On Thursday afternoon, two days before the Javelina Jangover 25k event, I felt the migraine coming. And despite my best efforts, I was up at 2 am doing everything I could to stay out of the ER. If you’ve never had a migraine before and experienced the blinding pain, light sensitivity, dizziness, and nausea that eventually leads to vomiting, you are lucky. But, by avoiding pain meds that I knew I would throw up anyway, I was able to keep from getting too dehydrated and kept myself out of the ER for the first time.
Friday was spent in bed; the pain was still there but manageable. Still, I wasn’t able to eat much. I just kept praying that the pain would be gone by Saturday morning, so I could at last contemplate racing. And, thankfully, it was. I woke up on Saturday with no pain and decided to see how the day went before making a final decision. After a solid nap and some good fueling, I decided that the race was still a go.
So, with improper rest and fueling, I toed the line at the Javelina Jangover 25k race in the McDowell Mountains with Aravaipa Running. It had been two years since I’d run this race, since last year at this time, I was in a running slump. And I knew that before the migraine, I wanted to beat my course PR of 2:46. That goal no longer seemed in the cards, but I still kept it on the back burner just in case.
Because the race had been moved back a few weeks, it was cooler than in previous years, mid 80s at the start, which felt fantastic after a summer of training in the brutal Phoenix heat. I took a relaxed pace and continued to pull on the reins, tucking in comfortably behind some runners and cruising on the steady uphill for the first 4 miles. But then my abs started to cramp, and I knew I needed a walking break. Lack of proper fueling for this race was starting to show.
At this point, I decided to follow the lead of a friend of mine who is a beast at fast walking the uphills, so she can save her legs and run the flats and downhills faster. And that’s just what I did. Run the flats and downs, power walk the uphills. And as the miles ticked off, I realized that this approach was working, and I was not far off my PR pace, even with a more-technical first half. I also kept an eye on my heart rate and forced myself to walk or slow down whenever I got over 160 bpm. This race really begins at the aid station at 8.5 miles, Jackass Junction.
So, I continued with the plan to take it easier until Jackass and then see how I felt. I drained my water, fueled every mile with a couple of Honey Stinger chews, and began to sip my pickle juice every other mile or so. The cramping went away, and I pressed on.
As I rolled into Jackass Junction, I quickly filled my pack with water, knowing that I would need the full bladder if I had any shot of going after my PR. And as I took off from the aid station, my legs and body told me they were ready, it was time to move. After spending two days in bed with a debilitating migraine, and battling fibromyalgia pain almost every single day, it felt amazing to start to open it up and just let my body do what it wanted to do. Miles started clicking off and I started passing people. A glance down at my Garmin showed me that if I could run those last 6.5 miles in under an hour, I would get my PR. But that was a tough pace to ask of my body after the week I’d had. So, I just took it mile by mile, step by step. Drink more water, pickle juice now, have a few more chews… And the whole time, I was smiling from ear to ear and singing songs in my head because I was just so happy to be pain free and running one of the best races of my life. I’d never felt stronger. I’d never felt faster.
About a mile from the finish line, I knew that the PR was mine. It had been the race of a lifetime, and I would get to celebrate with taking 3 minutes off of my fastest time on the Pemberton loop. Finishing the race in 2:43 as 7th Female.
There are days when everything just seems to come together. Last night was one of those for me. And it’s then that I remember why I love this sport so much; and why I continue to push through difficult days, and brutal training runs- to get to an experience like last night, where everything just comes together, and you feel free.
***Special thanks to all of my wonderful sponsors: 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; Trail Sisters for motivating and encouraging me every day. And a special than you to Aravaipa Running for another fantastic event- I’m excited to continue the year as one of your new Community Leaders. And thank you as 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.