If you’re familiar with The Oatmeal, you may know the Blerch. It almost seemed that in quick succession it became known that Matt Inman was a serious athlete, not a lazy slob like his comic characters indicated, that he ran ultra marathons, and that he wrote a comic-turn-book about his motivations for said running.
Fast forward to a race series all about “beating the Blerch.” 2014 was the first race event launched in Seattle, but this year the event expanded to multiple locations, including the east coast. Jeremy and I signed up quickly, along with several of my coworkers and friends. While I though a half marathon would be a nice goal, I chose the 10k instead since I wasn’t sure I’d have time to train with my busy summer of weddings.
A few weeks before race day, the course was released and many people started rumblings about it being a serious trail race. If I’d been paying attention to sign up page, it does mention running on trails, but I didn’t think too hard about it. It became a bit of controversy, the reality of a legit trail race competing with the idea of a fun Blerch race with cake.
Two days before the race I was working on cleaning my apartment in Troy and driving a grumpy cat down to Princeton, so my attentions were elsewhere. Our friends drove down Friday night before the race, and kindly ignored all the boxes and very unfinished feel of our apartment. Once we got to the race early Saturday morning, we were ready to get our Blerch on. We spotted Matt Inman milling about (and Jeremy ended up running with him briefly during the half), got our swag, and took advantage of early bathroom stops. Once everyone left for the half I was lucky to run into my friend Tamra, and I had some lovely people to hang out with while waiting for the 10k to start.
The race itself: yep, that was a trail race. I definitely wish I had trail running shoes, because I have wobbly ankles on flat surfaces, and the more tired I got brought more slips. I managed to get almost to mile 6 before falling in great spectacular fashion. Luckily I didn’t hit my head but I scraped up my right leg and arm, left knee, and hands. Runners right behind me were so sweet, checking if I was okay and getting my handheld water bottle back to me. I think everyone knew it was a rough course and people were very helpful. Some people were trying to race seriously – and the people wearing headphones that couldn’t hear someone trying to pass definitely created a hazard. Trails are not the place to tune out! Of course I was probably too aware and maybe wobbled too much trying to stay out of the way of people I could hear coming up behind me. First trail race lessons!
I was embarrassed that I fell and I was so close to the finish that I resisted the urge to cry/give up and pushed through to the finish line. I was only able to mildly high-five one of the Blerches at the finish as I was trying not to get blood on anyone. I did love getting heckled by a Blerch at the water stop at mile 3. Really the best volunteers at this event! I finished, got my medal, and waited for Jeremy to finish. Then we found the rest of our crew, took a picture on the official couch, and booked it right to some delicious food downtown.
Beat the Blerch was quite the adventure. My time wasn’t too bad but the course was definitely short. I’ll take it, though! And now I’ve done a trail race. I don’t know if I’ll do one again any time soon, and I’m hoping the swelling in my knee goes down and my scraped up arm heals soon. But I did it! Suck it, Blerch.