Today: Will run for chocolate and flowers.

Even if they’re possibly expired and carnations, respectively.

On Saturday, my domestic life partner and I kicked off the Valentine’s Day romance by nearly collapsing a lung or two.  That may have been an overstatement.  Anyway, nothing says I love you quite like Spandex, sneakers and snot rockets.  As we drove north to Bradford for their 20th annual Valentine’s Day race, Nick and I hoped the course would be flat.  Especially me, whose Spirit Name at the time was Dances With A Total of Three Runs Since the Marathon a Month Ago.

As a fellow runner aptly pointed out, Bradford is part of Haverhill, and Haverhill has the word hill in it.  In other words, we should have been wearing hiking boots and wielding ice picks.  Though this race had a few factors working against it (the freezing temperatures, the hills, and the random icy patches), I had a ball!

The race is open to individuals or teams, with overlapping 5 mile and 6k courses.  Nick ran the 5 miler, and I ran the 6k whilst trying to do math in my head and determine what that equals in miles.  I am not kidding when I say the entire course is uphill, save for the last 100 yards or so.  I went into this race figuring I’d come out with a good gauge of where my body is post-marathon.  I worried I had broken a tinsel-sized bone in my right foot, or worse, lost all fitness in the month I’ve spent sitting around like an amorphous blob.  Fortunately, my wee foot feels perfectly fine and (this calls for an exclamation mark!), I haven’t forgotten how to run.  How awesome!

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] This was arguably the most difficult course I’ve ever run, but the change of scenery (not to mention, all that love in the air) helped move things along.  Bradford itself is positively charming.  We passed colonial and Victorian houses with snow covered lawns, an idyllic town common and the soaring steeple of the church that hosted race registration.  I felt like we had stepped back in time (minus the Spandex, which I don’t think existed in 1672).

After checking in at registration, we received bright red water bottles, long sleeved technical tees (modeled by Nick below), a box of chocolates (you’re speaking my language, people) and carnations handed to us by the most adorable Girl Scouts on the planet.  We didn’t stick around after the race, but they were serving piping hot bowls of stew from the church’s kitchen.  It was a wholesome experience, through and through.

I loved running as a team.  It felt incredible to run fast and not think about pacing, to take one hill after another, and to cruise towards the finish with a big ol’ grin on my face.  Dear running, I’m baaaaa-aaack.

Also On Tap for Today:

What will you run/walk/swim/canoe for?

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