I had big plans for Aravaipa Running’s June 11th races in Flagstaff, Arizona. I was registered for the Big Pine 6k race in the morning and the Blackout 6k race in the evening. In between, I was scheduled to volunteer all day at the remote aid station for Squirrel’s Nut Butter. On top of this, Little Man was along for the ride with daddy out of town. But things didn’t quite go as planned. Still, any day running in the outdoors is a good day…
After an early morning wake up call, Little Man and I headed up to Flagstaff from our home near Phoenix, Arizona. Little Man had never seen me race, so I was putting extra pressure on myself to do really well at these events. But I knew that my asthma might be an issue at the much higher altitude. Still, it was a great test for me prior to my big race up Pikes Peak in August.
And so I lined up for the start of the Big Pine 6k race with much more tension than usual. Little Man stood next to a friend and waited for the countdown to send us off. I was later told that as we began the race, he started yelling that I was in second place and then in first! While this would not last for long, it was thrilling for him to see me at least begin the race in first place.
Shortly after the start of the race we began to climb. Granted, at flatland, this wouldn’t have seemed like much of a climb. But at 7,000+ feet, it was a doozy. As my lungs began to strain to get enough oxygen in, I started to pant. It was then that I heard a man tell his wife behind me to “take deep breaths”. I decided to try it myself and found that it really helped! While I still had to resist the strong urge to start walking, I was able to at least keep moving forward at a slow run.
The rest of the race would continue to be a struggle as I just couldn’t get enough oxygen to my starving muscles. This forced a slower pace than I wanted, but at least it was forward progress. And after what seemed like much longer, I was able to finish the race in just under 40 minutes. Fifth place female- not what I wanted, but I was happy with the result nonetheless.
After a quick change, it was time to head over to the aid station to volunteer for the next 10 hours and recharge for my night race. And while I had a fantastic time volunteering with SNB, the morning’s effort was beginning to take a toll. I could feel that I had pushed myself over the pain cliff, and a flare-up was coming. Though I spent most of the afternoon trying to combat this and get myself in race ready shape again, I knew that it was just too much.
This brings me back to the CAN versus SHOULD discussion from my last blog. I knew that I could pop some pain pills and get myself to the starting line, maybe even podium- and that was where my struggle lay. I really wanted to podium for Little Man. But with hubby out of town, I knew that the aftermath would be bad. And it just wasn’t worth it. So I got in the car and reluctantly dragged us both back down to Phoenix and home where I could rest and recover my body. Knowing when you should or should not line up on race day is one of the most important aspects of racing if you want to have a long and healthy running career. There are always more races to be run and more trails to travel. And with two weeks until my next race, there was much to look forward to.
**Special Thanks to Squirrel’s Nut Butter for keeping me stocked with anti-chafe, healing lube, to Aravaipa Running for putting on such great races, to Acel Compression socks for keeping my feet and legs healthy, and to Honey Stinger for giving me fuel to run. And always to my husband and son who encourage me to reach for my dreams.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free or at a discount. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”