Thought for the Day

Sunday, June 6, 2004

Sacred Mountain Prayer Run 10K

Yesterday I ran the 21st Annual NACA (Native Americans for Community Action) Sacred Mountain Prayer Run 10K at Thorpe Park in Flagstaff, AZ.

The temperature was 76 F when I left my house in Chandler about 3:15 am, and it was about 46 F when I arrived at the park in Flagstaff around 5:50. The sun was already up, and people were setting up for registration. I was the first late registrant to get a number, then I went back and took a nap in my car.
It was nearing 7 when I got out again, and with the race scheduled to start at 7:30, I thought I should start warming up. I could feel that it had warmed up quite a bit already. It was probably in the 60s. I took a jog along the first mile of the course, a pretty significant hill. I went slow, just jogging along, but it still was making me breathe a little too hard. Flagstaff is at about 7000 ft in elevation.
After I turned around back toward the start, a guy who had passed me on the way out was going out again. I thought he must be crazy, not just because he was doing that hill again, but because it was getting close to time for the race to start.
I found out later that this race has many traditions, including that it never gets started on time.
I checked my blood sugar and it was 119, which is high normal. That would be fine for me, but with all of those hills, I was a little concerned that it might drive my blood sugar down too steeply. I considered having a little gatorade before the race, to be on the safe side. I even grabbed a paper cup and got some, but i just held on to it, planning to drink it when I saw them getting ready to start.
Half an hour later, there was still no sign that they were going to start soon.
I could feel my heart pounding, from the adrenalin in anticipation of the race.
Adrenalin can drive the blood sugar up. I checked my blood sugar again, and it was 188.
Well, I thought that would be okay, once I started burning it up out on the course.
This being the "Prayer Run" I thought there would be some sort of ceremony before the race, but there wasn't one, or I missed it. I told myself I should say a prayer, but I forgot until after I was racing.
The temperature was continuing to rise. I'm not sure how hot it was, but I heard it was in the 90s in Prescott that day, a few miles away.
They finally started the 5K, then had the 10K runners line up for their start.
The race director said, "We're going to start this with 3 and two and then go. Okay, Ready? 3-2-GO!" and that was the start of the race. I was reminded of the knife fight in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."
I was breathing hard through the whole race. There was nothing I could do about it.
The hills drove me to pant, and there was never enough level ground for me get control of it. I'm sure the elevation affected me. I was also crusted with sweat by the time I finished, and I'm sure I was dehydrated. I was starting to cramp in my calves and hamstrings in the last mile, coming downhill.
I checked my blood sugar after the finish, and it was 353, which is outrageously high, even for me. I also had a headache which hit me like a wave, but didn't stick. I think it may have been some mild effect of the altitude.
Here are my splits:

1. 8:19 - that first steep mile
2. 8:57 - it didn't get any better
3. 8:24 - still rolling hills
4. 9:02 - same, but I am feeling beat
5. 7:42 - coming down finally
6.2 8:15 - feeling awful

So I ran a 50:49 10K on a hilly, dirt trail course at 7000 feet in 80 plus temperatures.
That's a slower pace than I ran on a very hilly half marathon at altitude 4 weeks ago. I am more sore today than I was after the half marathon, too.
Oh, well, It wasn't my day for racing well, but it was a challenge, which is what I had gone looking for. It's a beautiful area to run through. I saw a grey fox walking through the park before the race. I may do it again next year. I'm not going to let it beat me.

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