I ran the Snow Joke half marathon yesterday. My intention going into the race was just to run for fun, enjoy the scenery and not worry about time. Those plans sort of worked out, and sort of didn’t.
This was my first time running the Snow Joke, but I doubt very much it will be my last. The course is really lovely, the race itself is the least expensive half marathon I’ve ever heard of ($15 for the entrance fee and an optional $15 for a t-shirt). If you read through all the pages at the website, you’ll find some things that rub me the wrong way, but not enough to cause me to forgo the race.
I caught a ride to Seeley Lake with buddies from my running class and that was lovely. I hadn’t had much of a chance to chat with these ladies before so I was really happy for the opportunity to ride with them. We’d all heard stories about the long lines during registration so we left relatively early and got to town at a decent hour. It turns out that the organizers had made some changes this year so things went a bit more smoothly than we anticipated and the race started pretty much on time.
My buddies and I started off the first little bit of the race just jogging, to let all the faster people pass us, before setting our timers to 30/30 for run/walk/run. The front of the pack zoomed on down the road and the herd thinned out fairly quickly. As usual, once we started our timers, we began to play leap-frog with runners near us. We did gain on and pass a number of other runners, and even gained another running buddy for a while, in a gentleman who was having some trouble with his shins. He hung with us until the pain worked itself out, and then off he went.
On the up-slope of the biggest hill in the race (around mile 3) we leap-frogged for a while with a young man who was both tall and otherwise large. We were quite impressed to see him running and tried to be positive and encouraging as we leap-frogged and then passed him.
A little while after that, we caught up to Bob. For those of you from other places, Bob is an 86 year old local runner and bit of a legend, who runs all the races. Bob is great and many of us often speak about how we’d like to “grow up to be like Bob” meaning we want to keep running into our 80s and 90s and even beyond.
We leap-frogged with Bob for a while and then pulled ahead of him on the hill. But then, Bob overtook us on the downhill slope and pulled away a little. We weren’t too worried about that. I’m not sure what my buddies had in mind, but I figured we’d pass Bob eventually, and if we didn’t, as long as we kept him in our sights, I could take off towards the end and pass him if I wanted.
That plan seemed very do-able until the debacle at the aid station at mile 6. Two of my buddies needed to visit the porta-potty, and I was fine waiting for them. Except, the young man I mentioned previously, jumped in line and got into the potty before the second one of my buddies and he was in there for ages and ages. I’m guessing that he doesn’t know how to eat the day before a race yet, and had some serious digestive issues. While I do feel some sympathy on that count, it really did slow us way, way down and that made us all a bit cranky.
After we were finished at the aid station, I was pretty driven to pass the young man at least. My buddies had the sense not to let me pull them along too much, so I ended up running for a while with one of our other running buddies and then even he dropped back. From around mile 8 I was on my own.
For a while, I just ran a comfortable, but slightly faster than usual pace, and enjoyed passing people as I went. After a while, I began to wonder if there was any chance of catching up to Bob. In all reality, there probably wasn’t ever a chance that I could have pulled that off, but it motivated me to go a bit faster.
As I rounded a corner around mile 9, I was sure I saw Bob up ahead. I picked up the pace a bit and before long I caught up to the person I thought was Bob, but it wasn’t Bob. But then, up ahead, I saw another Bob, and off I went. Once again, when I caught up to that person, she wasn’t Bob and didn’t actually look anything at all like him. She just happened to be wearing something blue.
But wait! There he is! That must be Bob there! I thought, as I came up a hill and around a corner. Upon catching up to this new Bob I had to have a good laugh at myself. It was a mailbox. A blue mailbox, but still just a mailbox.
For the next couple of miles I continued to catch up to one Bob after another, but none of them were actually Bob. Finally, I tried to catch one last Bob as we came up the hill at the end of Boy Scout Road, before the turn back onto 83. But of course, he wasn’t Bob either.
I followed a small pack of runners across the street and into the home stretch, but as I turned that corner I became a bit disoriented. I hadn’t noticed any markers pointing us that direction, and I felt certain we’d turned the wrong way. I slowed down considerably, waiting for them to discover their error and turn around. But they hadn’t actually gone the wrong way, and I eventually figured that out when I saw them turn the corner to the finish line, and sped back up.
As I approached the finish, I could hear a runner behind me and I was bound and determined not to be passed so close to the end, so I put every bit of energy I could into speeding up and crossed the finish a few seconds before she did. After getting my timing chip clipped off my shoe, I wandered back out to the corner to wait for my running buddies. I drank my water and cheered everybody in, and before too long there they were. As they came around the corner I fell back in and ran those last few steps with them and then met them on the other side of the line.
We all made it in under 3 hours, even after having so much time basically stolen from us by the young man and his digestive issues.
Here are the times my watch shows for each of the 13 full miles, so you can see exactly what happened.
Mile 1 12:34:51
Mile 2 12:40:00
Mile 3 12:46:00
Mile 4 12:59:00
Mile 5 13:06:00
Mile 6 13:17:00
Mile 7 18:07:00 (Look at how much time we lost!)
Mile 8 12:30:00
Mile 9 12:20:00
Mile 10 12:28:00
Mile 11 12:25:00
Mile 12 11:45:00
Mile 13 12:10:00
In the end, I caught up with at least 6 imaginary Bobs, including the mailbox. But I never did catch up with the real Bob. Bob finished in 2:48:47 and I finished in 2:52:43. I had a great run, through beautiful country and except for that delay, I enjoyed it very much.