Running should be fun, right? Sure, there are days when we don’t feel like getting up at 3am to beat the heat on that early morning trail run. But for the most part, we run because we love it. The same is true of racing. So when I neared the Javelina Jangover 7k night trail race, and just wasn’t looking forward to it, I knew I had to make a change.
Maybe it was the heat, forecasted to be 106 that day. Or maybe it was the 13+ mile race up Pikes Peak that gave me a taste of that mid-distance trail again. And I missed it. So with only the 13 miles at Pikes, and a 16-mile road (ugh) relay that ballooned due to a last minute drop, I decided to jump into the 25km race at Jangover with almost no distance training under my belt. I was hoping my body wouldn’t punish me too badly.
While not quite 106 that day, it was nearly 100 degrees and I knew that heat would be a huge factor in the Javalina Jangover races (held on some of the same trails as the Javelina Jundred- both 100k and 100 mile races held in late October where I pace and crew each year). So I hydrated like never before prior to the race. And, I ate, a lot. Starting Thursday night. I ate as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted, including two lunches on race day. Then I stopped eating about 6 hours prior to the 8pm race. Just a granola bar and bread with peanut butter would need to tide me over until my pre-race gel. There was no way I was making the eating-too-close-to-the-race mistake again.
And so, with more pre-race excitement than I had seen in a long time, I toed the line, ready to see what my body would give me that night. I went out conservatively, knowing that the first half of the course was a slow uphill climb. Ready with my full pack of water to tackle the 8.5 miles until the only aid station on the route. I had an A, B and C goal in mind. With C being just to finish without ending up in the ER. By about mile 4, despite my hydration efforts, mild nausea set in and my hip flexors were already angry at me. But I kept trudging on and noticed, amazingly, that I was on pace for my B goal, maybe even my A goal.
It’s amazing to me that you can be racing with 120 other people, and go 30 minutes without seeing a single soul. But that’s how the middle section of this race went. And that meant I was on high snake alert. I knew they were out there- the McDowell Mountain trails are full of them. But fortunately, they stayed hidden for me that night.
Coming out of the aid station after filling my bladder and chewing some candied ginger, I was feeling pretty good due to the shift to a long, slow downhill for the second half of the course. If I needed a walking break, I walked. But only for a short burst, then it was back to work. And while the nausea wouldn’t go away, and neither would the hip flexor and now IT band pain, it was all manageable. You’re nauseous, okay, drink more water. Your hip flexors hurt, take smaller steps. But keep moving!
And finally, those grand lights of the finish line came into view and I knew I had done it. My C goal, my B goal, and within a minute of my A goal time- finishing the 25k race in 2:46. Without the distance training, without my hip strengthening exercises (I really need to resume those clam exercises), but with a huge smile on my face. I was having fun. I was in my happy place again.
***Thank you to my wonderful husband, who always supports me in whatever I am doing. To my beautiful son, who always encourages and cheers on mommy to bring home a trophy. And to my amazing sponsors- Aravaipa Running – who puts on the best trail races, Squirrel’s Nut Butter – who keeps me chafe free, Acel Compression – who helps me recover so I can train harder, and Honey Stinger – who keeps me fueled. And thank you to all of you- for continuing to read and comment on my blog. Your encouragement has been amazing!
*This blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care worker.