I’ve come to the recent realization that if I am truly racing, every race is going to hurt. Now, I don’t mean hurt in a fibromyalgia sort of pain way. But rather, if I am truly racing, whether it is a short race that just plain hurts the entire time because I am pushing so hard, or a long race, which has more ups and downs, but hurts more as my body starts to complain from the mileage; they are both going to hurt. It was just a matter of choosing which hurt.
But let me back up a little bit. I’ve been remiss in posting race recaps. In fact, three races have transpired since my last blog recap. The first was a short 2-mile road race called Dam Good, which I won two years ago and held the current course record for. I raced again after being out with an injury last year. And this year, I won it outright and set a new course record. But, it hurt. I mean, really, really hurt. At least for the 13ish minutes or so while I was racing. Why? Because I was pushing so hard in an all-out effort. But, the result was worth it. And I’m sure I will race it again next year, despite knowing just how much it is going to hurt.
And then race number two, where I toed the line for the Sinister 27k for the first time in three years. I was hoping to return to my happy place of racing mid-distance. But, it was a hot evening and trying to race full-out, well, my body just wasn’t having it. With the fibromyalgia, I don’t regulate my body temperature well. So, I began to overheat, and my heart rate started spiking. When my wrist monitor said 208, I knew my race was over and decided to call it a night.
It was at that point that I realized, I either race fast, and go short, or, I race longer distances and slow down. Slowing down isn’t really in my wheel-house. So, fast it is.
Which leads me to race number 3- the Adrenaline 6k night trail race. Knowing that this brand-new event distance has minimal climbing, I toed the line on Saturday night knowing that I was going to push as hard as I could for as long as I could, and that it was going to be a sufferfest. And, that it was. Seeing the group of girls lining up before the race, most of whom had no ultrasignup scores, so I had no way of knowing just how fast they might be, I decided to sprint at the start and keep running just as fast as I could to see how the other runners would shake out.
Pretty soon, it would be just me and one male runner racing through the dark up the slow and steady uphill. Though the incline was mild, it was relentless for almost two miles and by the time I reached the top and the turn onto a new trail when we merged with all of the other race distances, I was exhausted. There was still about two miles left to go, but I had no idea how I was going to continue running at that point.
Fortunately, the merge with four other race distances meant that suddenly, there were people around me, and fast runners from the other races coming up behind me. I was able to fall into pace with a fellow runner from a longer distance, who interestingly was a friend of mine who had helped me finish the 27k at that very same race three years ago. And so, I mentally latched on to his pace and did nothing but focus on his footfall for the next few miles.
I ended up finishing the race, completely spent, but still in first place for the women. Knowing that my training wasn’t up to par given that I was just 2.5 weeks out from a vein surgery, I’m thrilled with the result. And, I’m hopeful that better training before the next race, and more focused speed work will result in less pain next time. Or maybe, it’s just always going to hurt like that when I truly race. And each time, I will tell myself that I’m not going to ever do this again. But there I’ll be, toeing the line once more, ready for the next sufferfest.
***Special thanks to all of my wonderful sponsors: Aravaipa Running, for putting on three 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.”