But first, the race!
Natalie, Karen, and I decided to do the Thrill in the Hills Marathon at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, GA. Sure, Natalie was scheduled for a marathon 3 weeks prior to the race, Karen was coming back from Hawaii, and I was undertrained. Our friend James was running, it is a lovely trail race, and what a grand adventure it would be!
Then, life intervened. I have been sick for two weeks, Karen was exhausted from her trip, and the weather was cold and rainy. So, it ended up that only Natalie was tough enough for the full, I ran the half with James, and Karen got some much-needed rest.
It was a beautiful race, though, even with the muddy conditions, and I had a grand time running through the woods. I sang songs ("Gilligan's Island," when the dude in front of me turned up the bottom of his white hat which reminded me of Gilligan's hat; "Bootylicious" after I slipped off of the trail and landed on my well-padded posterior; and the "Rocky" theme after another runner requested it), chatted with other runners and generally had a glorious time. I challenged some young dudes to a swim across the freezing lake (I totally could have taken them on the swim, not so much on the run). And, I only fell three times! The first time, I face-planted and James picked me up. The second time I slid out of a turn, which led to the Bootylicious discussion with my fellow runners. The last time was 1/2 mile from the finish where I thought I could leap over the puddle like the dude in front of me. Alas, no. My feet slipped out from under me and I landed IN the puddle.
So, my shoes look very clean here because I had hosed them off before this photo. You would have thought that trail shoes would have been necessary for this race, but my Ghost 5s performed admirably and shucked each layer of mud and dousing of water within about 4-5 steps.
NOW, on to the horsing around:
Our race instructions were very specific about waste disposal:
Aid Stations: 3.95 (water), 6.95 (water / gatorade / gel packets), 10.3 (water), 13.25 (water / drop station for 42K runners)... please note at each of these stations we will have trash cans located just beyond the station... please help us keep the trails clean by putting the "gel packets" and "cups" in the trash cans.
Note that last part. The "putting the gel packets and cups in the trash cans" part. Is that ambiguous? Does it not mean "put your trash in the can"? Well?
Apparently, my fellow runners (people consuming jet blackberry GU, blueberry pomegranate ROCTANE, and Powerbar gel, I am especially talking to you), interpreted this sentence differently because they dropped trash everywhere. They left stuff at road crossings, at the directional signs, after each aid staion, in the middle of the trail. Seriously. I picked up at least three gel containers, plus tear tabs, cups, and other trash between each aid station. Consider that (a) I only did the half, (b) I did not get every piece of trash, and (c) there were a lot of people behind me, and you start to realize that those runners are a bunch of pigs.
Now, it was good for me to look for the trash because it kept my eyes sweeping the trail, which helped me maintain my footing, but really? How about a brief tutorial in proper gel management?
Dagny and Annika will demonstrate:
After you have eaten most of the gel, tuck the opening tab against the bottom of the sachet as you roll it up to squeeze the rest of the gel out:
Completely rolled GU sachets are empty (no sticky leakage!), small, and easily stowed in your pocket, jog-bra, handbottle pocket, etc.
Until you find a proper trash receptable.
Please note that I am a GU Ambassador and a Brooks Fanatic, so I receive reduced-price products (and sometimes free stuff!) from them. However, regardless of these relationships, GU is my fueling method and Brooks are my shoes of choice, neither company commissioned this post (littering really is my pet peeve), and I paid to enter myself in the Thrill in the Hills marathon.