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.
The coveted hoodie
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.
Skip with part of his running 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.
Stephanie takes a minute to showcase the ice
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.