This one was a blast! ….mostly because I wasn’t running it! Ha! Kidding aside, I did really want to run this race...but... I was gonna get the best of both worlds. I would get to run some of the course, work the aid station with my kiddos, and cheer on other runners and enjoy the fact that their suffering was not mine! Muahhahaha.
This is a rugged, rugged course. Rocks and roots and leaves everywhere. Plenty of climbing and descending as well. This is where I cut my teeth on trails...and knees, hands, elbows, and shoulder once or twice. In the summer it is muggy, hot, with some sections of these trails are almost completely covered with all kinds of poisonous plants (not to mention poisonous snakes) and brush. In the winter the leaves hide all of the sharp rocks well, making every step a new ankle strengthening experience. Now the thorny vines that the summer lush keeps hidden are revealed, evidenced by the scratches...only fully realized in the post run shower. She teaches me much every time I venture out there….when I’m willing to listen. I have fought her many times and she would just laugh and encourage me to relax and learn. She has been patient and kind to me. The OT is a mother to me.
My day started at 3am….again. Stirring the pot, I realized another first...making chili and cornbread at 3am. Really, who makes chili at 3am? Donuts at 3am yes, chili at 3am...just wrong. We loaded snowflake, our blonde lab and the 3 kids into the minivan and we were off pre dawn. Snowflake has not had a bath in...well, I don’t have any clue…. and brushed? Ha! Within 15 minutes the air was swirling with white hair and smells of chili and moldy dog. Me (highly caffeinated) smiling and chatting at Todd. Todd looking at me with that "I blame you for this" look. As you can see below, he came to life once he got out of the van and shook the ole legs out!
We arrived just after sunup and unloaded ourselves. Todd would be running the 25k. My plan was to help get the runners off, set up the chili, get the kids to the first aid station to help and I would leave the first aid station go up to the top and come back down for an 11 mile jaunt. We had a nice little surprise at the first aid station...the RD’s daughter playing the clarinet for the runners. Awesome!
I took off from the Big Cedar trail head and headed up. She did not disappoint, and I was quickly reminded of all the tricks and treats of this section of the Ouachita Trail. She did not disappoint, and I was quickly reminded of all the tricks and treats of this section of the Ouachita Trail. She teaches the novice...and the stubborn that she is in charge.
Respect her, work with her, take what she gives you, and you will have an awesometacular day. I was very quickly caught by
the lead runners. They were flying of course and chatting and looked good. (This pic credit goes to Tommy Brennan). I caught a few of the early starters and bid them good day as well. It was nice to be able to relax and do my own thing without a sense of pressure. My focus was to climb steady, stay in zone 4b as much as possible on climbs and relax a little everywhere else. Got to the top and chatted with Rick Snyder at the aid station. Very windy and chilly up there so didn’t linger long. Back down those switchbacks.
Lots of hellos to all the runners coming up, many familiar faces and friends. Met Todd who was looking great as always and feeling good in general. Quick kiss and off I went.A little trail carnage here....Fortunately no major damage.
Last 2 miles I ran into another runner and we shared stories and took pictures of the rock glacier and spring.
We came upon the stream and I bid farewell, pulled my shoes and socks off and soaked.
With my little jaunt over I joined up with the kiddos at the aid station and we went back to start/finish and
served chili and soup as we made new friends and reunited with old.