As I sit here watching the snow fall in my chair, I am so grateful. My heart is full.
Let me rewind….
It was cold this morning, but I didn’t mind. My husband and I left the house as the sun was coming up, but with the grey skies, it wasn’t exactly picture-perfect. But, hey, it’s Ohio.
I pulled into the lot that I have visited so many times and got my vest on. I began the long trek to the start line where I reunited with Dan. He gets the primo parking since he’s doing the 50k ; )
We headed to the arch and I began looking for familiar faces. I knew a lot of people would be there, and I didn’t want to miss seeing them. It was so fantastic to see so many people; past patients that were toeing the line, friends, people I had been virtual friends with via social media, and buddies that were volunteering. I knew two people hoping to get a belt buckle today. It’s always exciting as we gather to take on Mother Nature at Rocks and Roots, and the start line is my favorite.
We headed into the woods not knowing what would be in store for us today. If you remember, in January it was a mud-fest. Since then, we have had sub-zero temperatures, 50+ degree days, and then rain this week leading up to the race. Seriously, Ohio is a train wreck.
Luckily, it has been frigid again the past couple of days, so it would be unlikely that we would see as much mud as last time. However, we did have to navigate the frozen foot prints and ruts from the previous race. That was a whole different adventure, but I’ll take that over mud any day.
The first loop was perfect; I couldn’t have asked for anything better, to be honest. I did almost lose my hat early on when a tree branch grabbed it right off of my head as I sailed underneath. Luckily, the runner behind me grabbed it and handed it back. I was thankful, since I love my “Run Happy” hat. My split was fast, thanks to Dan. He kept pushing the pace since he knew there was precipitation in the forecast. We figured it would start around 12 or 1, and we didn’t know if it would be rain or snow. Last year, it was rain and it sucked.
On to the second loop. The North loop had been kind, but the South loop is always a bit trickier. It didn’t disappoint, but it was far better than I had imagined. We got to the aid station and I was surprised to see a familiar face there. I was so excited to see her, and she has been such an inspiration to me, it carried me through the next few miles. (Thank you, Meghan!) We finished the second loop and I realized I had PR’d that section. I couldn’t be happier.
The only difficulty up to this point was the water crossing. Now, we all know that water crossings are par for the course at Rocks and Roots, but at the end of the South loop, there is always a big question mark….how high will the water be? Today, it was mid shin. AND IT WAS COLD. I was soaked, but I wasn’t all that worried since I was past the halfway point. However, Dan would have to go through it again later…and he didn’t bring extra socks. SMH.
We stopped briefly at the aid station again. I love the choice of songs they always have playing through the speakers. It is always perfectly timed. This time, as we tip toed through the frozen ruts, had roots reaching up to grab our feet and trip us, and dodged the tree branches that were trying to steal our clothes, I heard “Welcome to the Jungle”. I cracked up.
On to the third, and final, loop for me. I was still feeling pretty good. No precipitation yet, plenty of food and hydration, and I was still smiling. Dan had started having some knee pain and I had twisted my bad ankle a couple of times, but we were still hanging in there. Dan stopped to stretch, but I kept on. I knew that if I stopped for too long, I’d start to get cold, and I didn’t want to go down that road. After a few minutes, I realized that Dan was nowhere to be seen. Knowing that he’s tough, I figured he’d catch up with me eventually, so I kept moving at a slow, but steady pace.
He did finally catch up when I had about a 5k to go. I could hear him behind me, so I knew we’d finish almost together. I pulled up to the side of the trail while I finished my gel, and then fell in with him.
As we came in under the arch, I knew he would have to decide if he was going to keep going or call it a day. He seemed a little defeated, but I knew he’d never forgive himself if he stopped now. He was on pace for a PR today, and I knew he had it in him. I told him to put his head into a place to make it happen. He got some hot broth, gave me a quick kiss, and off he went.
So, it did wind up snowing. It’s still snowing, actually. Dan got his wish; it didn’t rain. He finished. He PR’d.
Now, to take care of my patient.
It was a good….no, great day to be in the woods.
Run happy. Run long.
Amy is an ultramarathoner and triathlete, a coach, a mother of four, an Exercise Physiologist and a Physical Therapist. She lives with her husband, Dan (also an ultramarathoner and triathlete), and kids in Ohio.