With my last two races not going quite as planned, I was hoping for a breakout race where everything lined up perfectly and my recent shift in running longer distances and adding extra strength training, would be reflected. But, with nausea kicking in at just 3 miles, this was a race that almost wasn’t…
The San Tan Scramble 26k started at a brisk 42 degrees. Fortunately, there was no wind to speak of. With gorgeous views and ideal conditions, I was hoping for a great race. But a rough week of work and life meant I was more tired going in than I had hoped for. Still, with several extra long training runs on the Black Canyon Trail with fellow friends training for Aravaipa Running’s BCT 100, I had more training under my belt than ever before.
Training during the winter is particularly difficult for me with my fibromyalgia as the cold makes things worse. But a recent shift in my diet to more plant-based, and extra post-run care of my body meant that I was ready for this race.
Feeling good at the start and wanting a PR from the previous year’s 3:18, I was pushing the pace up the slow steady incline during the first few miles. But a long week and overall fatigue meant this was too much at this point. Nausea kicked in at just 3 miles and I seriously considered just turning around for a DNF. But a few walk breaks and an extra Honey Stinger gel helped settle things and I pulled back my pace for a few miles until I hit my sweet spot. For some reason- around mile 6 of every race, I start to get my legs under me and feel like my race has finally begun. And this is why short races are so difficult for me…
I continued to try to bank extra time knowing that the dreaded Goldmine was ahead at mile 8; a brutal climb that decimated my legs last year. This year, Goldmine was all mental for me as I started talking out loud to psych myself up to push through the pain and just get it done. My fellow runners probably heard things like “suck it up”, “not today”, and “this is my house!”.
And though my legs were toast at the top, I was still able to resume running and finish the last 2 miles of that first loop. Coming into the start/finish line to refill my bottles and head back out, I was 10 minutes ahead of last year’s loop 1 time. But, losing 3 minutes at the porta potty would end up being a big mistake here.
Knowing that loop 2 last year was when the wheels came off the bus, I tried to keep a conservative pace the first 3 miles. But constant glances at my watch, and knowing that I really wanted to get a sub 3-hour time, meant that I was going to need to make a move. With 3 miles to go, I pounded some Honey Stinger chews and picked up the pace.
After 2 miles of 90% effort, I came upon my friend, Raul. I told him I was trying to sub-3 hours the race, and with a quick glance at his watch, he said it would be tight. As he started to sprint for the last mile, I struggled to keep up with him. Huffing and puffing, it was all I could do to hang onto his 7-8 minute pace.
But finally, we saw the finish line ahead. I could see that I was just seconds off from that sub-3 hour goal time. 21 seconds to be exact. But, I had set an 18-minute PR, and I just couldn’t be disappointed in that. Next year though, that sub 3-hour will be mine!
And as a final addendum, 3 miles of full-out effort at the end of the race lead to immediate calf cramping once I finished. My Acel compression socks had kept any discomfort at bay while I raced, but there was only so much they could do when my body desperately needed salt. Patty came to my rescue with a cup of Pickle Juice and after downing that, and a few pickles, I was all good again.
So, after feeling like I have turned a corner in my training and racing, I’m looking forward to what the future holds and to sharing my adventures with you. Thank you to everyone for your amazing support and encouragement. I could not do any of this without you!
***Special thanks to all of my wonderful sponsors: Aravaipa Running, for putting on yet another amazing race; 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, son, and parents, for being a constant support and sounding board for all of my crazy running talk.
*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.”