Back to back racing is really hard. This weekend, I discovered just how hard it was as I tackled the Blackout 6k and the Big Pine 6k races, both in Flagstaff, Arizona with Aravaipa Running.
Wanting to avoid the usual traffic rush heading north on a Friday, the munchkin and I headed up to Flagstaff on Friday afternoon while my husband worked. The first thing we did when arriving into town was head straight for the Natural Grocery store to stock up on snacks and other essentials for our short trip. With my first race on Friday night at 8pm, we then quickly checked into our hotel and I attempted to take a short nap before the race.
Unsuccessful at sleeping, we decided to head over to the race start early to hang out with friends. While I had been drinking water most of the day, I noticed that I wasn’t flushing it out since reaching Flagstaff’s elevation of about 7,000 feet. So, just before the race started, I chugged another 30 ounces of water and decided to also bring a handheld with me- which I hadn’t done last year. (It was a good thing I did as I needed fluids every few minutes during the race).
Just prior to the race, Jamil- the owner of Aravaipa, did a brief interview with me on camera about doing the double races. I was definitely in it for the challenge, but really, I just wanted the sweet medal for doing two events that weekend. The next morning, I would regret both that interview and that darn medal.
And so, after a brief warm up where I was already feeling the effects of the higher elevation on my lungs, we lined up for the start of the race. I knew that Friday’s race looked to be a bit more stacked than the Saturday morning race, so my plan was to use it as more of a warm up for the following morning. As the horn went off and the race started, I really pulled on the reins and took a few extra seconds on that first stretch that was slightly downhill and un-technical before the climbing began.
At this point, I realized with a quick glance around that I was in 4th place for the women. So, I continued to settle into a more relaxed pace and planned to hang out there for a bit. But, after the climb began, my spinning workouts and all of the climbing work I have been doing kicked in, and I began passing a few people. About half way through the climb, I realized that I was in 2nd place with the 1st place female completely out of sight. It was then that I knew this race was going to hurt: really, really hurt.
The trail conditions were super dusty that night, making visibility with a headlamp difficult. Not wanting a repeat of my fall from a month ago (where my knee is still bruised and sore), I vacillated between not wanting to take a header, but wanting to hold onto that second place spot. In the end, I just decided to go for it and proceeded to race full-out until I had nothing left to spare. After what seemed like an eternity, I crossed the finish line, still in that 2nd place.
Normally, I hang out at the finish line for a while after my races. But, knowing that I had another 6k race at 7:45 the next morning, I needed to get both myself and the munchkin fed and to bed. So after some fun on the podium, we headed out to grab a quick bite at Chipotle.
Despite getting to bed around 10, I was still too amped from the race. I tossed and turned most of the night, getting just a few hours of precious sleep before it was time to head out for the next race.
The second I rolled out of bed, I knew that I was in trouble. Despite being up half the night in the bathroom because of the water I had been drinking, I was horribly nauseous- probably due to some dehydration and low electrolytes. And it was then that I started to really regret that interview, and that darn medal. I didn’t want to race, I didn’t feel like racing, but how could I not race after being filmed saying I was doing the double?
Not able to stomach any food, I was finally able to force a few Honey Stinger chews into my mouth just prior to the race start and gulp some water down. This time, in addition to bringing my handheld, I also tucked some more chews into the pocket knowing that I might bonk, even on that short 4 mile race
And before I knew it, there I was again toeing the line for the second time in under 12 hours. This time, I promised myself that I would take it easy, and hoped that I wouldn’t be forced into racing harder than I wanted to. Fortunately, a couple of fast ladies took off at the start and I was happy to just let them go. I allowed myself to hike most of the uphills and tried to enjoy myself just a bit despite the nausea and constant cramping in my abs.
It was a bit of a suckfest, but it was over pretty quickly, and it only took me a few minutes longer than the night before. And I got my double-down medal too.
But I did learn a valuable thing about my racing- I just can’t race two events full out and back to back like that. I need more recovery time. So despite the super-cool medal, for me, next time, I’ll stop at one… And this will go into effect right after my back to back to back races next month in Vegas.
Final results: Blackout 6k- 2nd Female, 39:57
Big Pine 6k- 9th Female, 42:49
***Special thanks to all of my wonderful sponsors: Aravaipa Running, for putting on two great races; 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 the brutal sun while I train. And to my husband, son, and parents, for being a constant support.
*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.”