Yesterday was the first time I had run at Delaware State Park in a looooonng time. I used to run out there for some of the local triathlons way back when. Usually we ran close to the beach since there was one transition. I knew there were lots of trails out there, but haven’t had the chance to do any exploring.
Dan had been deathly ill the entire week leading up to the race. So, I made the decision to bump us down to the 10k instead of the 20k. I’m glad I did; I’ll explain later.
The forecast was not looking so good, it was going to be really cold the morning of the race. Luckily, the race director was going to have heat sheets at the finish line for all of us runners that tend to get chilled the minute we stop running (life saver). There was also going to be hot food, too. Huge bonus if you ask me.
We made our way to the race that morning, unsure of how Dan would do. I was worried that he would start coughing and not be able to recover due to the cold air. He wore his buff to help heat the air a bit and not irritate his throat as much, and it definitely helped.
As per usual, there were some familiar faces at the start line. I always say that the start is one of my favorite parts of trail racing. I love catching up with fellow trail runners and seeing what they’ve been up to. It’s fun to see them out there enjoying life and all it has to offer. Some people were dressed up in Viking outfits, which was great! We had opted not to try to wear our Viking hats since we were running a little late and didn’t have all of our weapons and gear ready to go. My focus was more on Dan and his health than anything else.
I will say this: what a beautiful run. The trail was in really good condition, considering all of the rain and storms and snow and everything we had been hit with in the past month. Ohio weather is about as predictable as a teenager….and a moody one, at that. But, the trail had held up well. It wasn’t too hilly and technical, so I actually got to enjoy the scenery a bit.
There were sections where you could see the water easily since the trees are bare. I tried to picture what it would look like in the summer with all of the green. I bet it’s even more beautiful!
One of the highlights of the race was seeing a buddy of mine at the first aid station. As I ran through, she cheered me on, which gave me a nice little lift and forced me to pick up the pace.
You see, I was running alone….Dan took off at the start, of course. This man, who was within inches of his death just days before and hadn’t run in a week (at least), must have been so excited to run again, he just couldn’t help himself. I wasn’t shocked, though. As I passed through the aid station, I secretly hoped that my friend handing out water and words of encouragement would stay warm, and that Dan wouldn’t burn out or turn blue having a coughing fit up ahead.
As I neared the turn around, I saw my Dan. Still smiling, of course, but looking like he may have gone out too fast. He hollered to me to catch up….ha ha. I just shook my head and kept plugging away.
I started to head back to the finish, once again letting my mind wander a bit and take in the gentle sloping of the trail, the uniqueness of the terrain, the beauty that was surrounding me on this cold morning. I was feeling really good and in a nice groove. More happy faces at the next aid station, people out there helping us selflessly on such a frigid day. What an act of kindness. I know what it’s like when you’re not racing and the weather isn’t ideal. You secretly wish you were running just to be warm. But, each and every volunteer that morning was fantastic and enthusiastic and seemed genuinely happy to be there.
Up ahead….what do I see? My man Dan. He was waiting for me; or was he just struggling to breathe? Sure enough, when I caught up, he was winded but he was still ok. He admitted that he went out too fast, but we fell in together and continued the journey toward the finish. We agreed that it was good we were only doing the 10k. As we ran, he pointed out different parts of the trail that we would be running on for our next race together up there in May. I was thankful that I was getting a good sampling of the terrain.
As we headed into the last mile, Dan fell behind. I thought he was still behind me, but when I looked back, I realized it was someone else. I got to the last section where we were back on the road, and pulled off to the side to wait for him. He was now struggling more with breathing. Thankfully, he had enough in him to finish the race.
After the finish, we headed to get some warm food. I made a “breakfast taco” out of the pancake, sausage, and bacon and it was quite yummy. Dan was glad he survived – so was I.
Even though it was a bit rough for my hubs, it was still a great race all in all. I really like that trail, and I want to get back there as soon as I can. Another date race in the books. Next up: the indoor tri!
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.