If you know me, you probably know that I'm likely one of the most obsessive "just for fun" runners in town. In Indiana, perhaps? The country? Who knows. Basically, that entails planning out my race schedule at least six months in advance (if not more), and making very specific goals that, come hell or high water, I'm determined to meet.
Until this year, I wasn't very good at meeting them though. In fact, my past history of not meeting goals was so consistent that I had a few people telling me my 2012 goals were not possible, and I should set my sights on something a bit less challenging. They weren't trying to be mean; they just didn't want me to get bummed out if and/or when I didn't meet them.
|1:50 goal pace tattoo|
Maybe it was the fact that I was being challenged. Maybe it was my newly found determination and fairly serious training schedule. Or maybe it was my great running partners. Whatever the case, not only did I meet all of my spring goals, I exceeded some of them on the first try, made new goals, and met those.
After I met these goals, I was kind of at a loss. Do I make new goals for the fall and risk failing at them? Do I run a full marathon? Stick to shorter races? Every year, as summer rolls around, I get slower, and slower...and slower. In fact, last July, I could hardly run a mile without walking, which makes having any sort of summer or fall goals a bit daunting. It hasn't happened yet and I'm wondering if it will, being that I'm in a lot better shape than I usually am. We'll see...
But I did it anyway. I made a (third) list of 2012 goals.
2012 Dances with Dirt race in Gnaw Bone, Indiana, which took place on May 12. I signed up just a couple of weeks before, thinking it sounded challenging, and that the waiver was a bit scary, as were the snake pictures from last year, but...what I liked about the race was that I knew absolutely nothing about it, I'd never run a trail half marathon, much less an extreme one, and therefore, there was no way I could do anything but run it JUST FOR FUN.
|A portion of the scary waiver was printed on the back of our race shirt!|
Just for fun? What's that? A foreign concept for sure. But I did it. Not only did I do it, but it was likely the most fun race I've ever done. Even doing it completely alone. I didn't get bit by a snake or any ticks, get poison ivy, get lost, or anything of the sort that I was completely freaked out about before the race. I did however have my shoe sucked off in nearly a mile of mud (not mud puddles, but super thick mud that you couldn't possibly go around), fall backwards into someone, blacken two toenails running down the super steep old Ski World hill through waist high grass, and soak myself up to my shorts running through some sort of stream. Thankfully, that was at the end of the race and it washed all the mud from my shoes and legs! It was a BLAST.
|Some of the woods we ran through (pics courtesy of |
Christy Victor—I didn't bring my camera out there)
|More places we ran through|
|Stream we ran down. It wasn't until after the rocky section|
that it got up to my shorts—right where we had to climb
back onto the trail.
|Awesome medal on awesome shirt|
|Finish line—NOT my time (mine was 2:43, almost a full hour|
slower than my road time)
Looks fun, right?!
Will I run it next year? We'll see. Now that I've run it once, I fear I won't be able to do it "just for fun" again, being that I'd have a previous time to compare myself to—and therefore try to beat. I'm happy to say I did it once though.
My name is Mandy Clarke, I'm 32 years old, and I run to...have fun, with and without goals.
(If you're looking for a true DWD "race recap", check out Ben's report on the FIFTY miler HERE.)
MANDY CLARKE is Trade Marketing and Publicity Manager at Indiana University Press. She grew up near Lake Michigan in Northwest IN and currently resides in Bloomington where she received her BA in Journalism. She has been running since the birth of her son in 2007 and has run several half marathons, 2 full marathons, and countless 5K and 10Ks. Mandy enjoys reading, photography, volunteering, writing, and spending time with her husband and son. She is the creator and moderator of this blog, and a member of BARA.