I think the question/comment that came up most after my five half marathons in five days was
“How do you stand the loops?”
My answer may come as a bit of a shock:
I LOVED THEM!
No, really, I did. And here’s why:
Have you ever run a small race on a point to point course? I have. Lots of them. What happens? You end up by yourself. A lot.
And how much do you really see of the “scenery” when you run? I noticed the monuments when I ran RNR USA, but Beer Geek once asked me when we were downtown if I’d run past a certain location during Marine Corps Marathon. My answer? “I have no idea, I was just trying to survive.”
I know some courses have great views of a city or enough different experiences to keep them interesting, but most races get boring at some point. At that point, you are left with your mind or your music to entertain you.
So here’s why the loops and out and backs were awesome. There were 90 runners (give or take) doing the marathons and half marathons each day. During each race, I’d estimate I interacted with more than 50 of those runners. I smiled. I chatted. I high fived. I mugged for a few photos, patted a few butts, and tossed off a few obnoxious comments. I ran with the “fast kids”, who I’d normally never see again after the first few minutes. I walked with the walkers when I needed a short break. The miles passed quickly because I was a social butterfly.
Sure, I was running, but really? It was a running party.
There was always someone there.
I’ve now run 10 of these types of races – ranging in loop length from 6.55 miles down to 1 mile. 6.55 miles is lonely. 1 mile is tedious. But the courses that were 2.18 out and back or 1.31 figure 8s? Perfection. Even better when you run past the bathrooms and the snack tables with each lap.
Oreo cookie every lap? Why yes, I will, thank you!
“Strip Half Marathon”? Don’t mind if I take off another layer. (Yes, at one point, Beer Geek did comment that if I continued to remove clothes at the rate I was going, I’d be running naked…)
Now, I’ll grant you that if a particular loop wasn’t awesome *cough*Kentucky*cough*, it was really not awesome to do it 6 times. But that’s life, and the hard ones are the ones that make you stronger!
Come join me next time (and oh, yes, there will be a next time) and I’ll show you how much fun it can be!
22 thoughts on “Running in circles”
I had never really given it any thought but you are so right about a loop. Even the 5K out and back here is nice because I get to see my super speedy friends.
Exactly! I love it when I get to see the winners barreling back towards the finish.
I’ve never thought about out and backs in this way. I usually dread them. But I always look for my friends too! So…maybe I don’t dislike them as much as I thought lol!
Ha! It’s awesome to see friends during a race!
I think I would love the loops (I don’t mind monotony in running) – track was always my favorite because you could see and hear other people all the time!!
Yeah, I don’t mind loops, even by myself. I’ve run a ton of miles in my very small neighborhood. I tend to spend most of my time lost in my own thoughts when I run by myself, so it really doesn’t matter where I’m running.
OoO a cookie every lap? Now that catches my interest! I think I could do a loop that was 2- 3 miles. Anything under two seems like it would possibly get tedious. Definitely better than just running by yourself and dying though!
Two-ish miles seems to be the sweet spot. And yes, cookies are where it’s at. ;o)
I *love* looped courses! I ran a full this past New Years Eve and it was 4 loops. Some people hated it, but I enjoyed seeing all of my friends that were cheering for me, those ahead of me and those behind.
Yep, I loved seeing everyone multiple times, especially my husband.
Thanks for this post! I have two races coming up that are loops (a 6 hour race on a 4 ish mile loop, and a 24 hour race on a 1 mile loop) and I’m wondering how tired I’m going to get of seeing the same thing over and over and over… =)
6 hours on a 4 mile loop is totally doable. For the 1 mile race, just plan on making lots of friends LOL.
I like the loop races sometimes. You know where you came from and you know where you’re going. Big races are fun too just different.
I like races of all sizes, but if there are going to be few runners, loops are more fun than point to point. In big races, I don’t mind getting a little space to run without running into someone…
OMG NEXT time? You’re sick 😉
Well I have to say I TOTALLY agree with you. If the loop isn’t awesome, at least the company is. By the time I get to the end of the triathlon I’m high-fiving as much as possible. I’m like a loopy cheerleader. I need the social aspect to get me through. Brava!
I want to run a loop race with you! I need a cheerleader!
alright we’ll have to find one that fits our schedules – geographically it shouldn’t be too hard! 🙂
You ladies could come play at “Labor Pains” with me in September. 5 mile loop course there, and apparently they have beer at the starting/ending point. Just saying… 😉
That comment about toilets really hit a chord in me. And it reminded me about a race I did on a 500m circuit. At the most we were only ever 250m away from a loo if the need arose. For someone like me it was fantastic.
I’m the same! I don’t mind an out & back or loops. It keeps things interesting, and even motivating. I’m doing an out & back 13.1 tomorrow, can’t wait!
I think this sounds fabulous. I love making new running friends before a race and then getting to cheer for them when I seem them after the turn around.