I’m super stoked. This weekend, I ran my first race in over 8 months! Capping off last season with the Xterra Black Canyon 10k, the rest of the year has been a bit of a bumpy ride. Major surgery in April kept me sidelined for a while, then PRP for the chronic hamstring tendinosis had me resting again for a few weeks throughout August and part of September. After slowly crawling my way back through a course of physical therapy, gradually and safely building my mileage base, while listening carefully to my body, I finally felt comfortable enough to register for the Frenzy 10 miler at McDowell Mountain Park this past Saturday. I’m not the kind of person who likes to spend cheddar on a race and just go do it as a “training run,” so my intention was to challenge myself and RACE this one. Knowing that I hadn’t run at a hard effort for more than a few short intervals since March, I was a little unsure whether or not I’d be able to sustain a race effort over a long distance, but I was willing to give it a shot.
I’m VERY grateful to experience continued healing in the hamstring, to the point it’s no longer a limiting factor in my running ~ YAY! In addition, over the summer and continuing into the fall, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have learned some priceless strategies surrounding mindful eating and stress management, all which have helped my body make the most of the fuel I’ve been giving it. There is NO DOUBT in my mind, that these strategies have contributed to the healing of my hamstring, as well as my ability to continually ramp up my training as planned (appropriately, of course).
Still, there was that voice in the back of my mind, causing a little self-doubt. I basically just had to tell it to shut the hell up. I set 3 goals for myself on Saturday. One, to finish in under 1:40 (I hoped I could do 10 in about 1:35, but knowing the course always measures long, I gave myself that extra cushion). The second goal was to finish in top 10 females. My final goal was to have FUN, enjoying the return of trail racing season with friends, and that included earning a little time in the post-race beer garden :).
We were blessed with total cloud cover and cool temps for most of the race. Warm enough to go without sleeves, but not too hot. A few sprinkles and wind in the early miles were a little surprising, and luckily it didn’t end up raining any harder. Rick and I planned on running together as much as possible, with the knowledge that each had the freedom to run his/her own race. We started in the top 1/3. I knew I didn’t want to get stuck behind too much traffic, because that usually creates unwanted extra work for me, either in the form of pushing too hard with someone on my heels or working to have to get around people who are pulling me out of my rhythm. I finally found the sweet spot around 3 miles in, when traffic cleared, and I had a good 100 feet or so in all directions. It wasn’t until then, that I actually got into a groove and was able to relax & run my own race. By this point, however, my heart rate was way higher than I’m used to running, hanging steadily in tempo range. I wondered how long I could pull this off, let alone surge anymore in the later miles or pass anyone else! “Oh well,” I thought, “let’s see what happens!” Over the next few miles, I was happily able to hold steady, and I think I passed about 10-12 gals from the 10-mile race, eventually catching back-of-the-packers from the 25k. It felt good to continually pull ahead of others, and throughout the entire race, I was only passed by one gal, who finished about 40 seconds ahead of me. She was a great rabbit for a while :). As expected, I started suffering some at about 8.5 miles, and I knew I was gonna have to turn up the GRIT dial for the final surge. Okay, “surge” is a strong word in this case. It was more like running through wet cement, fighting the urge to puke the last mile! Those rollers and the final climb up through the parking lot almost did me in.
I managed to cross in 1:38 & some change, as 7th female overall, and I thoroughly enjoyed the company of friends in the beer garden afterward! Check, Check, and Check. Another great nugget from the day is that the hamstring held up beautifully as well throughout the entire race!!
For anyone interested in pre-race/race nutrition, here’s the low-down: Breakfast (about 2.5 hours pre-race) was coconut/chia pudding with berries & walnuts, and some bacon. About an hour before the race, I had about 1/2 of an RX Bar. During the race, I sipped Tailwind from my handheld. Feeling like this was a good nutrition strategy, and largely mentioning it so I can refer back :).
It feels really good to be back out on the racing scene again! Looking forward to the next event, as well as a great season of training with friends on our way to CKS 2018!
Run Happy, my friends 🙂