This was a Bucket List race of mine. For the past 4 or 5 years, Matt and I have known about this race. And for the past 4 or 5 years, this race has fallen on the same weekend as the state cross country meet, which meant Matt would be out of town (already).
Why was this race such a big deal? Why, because it just so happened to be the one and only race that takes place in Silver Dollar City – our happy place! I’ve been getting emails about the event every year, and when I saw that it was the weekend AFTER state cross country, I made Matt immediately sign us up.
I think the coolest part about the race – besides being in SDC, of course – is that it takes place at 10 PM on a Friday night during the Christmas season when all 4 million of their Christmas lights are twinkling as you run through.
However, the timing of the race was also the worst part about it. Packet pickup ended at 9 PM, which meant we needed to get to Branson before then. Branson is a 4 hour drive from St. Louis, and with Matt and I both not able to leave work until 3:15, my 30 minute commute, having to pack up the car, and dealing with rush hour traffic, we knew we’d be cutting it close.
We left the house at 4:30 PM, picked up MacKenna, picked up Matt’s mom who also came down and ran the race with us, picked up some Jimmy John’s for the car, and were finally on our way around 5. Of course, MacKenna then decided she wanted to cry and fuss for the first 2 hours of the trip until we pulled over, gave her a diaper change, and fed her a bottle, causing another 10 minute detour. Luckily, we called ahead to make sure they would still let us pick up our packets if we were a few minutes late.
We finally pulled into the parking lot at 9:20 PM. Matt’s mom ran in to the park to pick up our packets, while we got MacKenna bundled up and into the stroller. We had plenty of time to spare after getting into the park, but no t-shirts to show for it. Bummer.
This was Matt’s first race in a very long time. He’s been dealing with some lingering chronic injuries that have caused him to refrain from running for a few years, or at least running more than a mile at a time. He’s been going to a chiropractor lately who has helped him improve immensely. (He has an “extra” vertebrae – his sacrum never fused completely, so he deals with a lot of instability in his pelvis region.) I promised him that I would run this race with him, letting him set the pace.
But, man, am I competitive! I’ve never realized how hard it is for me NOT to race. I ran a few races last year while I was pregnant that I couldn’t race, but I think it was easier to hold back then. It was really hard for me to not try to chase and pass people. While I told Matt that he could set the pace, I found myself picking it up, trying to pass as many people as I could because I just didn’t want certain people to beat me. I think I pushed Matt a little harder than he wanted, but he was a trooper, albeit a little sore the day after.
This was also a pretty mentally tough course. Branson and SDC are known for their hills. It is the Ozark “Mountains”. While the race started and ended in the park, the majority of the race was run in the parking lot. There were several steep, long hills and several switch backs through the parking lot. There were times where you’d be running, expecting a turn up ahead, only to realize you had to go farther before you were able to turn. It was totally frustrating.
When we finally came back into the park for the last mile, it was like a dream come true. Something I had wanted to do since the day I stepped into Silver Dollar City for the first time. This was my “Run Disney”. Running through their lights in a virtually empty park was amazing! It was so peaceful and calm.
And I had the best running partner ever! I have several running friends that I love running with, but Matt is by far my favorite! We have similar paces and I could talk to him for hours! We push each other and test each other’s limits. I cannot wait until he can go all out and race with me – SOON!
We were tired (it was almost 11 PM) and sore (can you say HILLS?!) when we finished, but it was worth every second! Especially when we were able to drink their hot chocolate (the BEST hot chocolate) and eat delicious sugar cookies afterward! We finished just under 24 minutes – not too shabby for someone who hasn’t raced in awhile (Matt) or trained very seriously lately (me).
And MacKenna got to walk the race with her Grandma. She was awake the entire race and LOVED looking at the lights! I can’t wait until Christmas season gets into full swing to see her reaction to the trees and lights!
Kenna Update: She’s still doing well. No changes in her eye, but we’ve gotten more used to it now, so it doesn’t kill me to look at her every day. (Sad, but true.) She is still wearing the eye patch for 2-hours a day and will continue to until she gets function back in the nerve/muscle. This is so that her brain doesn’t decide to shut off her vision in her bad eye since she is seeing double (we patch her good eye). Hoping we will get some idea of where to go from here and what we can do to improve her condition. Praying to see changes in her eye soon! Thanks again for all the thoughts and prayers!