It was our 17th anniversary, so, naturally, we went to a trail race. What can I say, we are of like mind, my Dan and I. It just so happened that the race fell on the right day, so off we went to Mohican.
The Cold Pricklies is the anti-thesis of the Fuzzy Fandango, which happens in early November. Both races benefit Camp Nuhop for kids, and it’s a wonderful organization to support. Instead of being inside Camp Nuhop, we would be outside by the beach today.
These pictures will never do justice to the beauty we experienced yesterday.
Just a couple of weeks ago, it was much warmer than usual for this time of year. I was thinking that, if the trend continued, Cold Pricklies would wind up being a misnomer.
But, as always, Ohio didn’t disappoint. It was definitely chilly-somewhere in the high 30’s-at the start of the race. We parked the car and walked about 1/4 mile to packet pickup. We hadn’t run a trail race in over a year, so I felt rusty. It had been so long, I had forgotten how to be nervous before the start of a race.
We headed into a clearing and there was a table set up with individual ziplock baggies that had our names on them. Everything we needed was inside. We quickly found our stuff and headed back to the car to get ready.
As usual, we took too long getting ready. As we began our walk back to the start line, we bumped into a friend, Meghan, that was supposed to leave in the wave right before us. She had her trunk popped open and was getting some things together. We stopped to chat and then quickly realized that we were cutting it close.
With sudden urgency, we walked through the tall pines and back toward the beach area. We could hear the wave being called through the trees, “If you are leaving at 8:06, step up to the mat!”
“Shoot!” Meghan was supposed to be in that wave. Then she quickly added, “Well, it’s chip timed, so I start when I start.” Yes, true, no need to be alarmed. She trotted ahead quickly.
We were supposed to be in the 8:08 wave, so we picked up our pace a bit, too. With the new guidelines, we were to be sent off in small waves a couple of minutes apart. We would probably only see a handful of runners here and there on the course, but there were some switchbacks and loops, so at least we would see that there were other people out there with us.
This was a sight that almost brought tears to my eyes. Every runner knows that love-hate feeling when you spot a portable toilet….need I say more? This is a sight that I haven’t seen in over a year with no racing. I had to take a picture, of course.
Meghan wound up leaving with us, which was awesome. We spent the morning chatting and catching up. At different points in the race, we both said, “This is going too fast!” It truly was such a beautiful day for a race, that it felt like time was moving faster than it should.
It stayed cool and crisp for a bit, but, as any runner knows, Mohican elevation has a way of warming you up fairly quickly. The ascents on the first loop were tough, but on the second loop, the fatigue multiplied considerably.
Hills on hills, with hills on top. I just dug in, head down, because I didn’t want to see the flags so far away on the switchbacks.
We did have 2 or 3 really nice downhills, however, and I tried to take full advantage of them on both loops. On the second loop, toe pain limited me more than I would have liked.
The trail was in perfect condition, the trees were beautiful, there were smells of leeks in the air, and the sun peaked in and out which was nice. I honestly couldn’t have imagined a more wonderful place to be that morning.
The volunteers at the aid stations were friendly and it was so nice to experience that again. It had been so long. The other runners on the course were supportive and amazing, and I realized how much I had missed the feeling of community.
At mile 17, we stopped so Meghan could take a picture of us. I knew in my heart there was no place I’d rather be at that moment than on that trail with the love of my life. Despite the pain in my feet and legs, it was amazing.
The last section, thankfully, was flat. Meghan decided to push a little at the end and set off ahead of us. I tucked in behind Dan, well into my pain cave at this point. I focused on the ground and on my cadence so I could keep up with him.
As we neared the finish, I looked down at my watch and realized we could finish under 5 hours. So, I picked up the pace and called to Dan. We came around the last corner and finished together, literally with a second or two to spare.
Meghan had told the announcer it was our anniversary (such a sweet friend), so they announced to everyone it was our 17th. A loud cheer erupted from the finishers already enjoying pizza and beer. It was fantastic.
Once we had gotten some food and sat down at a picnic table, I let my tears go. Tears of joy, fulfillment, happiness, and love. Love for my husband, for the trees and the trail, for awesome trail friends, for getting back to racing, and for the sport of running.
We enjoyed the campfire for a while, and then headed back to the car. It was still a bit chilly, especially now that we had stopped running. We changed into dry clothes and began the journey back home.
This was a perfect day.
But, after those hills….tomorrow is going to be interesting.