Sunday, July 16, 2017

Race #3: Hearts 911 Trail Race

Race Website:
Race Location: Flagstaff, AZ
Race Distance: 10km (actually 6.4 miles)
Finish Line Time: Unknown
Strava Time: 1:42:30
Elevation Gain: 813 ft
Max Elevation: 7,402 ft

This was not an easy race by any means.

When I originally signed up for this race, I signed up for the almost-11 miler. It seemed like a good idea at the time, especially because it's just over half of what I will be running at the beginning of next month. However, a number of factors inspired me to drop down to the 10k once I reached registration this morning. I ran this race pretty slowly, so that's one of the reasons I'm glad I dropped down.

What was tough about this race?

1) The Elevation

Flagstaff is "at elevation." What this means for those that don't speak in runner parlance terms is that it is higher than usual for someone like me, who lives in Phoenix. Flagstaff sits at an elevation of just under 7,000 ft compared to Phoenix's just over 1,000 ft. What does this mean for somebody who runs mostly in Phoenix? Its makes running harder. See this article for more on that.

The first mile or so of the run was difficult until I felt myself get into a rhythm. I actually felt pretty good until I landed the wrong way on a rock, knocking myself off balance, which started the first twinge of discomfort in an old injury (see #3 for more).

2) The Terrain

Lots of rocks, a bit of mud, and a section with a lot of sand. All of these can make it harder to run.

Some parts had some great tree cover, but other parts were in the scorching sun.

3) An Old Injury

This was the worst part for me. There is literally nothing like finding a steady (if slow) pace, feeling good, and passing people who pushed themselves too hard too fast, only to have to slow down because you land the wrong way and your body is threatening to put you on crutches if you push it.

A little over 2 years ago, I was running my second race ever in Sihanoukville, on the coast of Cambodia. I was used to training on a flat road, and the roads in this town were rolling - up a hill, down, then up another hill, and so on. I was feeling good, really pushing myself because I was running with friends, when my left hip flexor started to feel a bit of discomfort. I pushed on, thinking my body would eventually adjust to the hills - after all, this was a 10k, nothing too long. 4 kilometers in, I could barely walk, let alone run, and when I hit the halfway point, they had to take me back to the start like in an ambulance, tears streaming down my face from both the pain and the embarrassment. I ended up on crutches for the better part of a week - I had strained my hip flexor.

Today, the first bit of discomfort started again about halfway through, after I bombed down a hill and landed/slide a bit on a rock, so even though my lungs felt fine, I slowed down to a walk. I do not want to injure myself again, especially when I can recognize the signs as they happen. I tried to run again a few times, and even managed some uphills without any discomfort, but downhills were getting really painful.

I'm currently still in a bit of pain, but I walk, so I'll consider that a win.

4) Yesterday's Hike

Yes, you are supposed to rest before a race - what runners call "a taper." Yes, I decided not to do that. And yes, I paid for it. My legs felt a bit like jell when I woke up this morning, but I pushed through anyway. I knew I was going to have trouble today when my legs wouldn't stop shaking halfway back up the trail yesterday.

I don't regret it though. I hiked a bit down the Grand Canyon yesterday and it was glorious, beautiful, and breathtaking. I wouldn't trade that for anything. I haven't been before, and I don't know what I'll get the chance to go again.


My takeaways:

This race was great, but difficult, and I'm glad I did it.

Stay tuned for entries about my first 2 races, and maybe even an entry about why I run.

No comments:

Post a Comment