Love can make your stomach turn and heart race. So can running. Once a year, the Southern Arizona Roadrunners celebrates the two simultaneously during the Fine Valentine’s race. Participants have the option of entering the two-loop race as a team, with sweethearts or just friends categories available. A self-proclaimed “B-Race,” the event inspires many fun and clever costumes. Nearly every Disney movie was represented and R2D2 made an appearance as well. Marriage has been proposed, and this year was no exception.
It was 34 degrees, clear, and sunny. The teams were given a baton filled with carnations to hand off after the first lap was completed. A “PDA Zone” was set up for the exchanges, and some couples used it to generate heat on a cold morning. I was running alone, so I was depending on my arm warmers and (non-compression) heart knee socks to keep me toasty.
I was fighting a cold, so I decided to hold back on this race. I started at a moderate-hard pace. Several of my friends who had a 20+ mile trail run planned for the afternoon were volunteering, and it was nice seeing their friendly faces on the course. The first lap was a mix of passing and being passed. The back of one woman’s shirt let me know that he “should have put a ring on it,” and Beyonce’s voice accompanied me for a mile or so. While this is a light “hearted” race, it certainly isn’t easy. The course leads up the ramps of the college football stadium for some thigh-frying fun. I was starting up the ramps as Janet, who ended up snatching the top female spot, blazed down.
I ran through the PDA zone and started the second lap. Several carnation buds that had been shaken loose from their batons were strewn along the course. I had generated enough body heat to feel comfortable, except for my hands which burned from the cold. It seemed like the ramps grew taller the second time around. As I headed down the home stretch, my mind wandered to the next weekend’s run. Maybe I should run the Saguaro Loop. I hadn’t done that in months. Loopy-loo, loopy-loo…
I saw a baton-less woman ahead of me in a blue jacket. She’s too far away, I thought, oh well. Then, just like Lambert the Sheepish Lion watching a wolf drag his ewe-mom away*, something snapped in my head. I had shown no spunk at at the end of my last few races, and I was sick of it. I unleashed what might have been my most ferocious kick ever. I bore down on her with the fire of a thousand suns. I knew that one of the reasons that I was able to run so hard was because I had held back during the race, but it still felt great to experience that surge of power. I passed her and held her off through the finish line.
After the race, I connected with friends, including the “Incredible” Paul and Mo Sheldon. I enjoy discovering how love and love of fitness are intertwined for so many couples. As Mo got to know Paul, she also started to embrace his love of running. They are each other’s biggest support as they race together and plan their vacations around Run Disney events. Mo posted the cutest status update on Facebook and I had to share: “Hehehe, I’m all sorts of giddy, yay!!!! Just got a new pair of running pants. Gotta say, I’m stoked that I’m down a size in pants & they’re fitted!! For a gal with meat on her bones & bodacious curves, that’s never happened, fitted pants!”
I ended up with the 3rd fastest open female time and won several gift certificates. As the winning couples were awarded their prizes, and more PDAs ensued. The race directors did a fabulous job getting the local business to donate prizes for the event. A steady stream of 80’s love ballads filled the air. Free pictures were available on the event’s site. This race is one of my favorites because it does such a great job of paying tribute to the relationships that have been forged and strengthened through running.
Race Data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/271991223
* Laaaaaambert! I grew up watching a lot of Disney cartoons.