Not a day goes by where I’m not physically in pain. And while it is not something that I talk about much, my Fibromyalgia is a daily struggle and greatly limits how I can train and what I can do. But I know from experience that most of us have something that we struggle with- be it physical, mental or emotional pain. And running can be a lifeline. Truly, the mental health benefits of a great trail run are immeasurable.
Last year before Aravaipa Running’s Adrenaline night race, I’d recently received word that my mother had Breast Cancer. On top of my father having Rheumatoid Arthritis, Leukemia, and Lymphoma, this was just too much. And so, I wore black for the race. Not Breast Cancer pink. Black. And while both of my parents are doing really well right now, and have recently moved to Arizona to live nearer to us, I still chose to wear black last night to remember their constant fights, and to remind myself that we are all fighting something.
During last year’s Adrenaline 10k race, I ran my heart out. But, during an early uphill section of single track, I got stuck in the single-track train, and was unable to finish under an hour, which was my goal time. 1:00:03 would haunt me for a year. This year, I was going for a 4 second PR and nothing was going to stop me.
A recent face plant on the trails had left me with a stiff and sore knee, and I was still battling that dang hamstring. So, I knew I had my work cut out for me.
Determined to avoid the single-track train, I went out fast, probably too fast. But, I was able to run the uphill section at my own pace. And, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that for the first time in 2 months, I was running completely pain free. Honestly, I think the fall jostled my hamstring into submission.
On I pushed up the relentless climbs: and the more I suffered, the more I thought about Cancer, and how much I hate that word. And how amazing it is to be able to run, and run pain free at that.
Because of my recent fall, I knew that I was being overly cautious on the downhill. But, I really did not want a repeat of last week. So, I took my time coming down the mountain while trying to maintain a good pace, hoping that I could make up the time on the flats.
Once I hit the bottom of the mountain, I had 3 miles of relatively flat, un-technical trail. And, I would need to stay in a sprint for the rest of the race in order to hit my time goal and PR. And so I went, jumping over baby snakes and kangaroo rats that were startled by my headlamp, and forcing myself to go as fast as possible without puking.
Finally, the finish line was in sight. And with one glance down at my watch, I realized that I would need all all-out final burst to make it. With a loud yell, I pushed up the hill, came around the corner and glanced at the clock. Seconds to spare, I lunged across the finish like a track star trying to edge out the competition. Had I made it? The timer said I was two seconds over, but I would need to wait for the timing system to refresh to see what my chip said. And finally it was in- 59:58. I had made it with 1 second to spare. I had gone out for a 4 second PR and achieved a 5 second PR. Amazing that a 10k trail race can come down to one or two seconds. But for me, it certainly did.
I have no idea how I will improve on last night’s race. But I’ll be back next year to try. And I’ll be wearing all black.
Running on the trails has given me a wonderful release from my pain. And the friendships that I have developed along the way have been incredible. Trail Therapy sessions with my buddies are some of the highlights of my week. And I can’t wait to get back out there again. I hope that each of you is able to find some relief from whatever you face on a daily basis. Finding great friends to share miles of trails with can make all the difference.
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In the Adrenaline 10k Trail Race, 203 people started, 130 women ran, I finished 9th Place Female.
***Special thanks to all of my wonderful sponsors: Aravaipa Running, for putting on a great race; Squirrel’s Nut Butter, for keeping me chafe free, or healing me when I stupidly forget to lube my legs; Honey Stinger, for keeping me fueled; Acel Compression, for keeping my legs, feet and calves healthy; and SolRx Sunscreen, for protecting my skin in the brutal sun while I train. And to my husband, son, and parents, for being a constant support and sounding board for all of my crazy running adventures.
*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.”