It was Dan’s birthday weekend.  What do you get a guy that has it all already?  You have to improvise…

Luckily, I had some options, since I watch for exciting races and now what’s going on each weekend.  We had talked about Firefly a while back, but didn’t know if we’d be able to do it.

Firefly is a new race. It’s on a local trail that’s really close to home…one that I’ve blogged about before.  This trail and I have a history.  The second loop usually kills my soul.  It’s very technical and usually a bit muddy – well, a lot muddy.  However, it’s beautiful and it’s right by the water and I’m still drawn to it.  So is Dan.

Firefly has many options: dusk 10k, overnight 50 mile, overnight 50k, or dawn 10k.  I knew that I wasn’t up for running there at night, seeing as how I have difficulty with the terrain even during the day. Dan and I are both racing in a couple of big events the next few weeks, so I knew he wouldn’t want to risk an injury.

So, I opted for the dawn 10k.  I decided to get him some fuel, some running gear, and an entry to the race.  Win-win.  I get a run date with my soul mate.

Wow. It was hot. HOT.  We’ve been having some awful weather this summer.  I am convinced that Ohio is a hormone-driven teenager.  And that it hates triathletes and runners.  We’ve had flooding like you wouldn’t believe, and the heat and humidity have been the WORST.

So, we showed up and ran some miles before the race started, since we both need some high miles right now.  It was already hot before 7 am, but doable.

We then ran to the start line. Another group had gone off early and we had passed them on our way to the start.  I was secretly happy about it, since that meant I got Dan all to myself and that we wouldn’t feel the need to push ourselves with the pace.  There was just a handful of us that started at 8:00.  We took off on the road, and then dove into the woods after a little less than half a mile.  It was definitely heating up.

The trail was in really good condition, considering the awful weather we have been having.  Luckily, we were on the north loop, which I think is usually in much better condition than the south loop.  The dusk runners had done the south loop.

It was a bit overcast, but there wasn’t any breeze.  We were dripping with sweat.  I had opted not to carry anything with me, since it was a 10k and usually there is an aid station about half way through.   Oh, the hindsight….

There was an aid station, but only at the 1 mile mark.  This was not good.  Dan and I had run for about an hour beforehand, and, even though we hydrated again before the start, we had lost a lot of fluid/sweat and we were hurting.

We slowed a bit and were talking about the races we had done in the past on this trail.  Races done in the snow, the ice, the rain, and the mud.  I even brought up the very first race we had done here on our anniversary one year.  His father had passed away just days after that race, and that memory still brings me pain like it was yesterday.

As we continued to overheat, and get sweatier and muddier, I thought to myself: “How odd it is that people dress up and go out to dinner for a date….”

You see, this is my favorite kind of date.  Something happens when you run alongside someone else.  The conversation is different.  You bare your soul.  It’s the real you.

When I used to run with my dad, we had the best conversations.  I opened up to him so easily when we were running.  I told him my troubles, and he listened without judgement.  We weren’t just father and daughter, we were runners. Together.

That’s how it feels with my Dan.  This is something that’s ours.  This is woven into the fabric of our being.

We finished the loop and ran over the mat.  I spied the water coolers and made my way over to the tent.  I sat on the ground and drank as much as my stomach would allow.  Then, I drank more.  Dan and I nibbled on pretzel sticks and I was quickly back on my feet.

He then reminded me….we have to to run back to the car.

Firefly, we’ll be back.  I’m thinking dusk and dawn 10k’s.  I don’t think I’ll be ready for a nighttime run there yet.

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.


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