I had mentioned this race last week and how I was excited about it–well, it lived up to it all, lol!
Phoenix is either cold (for us) or hot and there’s usually no in between. But on Saturday afternoon, clouds were coming in.
In fact, about two hours before the race started, the wind was pretty bad and several of my friends decided to skip the race as they didn’t want to run in basically a twister. The gusts were super strong, but like one of my friends said, it’s what makes the race Sinister, right?? 😀
I got to the race early to pick up my bib and swag
Swag: Arm sleeves, visor, and finisher’s cup
and my buddy and I hung out with the small crowd of runners. Amongst us, people were chatting how cold it was. I know, I know, us Phoenicians shiver at anything under 60, but it was cold for us, lol!! The wind was giving us a little chill and a sprinkle had started. I had planned accordingly with a long-sleeved and there were others with even more coverage, but I knew that once I started running, I’d warm up. Which was exactly the case.
There was a 9k race (one loop), a 27k race (3 loops), and a 54k race (6 loops). I knew quite a few people doing the 9k, including my BRF, Foxy Jen–I call her that not only because she is a hot mama, but because she’s a fierce fundraiser for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
Foxy Jen and me at the Start 😀
I tried to convince her to upgrade to the 27k but like a smart woman, she declined.
Anyway, the 54k people went first. Then, it was my turn.
Promptly at 7:30 p.m., the race began and I was off. The sun was finishing setting and I settled in behind a guy who seemed to be running at a good pace, which pretty much meant I was running too fast.
I was flying through the rolling hills behind this guy who was essentially lighting and paving/pacing the way for me, until we reached a hill towards the end of the loop (each loop was around 5.6 miles). I saw him start to get away from me on that hill between mile 4 and 5 and as his body dimmed from my view, so did the light. Alone, I realized my light was dim! My batteries were dying!
I finished the loop, passing through the start line and the aid station thinking I could manage with the little light I had, but as soon as I passed the crowds and was back out on the desert, I could tell that it was not going to be easy.
First Loop (Mile 5.6)– 56:20
I had to run with my head down because all I could see was the ground immediately in front of me. My neck started to hurt, my body was already aching, and I knew this was going to be a long loop.
When I reached the aid station that was nicely positioned in the middle of the loop, I stopped for a break. They asked if I needed anything and I spotted a liter of Coke. I took a small cup of the amazingness and continued on. It was then that I realized I could text Foxy Jen for help! She should be finishing her 9k loop and I could just get her light! Luckily, I was in an area with phone reception because she responded that yes, she would definitely hand over her head lamp!
I was approaching the uphill at the end of loop and just told myself to get to Jen. Once I had my new light, I would be able to finish the last loop stronger. I ran carefully, only tripping a few times but never actually having a conversation with the ground.
And finally, after what seemed like forever, there she was. I handed her my light and she handed me hers, and I was back on the trail for the last loop. It was almost 10 p.m. at that point and I knew that I would be finishing, if I was lucky, around 11.
Second Loop (Mile 11.2)–2:01:16
With the new lamp, it was night and day. I was running more confidently but still slow, as fatigue had really set in. My entire body was aching. My arms from using them for balance, my ribs and core from keeping my body upright and steady, and my legs from the rolling hills and pounding.
But I forged on. I knew this was the last loop; I just had to make it to the aid station and I would be almost done.
It seemed to take forever to get there. I was by myself the entire last loop, whereas before, I would encounter other runners along the course. Not this time. When I reached the aid station, it was so nice to see people, lol! I drank a little bit more Coke, grabbed some gummy worms, and said happily, “I’m almost done!”
But I knew the end would be the hardest part with that damn hill. I could feel my calves and shins start to ball up and that worried me. I had been taking salt tablets the entire way and was frustrated I was beginning to cramp. I can’t seem to avoid it!! They never fully came thankfully, as I kept running and telling my brain to tell my legs to shut up.
Finally, I saw the tent lights. I picked up my pace as all I wanted to do at that point was finish. I got closer and closer and then… I crossed, triumphantly, before putting my hands on my knees…lol!
Third Loop–(Mile 16.8) 3:12:47
My official stats:
I’m really happy with how I ran as I went in with very little expectations. I felt strong and felt that my mental game is growing. I was using this as a training run for R2R2R in a few weeks but was worried about running 17 miles with having only a 10 mile training run under my belt. I finished though, albeit extremely achy, lol!!!
I’m still sore two days after and this week will consist of many foam rolling sessions and massages and very little running. To be honest, if any.
If you’re ever in Arizona, you gotta do an Aravaipa race. They are stellar, so well done, and just perfect trail races with many distance options for everyone. Not all of them are night either, lol! Can’t rave about them enough!
–How do you recover from an achy run?
–Is a trail race on your list of to-dos?