After last weekend's fairly ego-busting romp, I convinced Stacy to run a race that we had already decided to volunteer at, the Rocky Raccoon 10K/25K/50K.
It was decided that we would run this as a training run and have a nice, relaxed run on some beautiful trails and then show up for our time to help the HTrex Aid Station. The 25K seemed to fit our needs perfectly.
The morning started at an early 4:30 am, heading to Huntsville State Park in 34 degree temps. I had Lem and her friend tag along for the "experience" since they both are budding runners. Hot Cocoa and fresh baked Cranberry muffins in hand, they piled into the Nerd Herder with coats and blankets for everyone.
We met Stacy in the dark and suddenly realized how very, very cold it was! I told the girls to hang out in the Nerd Herder for as long as they wanted to so as to keep warm, but asked that they not run the engine because I was low on fuel.
Stacy and I headed to the start line and at 7 AM, we began our training run. It was a great day to run the trails. We saw lots and lots of people, many of which looked as though they had not run trails before, but seemingly enjoying the nice change of venue from road running. One guy was thrilled to find Oreos at the aid stations and kept yelling out to the incoming runners, "THEY HAVE OREOS!" He was ecstatic and we told him to hang in there because there would probably be Gummy Bears somewhere along the line too! I bet he'll be back for more trail running!
We probably started out a bit faster than we should have, but it was all for fun and when we ran into Miles, we decided it was all his fault we were running a sub 9 min pace on the trail! He was kind enough to let us know that his game plan was to run until he either finished or blew up. We thanked him for that information and decided we'd opt for the finish! (Love that guy!)
I tend to run faster than I should and knowing that Stacy is recovering from her first 100 miler as well as running on a BROKEN ANKLE and with a BROKEN WRIST from a recent car accident that happened one week before her first 100 at Arkansas Traveler, I thought it best if I let her set the pace.
We had a good run and lots to talk about since we had not seen each other for about 6 weeks. We took the rest of the run easy but Stacy did manage to tweak her ankle and fall. My heart stopped as I saw her hit the ground, but it true to life Stacy form, she got up, shook it off, and kept going. She is a tremendous athlete not to mention insane.
We finished the race/run, and decided we were wanting some real food to eat before heading to the Aid Station to help. As we tried to start the Nerd Herder, there was an eerie "click, click, click" with no engine turn over. Ugh. New cars should not have dead batteries, should they? Upon a bit of investigation, it was discovered that the girls had indeed stayed in the car to keep warm using the radio for quite sometime. Thankfully, there was a nice mountain biker just waiting to offer his help, and soon enough we were on the hunt for some food.
The Aid Station was tons of fun! I have never volunteered at a trail race before. I am so glad that I did and will be certain to do so as often as possible. Trail runners are an incredible bunch of people. From the volunteers that help run the races to the participants of the race, the joy of running shines through even in the difficult times.
A runner, Les, came into the aid station and we noticed that his little finger looked a bit, shall we say, broken? We called Stacy over and within minutes, she fixed him up and sent him on his way! In true runner fashion, instead of crying about how much it must of hurt, he said, "THANK YOU!" and headed to the finish line!
I had the absolute pleasure of seeing several friends finishing up the 50K. Ken, Edwin, Trudy and many others. I had the privilege to meet three ladies, all close to if not already 70 years old. They were walking the 25K. What a fun bunch of girls! Before they left the aid station, one of the ladies shared with me that she had stage 4 lung cancer and that her two friends agreed to walk this with her because she wanted to do it so much. I could barely contain my tears and asked her if I could give her a hug. She appeased me and I could see we were all choked up, so I sent them on their way to finish the final 2.8 miles. My hope is that yesterday was all that she hoped for and more. Friends like that don't come around very often...
So to my friends and family that support what I do, I thank you. Again and again.