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Popping the Robie Creek Cherry

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As a 33-year-old Race to Robie Creek virgin, I'm not sure what I expected from my recent deflowering. It was hot. We were sweaty. There was some chaffing of exposed skin. But the end result, despite a few remaining sore spots, is a newfound confidence; my friends say they can see it when they look into my eyes.

Ironically, the confidence didn't come from running 13 miles or even from the successful face-off with Aldape Summit. It came from the 14th mile where, more than an hour after finishing the half marathon, my real race began.

After weaving through a mass of iPod-wearing, hard-breathing grimacers on foot for nearly two hours, I knew the last thing I'd want to do was enjoy the aroma of their perspiration (and mine) in a poorly ventilated shuttle bus all the way home. With that in mind, my friends and I had devised an exit strategy.

My husband had agreed to meet us somewhere on the road between the park at Robie Creek and Highway 21--he wouldn't be permitted to drive all the way in, but we figured he'd make it as far as the nearest roadblock. With a pre-arranged meeting time, all we had to do was get to the roadblock in time for him to swing by and pick us up. Nothing to it.

At precisely 15 minutes prior to the pre-arranged time, now clad in flip-flops and toting the last few swallows of our first (third?) pints of Mirror Pond Ale, we left the park on foot. Giddy with "runner's high," we spent the first few minutes of our blistered-toes shuffle congratulating ourselves for not allowing the amnesic effect of the booze to impede our plan. As we limped past the long lines of people waiting for the bus, I waved at another friend who stood patiently sandwiched between her future seatmates.

On we walked, commenting to each other, "It can't be more than a mile, can it?" It can, as a matter of fact, and it was.

Fifteen minutes into our death march to Highway 21, the bus (which now contained my smug-looking friend) passed us. Five minutes after that, a man walking in full cycling attire, including road shoes with cleats, passed us. Apparently any wheeled device, even a bicycle, had not been allowed to proceed past the roadblock. And apparently, we were moving slower than we thought and losing the race against the clock. Our hopes of being on time for our pick-up evaporated. Ten minutes later, we were still walking. We could now make out an Ada County Sheriff's rig blocking the road, shimmering like a mirage in the heat but not appearing to get any closer.

In cycling parlance, we liken energy consumption to burning a book of matches, and on that Saturday, I burned every single one. Thinking I could easily walk one more mile after a race that bills itself as "the toughest half marathon in the Northwest" was an idea borne of sheer lunacy. I'm not Chuck Norris. But I made it! And fortunately, our chauffeur was almost as late as we were.

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