Ahhhhhh, El Scorcho. The race that makes you question your own sanity, no matter how many races you’ve run before. This one’s at midnight. In the middle of the summer. In Texas. But yet, we keep going back to do it again. My first experience at El Scorcho was not a good one, I was not properly trained and was coming off of a very emotionally and physically exhausting week after my mom’s passing. I finished, very slowly, with Derek by my side and knew that I’d be back to take on the 25K again (I still have enough sanity to know better than to sign up for the 50K. For now anyway.) Well, last Sunday morning, I went out again, ready to take those 15.5 miles on, and this time, I was all smiles at the finish.
Derek and I both agree that the biggest challenge of this race is not the distance, it’s the time of night that you’re running that really makes it difficult. Your heart is saying “Yay, let’s do this!” while your brain and body and are saying “Are you dumb? It’s time for bed, not running!” Running in the dark is something I’m still working on getting better at as well. I think I still run a little tense, even when I feel like I’m seeing pretty well, so I guess some more practice at that will help. (Ragnar Relay, anyone?) The weather was comfortable this year, the humidity was pretty high, but the temps were in the 70’s, and for July in Texas that’s pretty darn nice.
Derek and I arrived early to stake out our spot and visit with some runner friends before the race. El Scorcho is a party, quite a few folks come out just to spectate and partake in the fun, there’s music going and there are taco and icee trucks to keep everyone fed and cool. We wandered around a bit for a while, and finally it was time to get rolling. I said good bye to D, as he headed toward the front of the pack, found my place in line with the back-of-the-packers and at 10 after midnight, we were off. I started off at a nice steady pace, paying close attention to the course and using my little handheld flashlight when I needed it. We’d had some rain the week before the race and they had warned of a few ruts here and there, so I was trying to make sure I didn’t end up on my face given my…ahem, clumsy tendencies. Before I knew it the first loop was done and I was back where I started. I didn’t get too excited at that point, it was only 3.1 miles into 15, but I could already tell it was going to be a much better race than last year. I ditched my light (the moonlight and runners around me provided plenty to see by), kept the pace steady and the miles just cruised by. Derek caught up to me on loop 3, asked how I was feeling and I think I said something to the effect of “Good…almost too good, I’m waiting for the bottom to fall out.” He, unfortunately, was not having a great race and was stopping to do some stretching, so I went on ahead and didn’t see him again until the finish.
Luckily for me, the bottom never did fall out and I finished feeling strong. And even though I didn’t break any land-speed records, I shaved about 48 minutes off my time from last year. 48 minutes. That’s a lot, y’all! Derek was waiting with a big smile and after I collected my awesome bling (bravo, El Scorcho for always providing good bling!) and catching my breath for a minute, I popped open a Blue Moon to celebrate. We hung out for a while to cheer for other runner friends and then finally decided as the sun was coming up that it was time to head out, ending another El Scorcho experience. And even though we’re still sore and recovering from a night of not sleeping, we know we’ll be back for more next year. We just can’t help ourselves. Maybe we’ll even drag a few more friends out there for the fun. Jason, Leanne, Erica, Jeremy, Nona, y’all in?