Valley Crest Half Marathon

Valley Crest Half Marathon, startValley Crest Half Marathon June 13.

Somewhere on the first long climb back up, at about the 4 1/2 mile mark, I tripped over something and did a face plant. This resulted in a decent amount of blood and a bit of hurt.

There was a moment while running – I was covered in dirt and bleeding from both arms and both knees; my cuts and scrapes hurt, sweat was stinging them, it was hot, my feet were sore, my time was clearly sucking, my rhythm was nowhere to be found, and I thought for a second that I could easily and justifiably call it a day at the next aid station, just above the start. And then I took a deep breathe and smelled the clay and whatever flower is blooming so strong up there, the smell of which takes me back to my childhood in Libya, and it made me so happy to be running badly through the hills. Why on earth would I want to stop? This was just too much fun, and for a guy who has put himself through all I have in this lifetime, just to be here and be able to do this is a gift.

We’d noticed these two girls at the start – Mary Colburn and Emily Field. Both were real deal runners. One, Emily, was bouncing up and down and doing a lot of burst-of-motion warm-ups. The other, Mary, was doing sprints and somersaults and fluid motion warm-ups. Both were in this not for a fun run but to win.

As the course is both directions, we saw the two girls as they passed us coming back in for the finish. Fluid motion Mary was ahead, and she was beautiful to watch. Corny as it sounds, gazelle is the word that comes to mind. Jerky motion Emily was not too far behind in second place, and her running style matched her warm-up style. It was fast, it was powerful, but it seemed effortful, a force of muscle and will as much as something that was just meant to be. That said, it was a force of effort and will that served her well. Both she and Mary Colburn broke the previous women’s record for the course.

The race itself was awesome, and the organizers (well, really just one organizer, from what I understand: Nancy Shura) did a great job. It’s a personal race. The runners themselves cheer each other on as the faster pass the slower on the way back. The aid stations were managed by cheerful and helpful volunteers. I was able to get my cuts tended to nicely (and quickly) at the 6 mile station. The awards ceremony at the end was nice, on a green grass patch (infinitely nicer and more comfortable than San Diego’s scorching, shadeless blacktop Sea World parking lot.) I didn’t feel like I was just a cash-paying-body in some factory production (San Diego, with 30,000 people vs Valley Crest, with 300).

I wish she did more events.

3 replies
  1. Emily Field
    Emily Field says:

    Yep. Jerky Emily broke Mary’s record by a couple of minutes this year. Then won the San Fran Marathon. I guess effort-full jerky motion running sometimes pulls through:) -Emily Field (Marathon Running Coach & CA State Trail Half Record Holder)

    • Geoff
      Geoff says:

      Congrats! I saw you won SF marathon but hadn’t followed Valley Crest this year. Your “effort-full” form last year was good enough for a record breaking 2nd place in your first race back in, what, 6 years? (You both broke the old record, right?)

      The other day I saw a girl running around the Silverlake reservoir with perfect form. Everything was moving in such a way that would probably give Chi running afficionados orgasms. Even her sweat looked perfect. The only thing was…there was hardly any forward motion.

      Any style of running form will pull through if it results in your times.

    • Geoff
      Geoff says:

      Congrats to Emily on a winning run at this year’s (2011) Bulldog 50K: 1st place women, 4th place overall, behind Jorge Pacheco, Jesse Haynes (also 1 & 2 at Mt. Disappointment 50K earlier this month) and Dominic Grossman (this year’s AC100 winner). That’s some masterful company right there.


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