Run Woodstock : The Natural Miles

I was such a happy camper (pun intended) when I was able to attend Run Woodstock this year. Last year I was told by my doctor I wasn’t allowed to attend (even as a spectator) because I would be too tempted to push it. After going this year, I know he was right!

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Run Woodstock is a 3 day festival of Peace, Music & Running! It isn’t a FULL 3 days and honestly there is SO MUCH to do, it could easily spill over into Sunday afternoon, but I’m sure the race directors need time for clean up. Today’s post will focus on my arrival and the two “natural” runs. Tomorrow we’ll chat about the other events.

The camp grounds open at noon on Friday, and I intended to arrive around 300 in the afternoon. Then I realized I didn’t want to get up too early and opted to sleep in a little. If I was going the whole weekend without sleep I needed to start off on the best possible note. I say this because I was camping in the “rowdy” corner. My section of camp grounds is where every single event passes by on the way to the finish. 100% of the weekend there were people running past and others sitting around cheering. I loved this idea and knew what I was getting into, but wanted to be prepared.

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The 100 mile and 100K runners started at 400 PM. I arrived closer to 430, meaning I missed Mark and Dan take off on their adventures. I later found other friends who were doing those distances too. Many campers were already there and I found my site and raised my tent. Is that how you say it? Now I’ve only assembled this tent 1 other time, in April of 2012 and it was in my living room. Luckily my “neighbors” took pity on me and offered to help. This made it a lot quicker of a process.

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Wandering over to registration I found several members of the Cleveland/Akron tribe and chatted for a while. They were actually about a stone’s throw away, I just couldn’t see them due to a camper and picnic table between us. The sites are tiiiight though! They take a standard lot and split it into about 3 other “lots” for the weekend. I could fit my car and my tent on my site (front to back NOT side by side). Personally, I’m glad they do this, because it allows for so many more people to be able to stay. Some groups used one of the lots to park cars and put all their tents on another site as layout favored this arrangement here and there.

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After picking up my shirt and race bib I continued to unpack and eventually found myself sitting by a fire chatting with my friends and waiting for the first “fun” event…a relaxing 5K. I broke out the festive skirt I made that morning, to make sure it was comfortable enough for the main event the next day. It was a tad long and very thick, but it was super cute (I received sooooo many compliments) and it was comfortable.

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BTW, this 5K has a very special option. About 2 miles into the run there is a split in the road, you may go left or right. One way leads you along the trail and back to the camp grounds. The other way leads you deeper into the woods and you are allowed to run “natural” for a mile. Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like, you strip down to socks and shoes and run free into the night. Oh and you’re allowed a headlamp.

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At first I was super nervous about the idea, and especially about not knowing anyone, since my friend refused to get naked. Then I decided it was probably better NOT to know anyone. I came to the clearing and looked around and it was a lot of naked people. Interestingly enough, it felt weird to be the only person wearing clothes. There is a “bar” set up where they served wine, beer and water, a blanket for placing all your clothes and then a loop mile to run your heart out. While it wasn’t weird to be naked, I was worried people might say something or give me a dirty look. Everyone was VERY nice though! No one said anything negative about anyone else. We were all just naked and sweaty and happy. A kind man and two other ladies grouped off with me and we went for a run. Yes, “the girls” were not very well behaved on this “run” so I needed to hold them down every once in a while or slow my pace.

It was difficult to take it all in (don’t be dirty). Being naked, the night running, being so “in tune” with nature. I tried to practice being mindful and present, but I think there were too many things fighting for my attention. Parts of it still feel surreal.

Once back at the bar people milled about and chatted. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do another loop since I had many many MANY more miles the next day. So I picked up my “button” and walked back with a nice couple. Oh, there were different buttons (like scout badges) you could collect over the weekend for doing different events. You’ll understand better with tomorrow’s post.

The rest of the night was spent sitting by the fire cooking hot-dogs or other fire friendly foods and talking with friends.

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Saturday there was once again a nighttime fun run. There was the option for a 5K with a “natural” detour, or a standard 10K. Part of me wanted to go for the 10K and miles, but part of me knew I may never get a chance to run naked again and might as well live it up!

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On Saturday I actually decided to run, where as Friday I walked the first portion with my friend. It was so freeing to run through the woods, just me and my thoughts, at a slow but wonderful pace. The daytime rain had cooled things down and I was in my happy place. It was hard to believe I’d already put over 17 miles on my legs.

I knew two of my friends were in Saturday’s group, but I expected them to be well ahead of me and out of sight, out of mind. A woman I met along the way entered the clearing with me and told me it was her first time in 3 years of attending to do the “naked” portion. Saturday’s group was MUCH larger and MUCH more under the influence of alcohol. HA! The guy who lead my Friday night group saw me and gave me a high-five for coming back. I tossed my clothes onto the pile and stood around chatting.

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An older man looked at me and told me I looked familiar. He then proceeded to tell me about a nudist colony he was headed to and other random information. I was very uncomfortable. I walked around talking to others and could constantly see him behind me over my shoulder. Weird. I’m sure he didn’t mean any harm, but still.

I ran a loop with the woman I met before and she loved every minute of it. I think it was still very surreal to me, so being able to experience this second night through new eyes was a gift in itself. I also learned some very interesting things about the female body as it ages.

After the run I joked with some friends who were amazed at how comfortable I seemed, maybe I was taking “Blissed In- Happy in My Skin” too literally, huh Bex? We walked back to camp when the bar closed. We didn’t have to go home, but we did have to get dressed and leave the woods.

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No one could believe I ran naked or that I did it sober. It was a very good experience for me. I realized no one has a “perfect” body, but we all have bodies we can do amazing things with out on the trails. I know I don’t look the way I want to look right now, but I need to work on not letting that stop me from living my life, just as Kim so wonderfully wrote about in her blog.

I looked good last year, but injury meant I couldn’t attend, who knows what next year will bring. I chose to live in the moment and took a risk. Friends told me I would never regret it and I certainly do not! I plan to do it again in 2014, maybe I’ll run some extra loops! Who knows, maybe I’ll see you there?

4 thoughts on “Run Woodstock : The Natural Miles

  1. Pingback: Run Woodstock 1/2 Marathon Race ReportROJ Running

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