….and My Story Runs On….
My 2nd 50K is in the books! I finished the McDowell Mountain Frenzy put on by Aravaipa Running. Not sure where to start but will try and make this as short and sweet as possible. I’ll start in reverse with the Ugly and saved my biggest aha moments for the end…….
WARNING: this part contains some material that might gross you out.
The worst part about the whole race which impacted me more than I wanted or expected it to was being on my period (feel free to skip down if you aren’t interested in this 😉 ). Sorry, I know this might be TMI but seriously, this is a real issue for women. I realized too late in the week that it was happening so had no way around it. I don’t eat until I’m hungry when I run in the morning and I can’t take Motrin until I eat so I started out the first few hours dealing with cramping. I hate taking Motrin anyways but knew it would help me. I also couldn’t get control of my heart rate for those first few hours. In addition to dealing with the cramping until I could take some Motrin, I had to deal with no bathrooms. Therefore I had to get off the course so no one would see me. Only women will understand this but I didn’t bring enough products and was torn between not going to the bathroom and holding it OR going and not having a tampon to handle it..this impacted my ability to run so I had to walk more than I wanted to.
Lesson #1: Be more prepared.
- I wasn’t attached to any results for this race as it was a training run but I still wanted to do better than my last one. I finished at 8:19 and my last one was an 8:24. So it’s better but I was really hoping to do it in 7 hours. Issue above impacted me and I’m over it.
- I trained on part of this course but couldn’t do the whole thing. I wish I had. Even though I’ve been doing quite a bit of trail running, the 3 mile climb at about mile 20 did me in. I pretty much hiked most of this way and was hoping to catch up on the downhill…I did a bit but it was a rocky downhill and my knees were starting to bug me.
Lesson #2: Try to run the entire course or talk to more people that have completed it or just be better prepared.
ChiRunning: As my knees started bugging me, I realized that I was over striding which was causing the pain. As soon as I realized I was doing this, I immediately shortened my stride and the pain when away. (In ChiRunning you learn what causes pain and how to address it. You become your own detective). Every time I felt myself getting tired uphill, I realized I wasn’t being efficient and I would start using my upper body. This is one of my favorite techniques for ChiRunning hills.
So much to say here and trying to summarize:
- Before I left for the race, I had a chance to see many of my good friends, my sister, niece and nephew. I was creating the conditions for Chi to flow by relaxing and doing my body looseners but being surrounded by my family and friends was a great way to start! (They started counting down for the start and I had to rush to the start line…this frazzled me a bit but I tried to get back into my “mode”).
ChiRunning: Make sure you are relaxed before you start and get together mentally and physically. Nervous energy serves no purpose and doesn’t help with relaxing your body.
- Shane! He seriously helped me get through several rough spots during the race. He was doing his first 50K. We met earlier this year as his wife used to take boot camps from me at her work. We ran a bit before together in the Javelina Jangover race. We carry a very similar pace so we started together. Unfortunately he had to deal with me griping about my “girlie” issues. We made a deal though. I told him not to wait for me when I had to get off the beaten path to take care of my business. So we ran probably about half the race together in total. We ran the first 6 miles together then we split up…then we found each other at an aid station at mile 12 and ran until I had to go again…then the hardest part of the race came (hilly part) This was the hardest part for me mentally and physically. I was sooo happy to see Shane at the next aid station at mile 22. We fueled up and he carried a great pace downhill and we made up some good time. At the end, my legs were tired and there were some steep up and downhills so he went ahead and finished a bit ahead of me.
Lesson #3 Make a deal if you are running with someone on what you are doing. I wouldn’t have wanted him to wait for me as this was his race too. This could go either way..either stay together no matter what happens or decide it’s your own races and it’s OK to separate if necessary. But have no regrets…if you want to finish the race, do it, with or without your friend. These take a lot of training and time and you have take ownership for your race.
- The trail! McDowell Mountains are one of my favorite spots to trail run. I love our Arizona desert. The trail had a lot of variety.
ChiRunning: One of the many things I love about ChiRunning is keeping my mind occupied with form focuses. Not only is focusing on my form a good way to be as efficient as possible (and injury-free) but when you have a long way to go, being in the present moment helps time go by. I also love doing a running meditation where I am focusing on each sense one a time for a few minutes. So great to hear, smell, see and feel the desert.
- My amazing friends! I could hear people cheering as we approached the finish line. My legs were pretty tired and the last few miles were the technical part of the trail. I told Shane to go ahead! I could hear cheers for him and realized these were my friends! Several of them had done the shorter distances and they waited for HOURS to see me finish! My boyfriend also drove up to see me finish too. The last few hills sucked and I was cursing at this point (well, I had cursed more than once before this point 😉 ). As soon as I crawled over the hill, I could see my friends who were all cheering for me. Elaine was leaning over the fence and handed me a beer….I ran through the finish line, cold beer in hand getting hugs from all my friends. Couldn’t think of a better way to end a race!
Other AHA moments:
- #NeverSayNever this is my new favorite hashtag. I remember saying I would never do a half marathon! I have discovered the art form of running. I love that I can run short or long distances, on road or trail, etc. There is so much to this sport that people don’t realize. I want to enjoy it for the rest of my life and the possibilities are endless..but always remember, it’s your running story! You choose where you want to take your running journey (and coaxing from friends doesn’t hurt either sometimes!)
- I had this thought SEVERAL times….and I signed up for a 50 miler? How the hell am I going to do 20 more miles? As I’ve been told, you just don’t think about this…this is true regardless of distance….I remember wandering this same thing after a half marathon while in preparation for a full marathon…but somehow, and sometimes you just can’t even remember how you do it, you just do it.
- Biggest AHA moment: Don’t downplay your mileage! Up until midweek, I kept thinking, “this is just a training run”. I said that to myself and others several times. Maybe I kept saying it so I wouldn’t get nervous and waste energy…or didn’t want to make it a big deal…but dang it, I finished my 2nd 50K and that’s the 2nd longest distance I have ever ran in my life…so yes, it is a big freaking deal! So don’t downplay your mileage (whatever it is) and celebrate that heck out your finish line!
Thanks to Aravaipa for putting on an amazing event as always and all the volunteers!
(P.S. I am raising money for Girls On The Run for my 50 miler. I’m on the Board of Directors of this amazing organization. The 50 mile run is the day after my 45th birthday. I wish I had this program when I was a kid as I would’ve started running much earlier in my life. Running has changed my life and I want to help as many young girls as possible realize their full potential. Any donation is greatly appreciated!)
From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)