While Brad is at the controls on the wild side, I’m trying my best to get caught up on the race posts for the ’22 season. This was a relatively light year for official races with only three. Linda had a number of out of state agility shows which conflicted with some of the local races and, to be honest, most of my focus was on the 100K ultra race (link here). Road races have lost their luster with me now that the call of the trail has taken hold. For nostalgia purposes I still like competing in the Bix 7 race as that was the first race that kicked off my running career (link here). The plan was just two races, but then Linda noticed the Screaming Pumpkin had come back for the first time since 2014. After years and years of practically begging, one of my favorite races themed in my favorite holiday was once again open for business.
Hit the jump to read more about this haunted cemetery run
There was some organization changes with the previous race coordinators shifting to just timing responsibilities while a charity organization took the sponsorship reins. The Yellow Bear foundation used the resurrection of this race as a fundraiser in support of their cause – helping children with Primary Immunodeficiency (PI). Along with what turned out to be a rather steep entry fee, they were asking for an additional donation to assist in their efforts. It’s a good cause and willingly gave the additional donation, but definitely left some questions for next year. One very nice surprise was the race swag ended up being quite nice – a long sleeve shirt (wish they would have kept the headless horseman logo from before), a zipper pullover and a mug. That made me feel a little better. Will get into this more in a bit, but found out one of my training partners (Ryan) had decided to enter at the last moment – higher price, additional donation and then due to the late signup – NO SWAG … ouch.
Their best decision is they brought back the full prediction element. No timing devices on the course, you decide when to start and the winner is the one who comes in closest to midnight without going over … except I didn’t see the fine print as they moved the finish hour up to 10pm. Not a big issue as it still included running through a historic cemetery in the dark with only glowsticks on the ground to help label the route. Springdale Cemetery happens to be a “home course” for me as it is a training run staple and competed in several of the Screaming Pumpkins back in the day. Ryan and I could probably run that course with our eyes closed.
Due to injuries, traveling, his work schedule and all the Covid crap for the last couple of years, Ryan and I have not been able to train together as often was we used to. It was a pleasant surprise when he informed me a few days before that he was going to enter. Of note, Ryan and I (along with Sung) won the last prediction race they held back in 2014. I was hoping we could defend our title in the relay marathon, but Sung wasn’t ready to race and our other options were either injured or fallen off their training. That initially put me solo in the half marathon (same distance for me as in the relay as I usually took two laps of that 4 person relay). Ryan opted for the half as well which technically meant we would be competing against each other.
The Wednesday before the race, I went and ran one loop of the Springdale course just to give me a feel for timings in order to set my launch time. I was still recovering from the 100K race which meant the body was still sore and worse, the bottoms of my feet had not healed (nor have they completely healed to this date). Losing all the skin meant there would still be some grimacing especially when I hit the rocky parts. Taking it cautiously slow, one loop took me 1:03 minutes. This included running the three giant hills in that cemetery. College level math…carry the one, convert units, a bit of linear algebra and a spoonful of derivations comes to 2:06 minutes expected finish time. Working back that meant a start time in the 7:45 or so range. Race plan was to do one loop, see if I hit the 1:03 mark and then scrub some time off before the second loop to put me closer to the 10PM cutoff. Ryan was pretty unsure of his running condition (been battling injuries for a while) and decided to start earlier to account for his expectation to walk the hills.
By the way, what do you think of Ryan’s costume? I expected nothing less from him. Although I did make a point of making fun of his pink shoes for most of the night – he claims they were orange…. I’ll let the jury decide. I opted to simply bring out the 2014 Screaming Race shirt and beanie.
Ryan launched and maybe 7 or 8 minutes later I embarked on my first loop. Guessing there was a huge smile on my face with Halloween just a few days away, costumes everywhere, a run through a scary cemetery… Bri was in his element. From a pace perspective, everything was going great on that first loop. Ended up catching Ryan on the second to last hill maybe 5 miles in. He was walking, but looked like his legs were hanging in there. Didn’t want to impact his pace and I was trying to hit my prediction time, so wished him well and carried on. Got to mile 6 and wow, something wasn’t right in my stomach. That morning was the funeral for Linda’s brother in Davenport (link here). All the travel, the stress of the event itself and admittedly wasn’t careful enough about what I ate at the luncheon hit me hard. Made it back to the start and had to take a break to get things settled down. Not an issue though, as I had hit my 1:03 mark perfectly so there was extra time to scrub anyway. Note, they had a race clock at the starting line allowing people to coordinate their launches – that meant you knew the lap times and could adjust accordingly – once on the course you were reliant on your pace mechanics. Ryan made it back a few minutes later looking stronger than he led me to believe before he started. After a quick rest, he headed back out. I still had about 6 or so minutes to shed assuming the same pace as the first loop.
While running my strategy through my head a few more times, started thinking about Ryan and wondering if he would be able to make it by the deadline – he had already left, but if he was planning on walking the hills again it was likely not going to happen – screw it, I wasn’t going to leave him out there on his own if he wasn’t confident of getting through. Said goodbye to Linda and headed out early. My calcs indicating having to scrub off a little over 4 minutes. About a mile, maybe a bit more I saw his pink shoes ahead of me (so pink they practically glowed in the dark ha). Pushed up to him and told him we were going to get through this together. Each mile passed as we caught up on old times, made each other laugh (most of it making fun of each other’s age or latest injury). I tried matching my original plan for the second half, but with us laughing and talking I wasn’t sure of the impact to the pace (assumed a slowing). I still had 4 minutes to play with and decided to add in a couple of short recovery walks – giving a chance to shed the extra minutes and give Ryan a chance to rest a bit. Keep in mind there was NO ONE else around us – we passed a couple of women who were struggling and beyond that we couldn’t spot any headlights.
Were we way ahead, everyone else off pace, were the others attacked by zombies – no clue. Rather than worry about it, settled back into our pace and continued cracking jokes and going over the latest movies we watched – our standard training regimen. We had just complete the final hill and a very fit lady in tight racing shorts (it wasn’t THAT warm out there) passed us at a good pace. She put about a .1 mile on us and then did something that caught me off guard – she looked at her watch … blink, blink, shake head, blink some more before asking Ryan “Did you see THAT!” He mistook what I was alluding to which made us both laugh so hard we nearly fell in a bunch of potholes. “No, no, no, she just looked at her watch”. It didn’t click at first and I repeated “her watch!” Then he got it – there were no watches allowed – otherwise it really isn’t a prediction race now is it. I decided to pick up the pace a bit. About .2 mile further another individual passed us, moving pretty fast adding to the concern. Talked it out with Ryan and picked up the pace and skipped the last remaining rest walk just in case. A mile later we crossed the finish line and learned we were one minute past the deadline. Sooo close, but I couldn’t be happier. It has been a long time since I’ve had the chance to run with Ryan and the first time in a couple of years we’ve had the chance to participate in the same race. In defeat came victory. Held my tongue as they presented the lady with her wining medal.
Next year we’ll be on the podium – assuming we can get past the cost.