It’s been 9 months since I’ve run over 15 miles. And, I wasn’t even registered for the 26k race at the San Tan Scramble until just before the race start when I decided to bump up from the 17k distance. But, with some big pacing duties coming up next month, I needed to get my mileage up again, so I found myself standing at the start line of the 16 mile race for the third year in a row.
Last year, I had an amazing race, and missed coming in under 3 hours by 21 seconds. This year, I was hoping to better my time by 22 seconds to break that 3 hour barrier. And so, I started the race conservatively as I headed up a slow, gradual climb for the first two miles, knowing I would need my climbing legs later in the race. I’d started the morning with my usual chia seed pudding for lots of great energy, and continued to fuel by grabbing two Honey Stinger chews every other mile. This seemed to work well for me and I didn’t have my usual late-race nausea.
After everyone began to fall into their places on the trail where we would remain for most of the race, I spotted a friend ahead of me that I knew was running a pace slightly faster than my body wanted to at that point. So I latched onto her rhythm, doing my best to keep up and not drift too far behind.
Mile after mile, I pushed the pace, keeping up with my friend ahead and hoping that I could bank enough time to get up and over the dreaded Goldmine climb with enough time to achieve my goal. But, despite feeling relatively good the entire first loop, and with my nagging injuries both staying quiet, I was still 2 minutes behind last year’s pace when I crossed the finish line before heading back out for the final, smaller loop.
I had two choices: crush the final loop to make that 3 hour goal- knowing that it would be a rough, miserable grind, or simply chill a bit, take in the scenery and enjoy the ride on this last loop, letting go of any finish time expectations. I chose the latter. And in doing so, had one of my most enjoyable race experiences yet. I allowed myself to walk more of the hills, savoring the fact that I was healthy again and able to go out and race 16 miles on a whim.
So while this race, and subsequent blog post, is not the most epic or exciting that I have ever done. I’m pretty proud of myself for learning to chill a bit, and enjoy the scenery and race experience a little more than I usually do. And that’s really the point, isn’t it? We do this because we love it, and because it is fun. I need more fun racing in my life, and that’s the plan for 2018.
***Special thanks to all of my wonderful sponsors: Aravaipa Running, for putting on such great races; Squirrel’s Nut Butter, for keeping me chafe free; Honey Stinger for continuing to fuel my adventures, and SolRx Sunscreen, for protecting my skin in the brutal sun while I train. And thank you always 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.”