Running for Heifer

Arkansas Cycling & Fitness.

So… it’s not a REAL adventure until there’s BLOOD, right?!?

It began for me with a field trip to the Heifer Ranch in Perryville, AR on Friday with my Spanish I students. We toured the Global Village, visited the animals, milked a goat, and watched a video followed by a discussion of what exactly is Heifer International.

My second blue-eyed baby milking a goat!
My second blue-eyed baby milking a goat!

It was such a gorgeous day! I’ve been taking students to the Heifer Ranch for nearly 10 years, and still my heart was moved repeatedly watching my extremely blessed students learn how to help others in the world less fortunate, but every bit as intelligent, ambitious, and precious…

I sent a text to my heifer girls on the way back, telling them I’d nearly cried three times and was sooo happy we had chosen to run for Heifer! Ashley replied, “You are too cute. šŸ™‚ You mean Russellville doesn’t make you want to cry every time you run it? haha.” ….yeah, she knows me. Lol! But, she also said she understood. We were excited to be running the 20K on Saturday!

We met at 6:00 a.m. to drive to Petit Jean State Park. It was a lovely cool morning. The weather remained fabulous for the entire trek! Dogwood was blooming. The fog shrouded the trees, creating magnificent views as we traveled “the back way” to the mountain from Dardanelle.

We were wearing our super awesome shirts designed and printed by Victorywear! “Heifers Running for Heifer!” Of course Ashley is the only one who hasn’t given birth yet, so we don’t reeeally qualify as Heifers…but in the common (non-farmer) vernacular, it works for us! The shirts with the socks made us STAND OUT and everyone was looking for us, and cheering for us! I’m not above a little attention-seeking behavior on an adventure! We WERE cute!

Ashley, me, Tina, and Terri
Ashley, me, Tina, and Terri

We picked up our packets and received GREAT shirts and an awesome coffee table book! It’s beautiful, and will be a real asset in my classroom.

When the cowbell sounded, we started hoofing it! We took a weird jaunt across the grassy area, jumped a ditch, crossed the road and hit the paved trail for a minute or two. (I love that paved trial at Petit Jean. It’s perfect for bike riding with a nine-year-old!) …then back across the road, down the hill and onto the Boyscout Trail. The trail is labeled “Moderate – Strenuous.” That description is, of courseĀ if you are HIKING it! We were trying to run/jog it! Tina and I had accomplished the 20K last year, and we knew what to expect. “Technical” = “Super Duper Rocky and often Steep!” We expected to walk the most dangerous portions of the trail.

OH WHAT A GLORIOUS MORNING! I felt good. The weather was perfect. Everything was green and flowering, and the birds were chirping and singing… so I had to sing a little too. (Much to the delight of others, I’m sure.)

…and I FELL DOWN! I was trying to talk and run at the same time. I bled a wee bit… but that’s not THE bloody incident of the day! I lost all whining rights in the end. I fell on the wide open, going-downhill, fun part of the trail – within four miles of the start. I rolled back up, and we kept hoofing it! There was a lot of talking and LAUGHING! We were headed for the beautiful stream crossing. The stream was tinkling over the stones, and we were able to tiptoe over the rocks to the other side without major incident, and start hiking it to the top.

Up, up, and up to the buffet. Terri thought I was joking about the buffet… thankfully, I was not! There were donuts and sandwiches and cookies, and soda, and chocolate, and on and on… TERRIFIC spread to reward us for that UPhill after the stream!

We crossed the highway and reentered the BSA trail. We were mostly single file, so I’d turn and check on my girls, and they looked like flowers coming through the woods. Ashley tripped and fell… but, no blood YET. We kept moving. We were being passed (and often re-passed by the folks who had trouble reading the trail blazes), and were passing others. Some were better at rock climbing than others. It was a lot of fun.

We crossed another road, and I was soon overcome. We kept crossing jolly little creeks and moving under magnificent overhangs. At one point, I was compelled to stop and just praise God. That beauty is always there… even when we aren’t. My great big awesome Creator God just makes magnificent look easy! ..because He likes it. We had a ‘CATHEDRAL PAUSE’ and prayed. I had to thank Him for that moment -that we were there with Him in it, feet planted in the midst of His handiwork. My eyes were so full of the beauty around me, I had music in my soul! Later, there was a shoe-tying break, and I burst forth in song:

“Your love is like a mighty fire deep inside my bones / I feel like I could climb a thousand mountains all at once / and I never have to wonder if somebody cares for me / I love The Maker / and The Maker loves me!”

I told my heifers I’d sing to them each time we stopped. Tina claims she enjoyed it, but she never stopped again… unless we were eating or doing triage. OK, so I’m no Chris August!

I ran past a snake. Yes, I did!(…with but a brief pause to hyperventilate and consider turning around to retrace about 8 miles of rugged terrain instead)! My girls didn’t believe me (since I actually did run past it without being FORCED), so they STOPPED NEXT TO IT and looked aroundĀ while I yelled at them. It had poked its wicked little head up to watch us pass!

There was a long section where I kept referring to the next buffet. My team quit listening… but eventually we reached it. YUM…pickles, and jelly beans, and coke, and PB&J, etc., etc. After our banquet, we knew we had only about a 5K remaining. Across the highway, the route contained some of the steepest and rockiest trail at the end. I knew the ladies were tired… my quads were feeling it too. We enjoyed the waterfall views along the way, and finally headed into the last of the trail.

Elevation for BSA
Elevation for BSA

I was trying to stay between Terri and Ashley, who’d not done the 20K with us last year. Within 1/2 a mile of the finish, I heard Ashley cry out. I turned, and she was down. I rushed to her, and she sat up with BLOOD FLOWING DOWN HER FACE, dripping off her nose and chin. I began reassuring herĀ and told her she was ok. I couldn’t immediately determine where the blood was coming from, or if her nose was broken. I dumped my pouch and grabbed Kleenex to staunch the flow. There was a deep gash on her brow. The Kleenex was instantly saturated. Terri opened handi-wipes, and I tried to clean her up enough to see if there was anything else causing the immense amount of blood… just the brow, but it was pumping out SO MUCH BLOOD! Tina got a phoneĀ and called 911. She went up to the road, and they asked how to find her: “I’m wearing a black shirt, pink shorts, and CRAZY SOCKS!” she told them.

Ashley was so calm, and was doing so well! A random hiker shared from his first aide kit, and Terri did the picking and choosing so we were able to patch her up a bit. Another 20K racer stopped to help as well, and he had tape and gauze in his pack. He stayed until he knew she would be fine.

I snapped at some poor woman who came around the bend and started with, “Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness…” -like I do when I see a SPIDER! I told her, “We really don’t NEED your, “oh my goodness!”” -because I didn’t want her to frighten or upset Ashley. It looked scary bad, but she was doing awesome! The lady handed me her bandanna, which WAS useful, and kept trekking … poor lady. I’m ashamed for snapping at her.

The blood was beginning to clot, and I knew Ashley was going to be fine. She was talking normally and making good eye contact. When I determined that she was not desperately injured, and that the wound was under control, THEN I cried for a couple of seconds… they all laughed at me.

A park ranger arrived and asked Ashley, “How’s it looking?” She cracked us all up when she rapidly returned, “I don’t know, I can’t see it from here!” Yay, SHE IS O.K.!!!!

Ashley was determined to finish the race. WE WERE LESS THAN 1/2 A MILE FROM THE FINISH! The ranger said he’d cancel the ambulance, if she insisted. We told her it was fine to stop… Kayla, who we had met earlier, and spent some time with on the trail, came up to us and said she was an ER nurse, and that she’d walk with Ashley. Fabulous -because the heifer wasn’t going to quit!

So, we all hiked our way out of the trail and back onto pavement. Tina was thrilled not to run up the hill to the finish this year! We took our sweet time, and enjoyed the journey. We were just so profoundly thankful that Ashley was able to finish, and that the situation hadn’t been worse. Nothing was broken, she’d never lost consciousness, etc.

A lovely lady cleaned Ashley’s face. We drank a Dr. Pepper, ate a hot dog and a danish, and then headed out to get our girl stitched up… it was certainly EXCITING, but next time, NO MORE BLOOD!

All cleaned up!
All cleaned up!

Once again we received lovely hand-crafted medals! They’re my favorite!

The Community Bicyclist

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The ER nurse we met told us Ashley had about 6 hours to get stitched. We took her to the Urgent Care in Russellville (after a Sonic stop), but they wouldn’t touch her since the wound was on her face! The Dardanelle ER (after an Arby’s stop) was great, however, and she is as good as new now! Three stitches later, she has a SWEET battle scar! …and Honey, she was AWESOME! Not a tear or a grumble!

It was a pretty marvelous Arkansas ADVENTURE! We ran/hiked/jogged/skidded and bled for a phenomenal cause, in the glorious outdoors of the most spectacular state in the world! Woo-Hooo!!!!

We hoofed it for Heifer!
We hoofed it for Heifer!

 

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