This race is the one that brought back some confidence to my feet, heart and mind. You don’t know about the race that sucked it right out of me down to my lungs and bones because I haven’t written it yet. I promise to, it’s important to see all the sides of racing but it’s not time yet.
It is time to review State 17: Arizona. I picked Sedona because that’s where Grandpa Sprenkel lives and he invited me. Also because it is a breathtakingly beautiful place.
The race was scheduled for a Saturday morning. This is not unheard of in the running world (St. Jude Half another favorite that’s hosted on Saturday) but it is a little unusual. I was carb loaded from the pasta the night before and after all that strategizing, we (my cheer team and I) went to bed with a pretty good plan for the morning. There were parking lots with shuttles to the start but after the fiasco with state 15 shuttles, I’m a little wary of them.
We went to Starbucks first thing because it was on the way (they’re on the way to anything aren’t they?) for coffee and my pre-run meal of oatmeal, dried fruit, nuts and brown sugar (about half of each packet). This is routine for me on race days no less than two hours before the start -either made at home or from Starbucks. With a small cup of coffee and water on the side.
Next we drove to make sure we could find a parking spot. Then, our plan kind of fell apart. We found one but still had so much time before the 9am start. I didn’t want to hang out in the cold at the start, and the cheer squad didn’t want to stay in the car. So we hiked to a local breakfast diner and Grandpa got some food while I used the bathroom more than twice and continued to hydrate and try to stay warm.
After leaving Nick’s Cafe and seeing the long line of cars in the single-lane that the shuttle would be using, we made the decision to just walk to the start line. I’m guessing it was maybe half a mile. I was still shivering and my teeth were a chattering but the walking definitely helped (so did my moms calf-length down coat that she thoughtfully and selflessly gave to me in regular Davi fashion. Thanks mama 🙂 ).
We made it to the start, hiking up the final hill I would have to climb to the finish, in time to see the marathoners get started. They were on the same out and back course I was, except their out is twice as long. From the preview drive we took Friday, I knew it was a doozy and hilly race. But I took all the pressure off myself when I decided I would enjoy it fully, taking pictures along the way.
I made a playlist on Spotify during some of our downtime that morning, taking suggestions from friends on Facebook. It was a mix of my favorite 90s tunes, some slow and sweet country and energy-driving techno. I put it on shuffle in hopes the right songs would just appear when needed. It worked.
The miles just rolled on by. The air was as crisp and clear as the sky looks in my pictures. My legs felt strong and pain free underneath me and lungs worked how they were supposed to. I was in my own little world, surrounded by the most magnificent beauty of mother nature.
Everything went great until I accidentally snagged a water cup that was full of gatorade. I knew it even before that first drop hit my tongue. I could smell the lemon and just thought, “oh shit.” I’ve had a bad experience with gatorade in the middle of a long training run – if you’re not used to it, the sugar can do crazy things to your insides. Not a good thing period, but especially when you’re in the wilderness with limited options for disposal. But I was too far committed to the quick shot of liquid. I got the whole disgusting gulp. Ugh. But it all turned out fine and everything stayed in 😉
I remember one big hill towards the end (not the very last one) that was big and steep. I fell into stride with the gal in white long sleeves in my pictures and we made a silent sort of deal to not stop running. We made it to the top together and stayed close the last few miles. With one mile to go I was still feeling strong but was starting to get warm due to the cloudless sky. I stopped to take off my top layer and get one last drink of water before pushing through the last mile and up the final hill(s).
I finished somewhere around 2 hours but with some extra mileage on my app. I went searching for the girl in white to tell her thanks for the hill support but my crew found me first. I lamented about the mismeasured course while stretching and eating. The 26 and 13 mile markers were together at the same spot, with the same start and finish line. It just doesn’t work. The half marathoners got an extra tenth of a mile I think. Oh well, I wasn’t too caught up in it. My mind had already moved on to pizza.
Overall I highly recommend this race as a recreational experience. There are water and aide stations along the way but not every mile. There are very little humans along the course cheering but it’s a great scenic run. A little mismeasured but made for some mental conditioning.
I left the course feeling like myself again. I know I can run 13.1(+) miles without walking too much. I know I can do it in a strong and confident way. I know I can do it on hills and at altitude. Because I did! Happy to be back 😀