A View from the Back of the Pack
Fools Run Race Report
By Gale A. Connor
Lloyd Thomas (RD), once again, put on a first class event; the fifth annual running of the Fool’s 50K Race, which took place in the Virginia Kendall Unit of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, on Sunday, April 7. The race also included a 25K “fun run”. They offered nice swag including a red hoodie with the Fool’s logo and, for the first time, a finisher’s medal. They didn’t give away a sticker this year, which is unfortunate since I do not have one. Local ultra runner and chef, Bill Bailey cooked up some delicious, homemade soup for the runners at the finish line. He offered cheesy potato and vegan vegetable.
The course wound its way through Salt Run, Lake, Ledges, Cross Country, Boston Run, and Pine Grove. Despite the complex looking trail map, the course was well marked and there were volunteers at confusing intersections. Even I didn’t have to worry about getting lost!
The aid stations were manned with wonderful volunteers that took great care of the runners. There was a variety of food and drink, and the volunteers had enthusiasm to spare!
I was recently diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer. I was originally diagnosed eleven years ago. I beat it and became a runner; I credit cancer to saving my life! I quit smoking and became a vegetarian during that time, as well. Giving up drinking came a few years later, but that’s another story. Anyone who knows me, knows that I absolutely loathe running in the cold. I hate it, I suffer, and for the most part, just don’t do it. So, when I opened my door to check the weather last Sunday morning, my heart sang with joy! I generally don’t even do this race because of the iffy weather, but got talked into it by my good friend, Kristin Anderson. This was one year that I was glad I was doing it!
I was doing the “fun run” but I got there early because of the limited parking and to watch the 50K runners start. They went off at 8:00 and we started at 9:00. I was in such a good mood and having so much fun that I was actually dancing at the start line to “I’m Sexy and I Know It”, which was playing over the loud speaker. People were laughing at me, and I was laughing as well.
I forgot to add that I was donning my fanciest black tutu with red and white skulls, a black skull bandana around my neck, and my Bills' Badass skull shirt. I also put my hair in pigtails for this special occasion. :) Lots of people commented and smiled. I was happy to make their day! :)
The trail was bone dry except for a few spots and if you were a fast runner, it would be like running a track meet. I am not a fast runner, but given my great mood, I was having more fun than should have been legal. I was singing and dancing and generally loving life. I guess a cancer scare will do that for you; that and the awesome weather after a long, drawn out winter.
I ran with Towpath Turtles, Sheila Avsec and Shelby Young through Boston Run. I kept saying “Turtles my ass”!! They were running a nice steady pace and eventually pulled away as we headed to the Ledges. Sheila’s parting words were “Fear the Turtle”!
Most of the runners were ahead of me but I did yo-yo with a few of the slower runners. We were together through Salt Run, which is the toughest part of the course and, ironically, at the end of the course. In the end, they pulled away from me but we finished within minutes of each other. It was nice to have some folks within my line of vision the entire race, as I generally run alone due to my lack of speed. I particularly enjoyed running with Tom and Cheryl. We talked about when I ran (I use that term loosely) Mohican 50 Miler and I just about had Tom convinced to do it!
As I crested the last hill, I knew I was about done. I still felt good and nothing hurt, despite the fact that I really wasn’t taking in enough calories. For the first time this season I felt that I could have done a second loop if I really had to. It would have been slow going, but it would have been doable, and that made me smile.
My friend, Kristin, was waiting for me; she had finished only a few minutes prior. I also saw the Turtles lounging by the finish line. I have many friends in the running community and chatted with people that I hadn’t seen since last race season. It was so warm that everyone was hanging around, which made it great for the slower runners; there was a party atmosphere in the air. I was waiting for my longtime friend, Julie Curtis, to finish the 25K. Julie has been dealing with many obstacles over the past couple of years. Last year she injured herself and has not been running for a while, so she opted to hike the race. I watched her cross the finish line which made my day complete. I was proud of her for doing it.
Jonathan Hastings and Beth Woodward were the overall male and female winners of the 50K, while Robert Hawkins and Sadie Smith were the overall winners of the 25K. Jonathan’s finishing time of 3:57:39 set a new Fools 50K course record!
My finishing time was 4:08:23 and even though the winner of the 50K came in before I even finished the 25K, that didn’t matter. It also didn’t matter that the winner of the 25K finished twice as fast as I did, as well. What matters is that not many 54 year old double cancer survivors are out there doing something like this. What matters is, the camaraderie of friends. What matters is, feeling alive and free. What matters is that I had fun!