My friend Stephanie turned her head as we ran down the trail during the Sylamore 25K and said, “My everything hurts.” I knew exactly what she meant. Some days there are those runs when there is not a specific pain, no calf cramp or side stitch, not a burning hamstring or a blister. There are days when so much hurts that the pain can not be specified.
I have claimed in the past that I would never run a road marathon yet found myself attempting a third road marathon within 65 days this past weekend. For marathon #1, the starting temp was right at freezing but the day warmed up to the 50s and partly cloudy. For #2 the weather was slightly colder and stayed cold but we did have a little sunshine. On the morning of #3, the temperature was 56 degrees when we arrived in the parking lot about 45 minutes before start time. By start time the temperature had started to fall. By the time our corral made it to the starting line 45 minutes after start time, the temps had fallen about 15 degrees, there was a cold spitting rain, the winds had picked up, and we had stood shoulder to shoulder for nearly an hour. We were cold, our muscles were tight and we couldn’t wait to get moving. Ashley and I had looked forward to the day, our 3rd of 3 marathons we needed to become Marathon Maniacs, a goal she set for herself and I agreed to join to share the joy of her journey. Rain, cold, sleet or wind would not stop us from reaching the goal. We set off at a pace that was a bit ahead of our earlier finish time paces. We agreed that we would also try to limit our stops and not stop to take photos or chat with friends as we had been prone to do in our previous races. This was the race we’d been looking forward to, this was to be the crown.
Every few miles we would see my sweet hubby who was riding his bike around the course taking photos and checking on us. We also ran into our friend Christine who was out cheering her spouse and his pace group, the one we meant to be in but got in front of at the start.
By mile 12 the temperature had dropped 20 degrees, the wind was gusting up to 20mph, and we were wet. I’m not going to say we were all happy happy joy joy, but we were still determined to finish and told each other that we could take it easier in the hills of the Heights neighborhood that were coming up. Then as we rounded a corner, we saw a policeman jump out of his car so quickly he left the door open and he began yelling at us to stop. We were right at a point where the half marathon was heading down for their last mile to the finish line. The policeman told us the course was closing due to severe weather and we were to immediately go to the finish line. We only got to complete 14+ miles. We went to the finish, collected our unearned medals, and in our disappointed and unbelieving state, wandered past all the people celebrating their finishes with photos and cheers and sat huddled under the only protection we could find from the wind and rain for 30 minutes while waiting on a ride. We had nowhere to go since we were forced to finish in less than half the time we projected. I could not think of how to comfort Ashley. We sat shivering in the cold, our fingers frozen, still in a bit of denial of the day’s events. My everything hurt, including my heart.
Upon reflection, though that moment of being handed the giant medal was undeserved and unearned, it was also unimportant. I have a wonderful experience of my very first road marathon to hold on to. I have a great weekend of travel that included a big batch of off-site cheerleading from my sweet blogger friend Delta Moxie and a wonderful finish to my second marathon with Ashley. And this weekend, I got to spend an afternoon with my friend, shopping and talking at the marathon expo where we met the badass mother runners who were so funny and encouraging.
We heard Bart Yasso share some stories, inspiring us to continue seeking adventure, not just finish lines and had our moments of “ohmygod Bart Yasso just retweeeted us!”. We had a beautiful dinner at one of my favorite restaurants before crawling into bed. I spent the next morning running with my favorite running partner and fellow porta potty enthusiast. It may not have ended the way we planned but that doesn’t diminish the journey.
There were no roses wrapped in tissue or lilies in a vase, there were no reservations for a fancy meal. There were no packages with fancy ribbon to open, there were no chocolates unless you count the fun size Snicker bar I put in my race pack just in case. This year my Valentine drove me 2 1/2 hours to Mountain View, Arkansas, spent the evening picking up my race packet and perusing the local WalMarts for items I’d forgotten, got up before dawn and stood out in the freezing cold for hours while I played in the woods with my friends. Again. But I did get a sweet valentine magnet on bark.
I’ve wanted to do the Sylamore trail run. With choices of 25 or 50K, I could have gone either way IF I hadn’t agreed to do three marathons in 65 days with my runnin bud Ashley. Of course, I may not have been able to do it at all since this year the race sold out 400 slots within 20 minutes. But I wanted the race hoodie. Some folks are medal hoarders and I like tech shirts, but a hoodie? Yeah I want that.
So for Valentine’s Day I got a night at the Ozark Folk Center where we were able to relax and enjoy a couple of night before the race beers while watching TV and foam rolling my hips. Sitting in the car for long periods always makes my hips hurt. It was a quiet night and I couldn’t help but think of our friends, many of whom were sharing houses with 8 to 12 people. I always question if by missing out on the “party” in favor of peace, quiet and a good night’s sleep, I’m not missing out on figuring out how to make the best of a rough race day. Because making the best out of race day, having all the fun and none of the pain, that’s just how we like to do it. So when we came to the cold as icicles down your pants creek, we danced through it. Do-do-do-humming a tango as we went. There was even a twirl or two in there. My partner, Cassandra, my Sunday afternoon running buddy, is a great dancer. Her birthday was the day after the race so this turned in to a bit of a celebration run/jog for her birthday and her very first 25K.
After the toe numbing stream, we spent a couple of singletrack miles held captive by a long line of women who were going just fast enough to keep our group from passing but not quite as fast as we would have liked. We finally got ahead of that pack just in time to spend a couple of miles on steep trail completely covered in snow and ice, singletrack with two-way traffic made for some interesting contortions. We picked and danced our way through that section too. When we reached the turnaround, we met a four person group from Memphis and we exchanged the favor of taking photos of each other. My friend Skip spent the race surrounded by women. We started calling ourselves Skip’s Harem.
With the crowd thinning out on the return trip of our out and back, we could spend a little more time enjoying each muddy stretch, each cold creek, and took a minute to enjoy the waterfall and icicles at Roper Hollow.
I had my phone out snapping photos of the huge icicles when I heard a voice say “Or you could just turn around and let me take your picture.” My Valentine was standing on the trail taking photos of runners under the icicles and I didn’t even see him until he spoke. Steph and I posed for this great photo in which the jacket tied around my waist needs its own zip code.
And what’s the best thing about finishing a race? Recovery. Not only did we collect the hoodies to keep us warm, we got a glass to fill with our favorite recovery beverages.
I’m already looking forward to next year. If this year was any indication, I’ll need to be signed in and at the ready 5 minutes before race registration opens.
This is a blog about fitness, the successes and the failures. I just ran my second marathon in less than 2 months. I could write about the course or the weather; I could write about my time, my training schedule, or my nutrition. But I won’t because training schedules and nutrition advice are not my strong suit. I’d rather write the story you won’t find in a Runner’s World article.
A little more than 3 years ago my husband introduced me to a blog written by the wife of one of his Arkansas State Parks colleagues. The Park Wife and I became blog buddies. Before I knew it she was inviting me to be a part of this cool collective she was orchestrating, the Arkansas Women Bloggers. At the time I thought it was an interesting idea, a way to search and share blogs that were local and written in a variety of women’s voices. Little did I know the impact it would have on my life. It took a couple of years but Stephanie, AKA The Park Wife, convinced me that I needed come face to face time with these women I’d come to know through words and the perfect forum was the Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged conference. I needed a roommate so I asked Stephanie for help. She said, “I know the perfect person.” That is how I met Ashley and that weekend is the cornerstone upon which the madness has been built.
The contest is closed and we have our winners. Don’t miss the show this weekend Friday February 21 – Sunday February 23
Alice: Oh, but that’s nonsense. Flowers can’t talk.
The Rose: But of course we can talk, my dear.
Orchid: If there’s anyone around worth talking to.
Daisy: Or about.
Giveaway tickets were provided by the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show. All opinions expressed here are my own.
Of course they can talk, flowers can say so much about us. Years ago when my sweetness and I were on one of our first dates, we were at the Arkansas Arts Center playing that game, “what do you see?”, while trying to get to know one another. We came across a painting of a pansy with a face. The title card said Self Portrait of Morris as a Flower. To this day we refer to pansies as Morris. Sweetness turned to me and asked, “if you were a flower, what flower would you be?” Without hesitation I answered “venus flytrap”. Two extraordinary things happened after that: he didn’t even blink and he asked me out again. He continues to be a very brave man.
Earlier this week I was invited to join a group of my favorite blog writing gals from Arkansas Women Bloggers for a kick-off shindig celebrating the upcoming Arkansas Flower and Garden Show. Colonial Wine and Spirits was on hand to provide a lovely array of wines to pair with scrumptious food while we learned about this year’s theme from some of the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show board members.
Gardening: That’s Entertainment
It is true that more and more of us our opening our homes to the outdoors with decks, french doors, large patios and outdoor kitchens. We’re taking the indoors outdoors and still bringing the outdoors in when we arrange fresh flowers, plants, branches or found objects into our decorations.
Chris Olsen of Botanica Gardens was there to help me hear what the flowers had to say to me and what they said was “even a few cut flowers from the grocery can make a room feel like an adventure awaits, or can soothe a restless spirit, or provide a conversation starter.” That’s what they said to me. After a quick lesson in tablescaping and how to “jhemajang”, his own personal version of arranging/changing/ assembling with PIZAZZ, Chris reminded us that even if we’ve owned tchotchkes or momentos for years, moving things around keeps life interesting and we wouldn’t want to be bored now would we? I swear I’m going to figure out a way to make a vase or flower pot out of the running medals that are in my drawer. I’m sure there’s a photo on Pinterest somewhere.
The Arkansas Flower and Garden Show has become an annual mother-daughter tradition for me and my mom, the gardener. She humors me and my not quite black but more of a gray-green thumb. If you have a gardener in your life, take them to the show and check out some of the great offerings that will help you decorate and entertain even if you aren’t a Master Gardener. I picked up this great swag from show vendor The Good Earth Garden Center
If you’d like to learn more about planting and gardening in Arkansas as well as get design and decore inspiration, consider attending the show on one or all three days of the big event February 21-23. Check out the schedule of great events and demonstrations on their website and plan to visit the Good Earth and many other area vendors like Antique Brick and Outdoors and Horticare at the show. Not only will you learn, but you’ll be helping others learn as well since proceeds from the show go to college scholarships in horticulture and and help fund The Greening of Arkansas grant program providing resources for community beautification projects around the state.
A huge thanks goes to Colonial Wine and Spirits, the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show Board of Directors and Chris Olsen for entertaining a large group of photo snapping, giggling and social media addicted women. You get to reap some of the reward too. I have three pair of one day passes to the show to give away.
Comment by clicking the comment box at the top right of this post. Tell us your favorite flower, feel free to include what that flower says to you, and three random winners will get a pair of tickets that will open the door to new ways to enhance the beauty in their lives with flowers. Winners will be announced on Friday February 14th just in time to share with someone you love.
You are THE month of love. Not that other months shouldn’t be for love too but you, you are special. You begin with the all important worship of the furry thing that predicts our future weather happiness or despair. Look, I don’t mind winter all that much, in fact I kind of appreciate our southern version of winter: the occasional snow day mixed with 60 degree days. I love that I went out for a run on February 1st wearing short sleeves and capris but could have even gone for shorts if I’d wanted to. Then the very next day I had to wear a heavy raincoat in the wintry mix of sleet and rain to run errands as I waited impatiently for the line of snow that blanketed areas just a few miles away with a beautiful layer of white. It never came. Damn you cold front line! All you gave me was scary thunder sleet. And to top it off, we skipped a chance to socialize over that ridiculous event others call a football match but we call the brand bowl, just because of the crappy weather forecast. The groundhog didn’t see his shadow, he was scared back into his hole by that freaky thunder sleet.
My consolation? The month began with a post River Trail 15K run Big Ass Beer with my girls and a burrito the size of my head, not to mention a pound of fresh chorizo from the market side of the restaurant my running crew lovingly refers to as Mexican Shithole.
Incredible food, great service, and big ass Corona Familiar, la cerveza mas fina. Mas fina indeed. If the groundhog is afraid of thunder sleet, I bet a big ass beer would get him to come out of his hole. So I appreciate what IRunToDrink has to say about runners and drinkers but what I want to know is, after we run, who wants to drink with me?
Last night I was getting ready for bed at the ungodly hour of 9 pm. My husband and daughter do not rise at the crack of dawn in order to sweat off the effects of pasta, hormones and whatever the crack is that goes into Nachos Bellgrande. Seriously. It’s disgusting but I’m thankful that my husband has finally realized that if I even mention Taco Bell, he’d better start thinking of what he did wrong, how to fix it, what mess to clean and whether or not he needs to purchase more wine.
They were discussing the Tom Hanks produced CNN docuseries The Sixties. Go on, search #thesixtiescnn, you’ll be glad you did. Last night the British Invasion episode aired. After exhausting the subject of Roger Daltry’s fancy embroidered jackets and how lyrical poetry in the guise of songwriting became a mode of social change, I heard them start tossing around names, not the names of the British Invasion subjects on the TV of course, because George, Paul, Ringo and John would not have made me question my own intelligence. They started talking about Hunter S. Thompson and Bob Dylan. There was a recount of a discussion with a coworker about the merits of Dylan’s songwriting skills versus his mediocre instrumental abilities and his not ready for mainstream vocals. And that was from the kid. I chose to stay in my bubble bath and not join in the discussion. So while the husband was encouraging the kid to branch out her reading beyond Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, my contribution to the conversation would have sounded something like this:
“I still like 80′s music. I shaved one side of my head in high school. I wore underwear as outerwear and saw Motley Crue live. Twice. This week I read Women’s Fitness and Glamour. I thought about re-reading Catching Fire but didn’t. I like olives.”
There are reminders that I’m not the smart one in the house.