After weeks of colds, the flu and other craziness, I was anxious to race the Pass Mountain 25km race on Saturday. This is the second race in the Desert Trail Runner series with Aravaipa Running, but my first this year due to illness. And after tweaking my neck earlier in the week, trying muscle relaxers for the first time, spending the night throwing up said muscle relaxers, and only one day of proper fueling, I knew that it might be a rough day.
And a challenge it was. But after months of racing in the dark to escape the summer heat, this was my first daytime race in a while, and the weather was perfect for a gorgeous race with highs in the low 80s.
With this race, the real work doesn’t begin until about 9 miles in when you begin your climb. This meant that keeping a reserve over the first half of the race would be key. And so, thanks to some advice from a friend who has run Pass Mountain several times, I kept my speed in check during the first 6 miles or so, feeling great at this point.
But after the first hour mark, my energy really started to lag as I was reminded about my poor fueling during the days before the race. So I accelerated my mid-race fueling and increased the pace of my Honey Stinger gels, hoping that my stomach wouldn’t rebel on me. Fortunately, it didn’t, and though it took about 10 miles and 3 gels, I finally got my legs under me- right as I was making the huge climb. Rocky and technical, this mountain was nowhere near runnable for me at this point. So I spent several miles hiking as fast as possible and conserving my fluid for later in the race. There may have been some muttering at this point as well.
This was the first long daytime race where I decided to run without a hydration pack and only use handhelds. But no aid during the final 8 miles of the course would make this a challenge. Still, I discovered that I really need a lot less water than I ever thought. And, for the first time in a long race, I had absolutely no stomach issues. Avoiding sugar, fruit, alcohol, caffeine and dairy in the days prior to the race seemed to be working.
Once I hit the top of the mountain, I had hoped to begin cruising on the descent to make up some lost time. But rocky single track with sharp drops that would be really, really bad if I caught a toe, slowed me down. It wasn’t until the final 2 miles that I was able to open things up again and cruised into the finish line with a final time of 3:11 and 15.55 miles run. Not what I had hoped to do, but given the week leading up to this, I was thrilled to be done and have a solid start to my racing series with Aravaipa Running.
Key learnings from this week: My race begins 3,4, even 5 days before the actual start. How I fuel in the days prior and how I hydrate makes all of the difference. I don’t tolerate fruit before long runs. But everyone is different. The key is to figure out what works best for your body.
***Special thanks to all of my wonderful sponsors: Aravaipa Running, for putting on an amazing race, as usual; Squirrel’s Nut Butter, for keeping me chafe free; Honey Stinger, for keeping me fueled; Acel Compression, for keeping my legs, feet and calves healthy; and SolRx Sunscreen, for protecting my skin in this brutal sun. And to my husband and son- thank you for always supporting me in everything I do and for my hubby, spending his Saturday cleaning the house for his own birthday party. Happy Birthday my love!
*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.”