Hey Daintycakes, you bum, maybe you should finish writing about the Ham Run!
Yeah, sure, ok. When we last left off, I was getting ready for a big race! Race morning conditions were cool, a little cloudy, and kind of damp. The cool and cloudy part I don’t mind, but the damp part made for a somewhat clammy start. Also, the race started about 15 minutes after it was supposed to, so that makes for a bit of restlessness that no one wants when they start a two hour anything.
We all line up to prep for the start of the race. The first ½ marathon I did was the Get Lucky in St Paul, and there were something like 2600 people in that race. For the Ham Run, there were about 140. The scale and feel were much smaller and less nerve-rattling and there was a more comfortable amount of room for everyone before the race started. Of course, then the race started, without any kind of countdown or anything, so off we went!
The first mile or so of this race was on gravel roads and was, painfully, mostly uphill. Since I do a fair amount of hill training, it wasn’t so bad, but man, it does not make for a fast start.
As I mentioned, the Get Lucky was about 1857% larger than the Ham Run. Additionally, the Get Lucky course was a down-and-back, meaning that if you were maybe middle-pack running (I was a little slower than middle pack) you could see the really fast runners after they’d turned around at the half way mark. The race already felt like you were there with a big crowd, which was cool and made for some really good motivation, and you could cheer the frontrunners as they went past you. The Ham Run was a straight shot. And with only 140 people to start, runners spread out fairly quickly. I suspect that between miles 3 and 10, I had about ¼ mile on either side of me that was totally empty. Combine that with that whole area of Minnesota looking like a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and this was the most visually boring thing you can imagine.
Keep in mind, I’m not a fast runner. I spent roughly an hour and a half looking at nothing but rocks. Sure, I had my podcasts with me, but really, NOTHING to look at at all.
At about mile 11, it started to drizzle, which I don’t really mind so much when I’m running. However, it was already kind of clammy to start with. So, while I was running, I wasn’t cold really, just wet. Very wet. Just as I was finishing it started to really really rain.
If you’ve run in the rain before, you know it feels awesome right up until the moment you stop running. I crossed the line, caught my breath for a few minutes, and then became freezing cold. Beefcake had the presence of mind to bring me a towel and a dry shirt, so we made our way over to the very crowded tent to dry off and get some ham. HAM! This ham was the entire reason I entered this race!
If you’ve ever done something super exhausting, like run a race or build a fireplace or maybe fight a shark, you know that whatever you eat immediately afterwards is THE BEST THING EVER. I’m not sure why, but everything I eat after doing a distance run also tastes sweeter, which is just fine with me.
Beefcake and I ate a bounty of ham and fixins’ and went to take a nap. After, we decided to go down to a hiking trail we’d seen nearby and hike that trail. We found a couple of suitable hiking sticks and started working our way down the trail. I think we probably went about ½ mile before turning around, but this was for real “climbing and moving fallen trees” hiking.
We also went to go see some rapid that the proprietor of Way of the Wilderness told us about near one of the campsites. They were pretty, but we weren’t able to see any fish spawning.
We spent the remainder of the evening in our bunkhouse eating noodle bowls, playing Pandemic and listening to the Nerdist podcast. Monday morning, we got up, packed up and started our drive back home, and ran smack into the thickest fog I’ve ever had the terror of driving through.
Guys, this is in the middle of the woods. Winding roads, without distinguishable markers, no street lights, nothing. It was scary. We took it slow, and finally made it out into clearer weather. By the time we reached Duluth, it was a beautiful, perfect day for the rest of our drive. The end!