hear from a mildly panicked Allison. She's still tied up, hoping to break free soon, and still in Greece.

12:10 comes along. She's getting gas, she's coming!

12:15. I can't get ahold of her. I don't want to give up on her... but... I make a playlist. Just in case.

12:30. Ok, she forgot her ATM card, now she's really getting gas, she's finally coming. I GPS it, 40 minutes from Greece to Mendon.

"Step on it!" I tell her. "Drive like there's a pregnant woman in your backseat. Actually, no, drive like you're the pregnant woman! Traffic laws don't apply to you right now." (But do be safe.)

She curses the many grannies on Ridge Road.

"Allison, I don't know if you're going to make it."

"Oh I'm going to try!"

I love this girl.

But wait, isn't the race chip timed? I go up to a race official. "If we start ten minutes late, is it a big deal?" Yea, he said, it kind of is. "We pick up the flags after the last person."

So I hatch a brilliant scheme.

With Allison zooming down Clover Street, the race starts. I trot along at the back of the pack, Allison on the line. "Keep coming. I'll be that last person, and I'll go slow and speedy you can catch up."

(Another thing the old me would have hated.)

So I shuffle along, chatting on the phone as Allison is pulling in, trying to keep the person ahead of me in sight, but stay ahead of the guy coming up behind me, picking up the flag. I can just feel him looking at me. "Are you really being that person barely running and talking on her phone in a trail race?"


After seven minutes, I'm a half-mile in and Allison is at the start. They don't know if she can find me, the trail was curvy and relatively easy to follow up until this point, but now we're in the woods. Dilemma. "Wait, I can see a mile marker from here, I'll just wait for you there!" Allison said.


"The guy here is probably thinking 'Are you really being that person jumping in mid race.' I should probably explain," she said.

Whatever. But wait! I'm in last place. I don't like being in last place! I step on the proverbial gas, pass a few people, and then there's a grinning Allison, standing with a volunteer one mile in. "We did it!" We're both laughing hysterically.

Me and Allison. We found each other!
The course is challenging, but easier than the first. The scenery is breathtaking. Allison, full of adrenaline from rushing to the race, keeps pulling ahead. I'm exhausted from the morning, and trying to keep Sunday's 11-miler in mind. We eventually find a rhythm.

Staircase to the finish. 
Allison and I, along with Tara, my Wine Glass buddy, Kim and Nupur all met on Facebook knowing two things about each other: We ran at about the same pace, and we all had fall marathons. We got to know each other in an online Facebook chat, conversations often drifting away from running.

This is just the third time Allison and I have gotten together. We ran once, before she did the Rochester Marathon and I met her at the finish line of her race. But in this new world order, we know each other well.

We caught up as we followed the flags, twisting and turning through the woods, then attacked the staircase to the finish.

"Great teamwork ladies" Ellen says as we cross.

I eat more than one hot dog, and we part ways.

I get home, stumble around the block with the dogs, then collapse to the tune of Arrested Development on Netflix.

I wake up hacking. This always happens to me, I cough excessively after the first cold-weather run of the year. I took some Sudafed, rested the rest of the evening, and woke up Sunday well-rested for Stage #3.

I don't know how Allison does all that she does. She worked all night, and has two children.

Part 3 will post at 9 a.m. Tuesday.


  1. I'm so jealous! I really want to get into trail running, but I'm such a coward. I need to find someone to run with, maybe that would help. =)

  2. Glad to see you got your DCSR hoodie. I hope your new home in Albany has as good a running community as Rochester does. Best wishes!