Sometimes you have to know when to fold.

I love trail running, it’s time I spend calming my mind, centering myself from chaos. It’s a place where I can just be. Unfortunately I don’t get much play time in the woods. Life is the reason. I won’t ramble on about how busy I am, again. But time is not my friend lately. The only time I can get to the woods for fun, is if I register for a trail race. I’ve run trails five times this year, so it seemed natural to sign up for the Mendon Mauler when my friend John told me he was coming from Syracuse to run it again. (After he swore he’d never run in Rochester after running this race last year) John told me in January his knees still hurt from the last time he ran this race. Hearing that his runner’s amnesia kicked in and he registered again didn’t surprise me. Mendon Mauler is a trail race with three mileage options. It is a 4 mile loop course. You can run 4, 8 or 12 miles (1, 2 or 3 loops of the trail). I’ve only been brave enough to attempt the 8 miles. The third 4 mile loop might kill me. I’m just not that tough. It has some decent hills to run up, and down.

John is Mancandy and my mutual friend. They met during another hilly road race several years ago. Mancandy gave John a gel, and their Bromance was sparked. He’s a really fun guy, and because Mancandy works different shifts as a first responder he wasn’t available to run the Mauler this year with John. Therefore I was the proxy and ran. I was really (not at all) disappointed to have to run a trail race. They had to beg me (never) to run. Let me start by saying I did not step on one single trail to train for this. I signed up on a whim. I’ve been running a lot. Much more than last year at this time when I ran the race. But I’ve done far less crossing training over the last few months (life is getting in my way).

Tuesday, I came home from work exhausted, little sore throat, headache, congested, by 6 pm I was in bed. Wednesday I came home, ran the kids to activities, all night, and when I finally got home at 8 pm, I went to bed. I was exhausted and not feeling well still. Day before the race I worked a fourteen hour day on my feet. I picked up a part time job recently that I plan to work while in school full time. I needed more to do right? I was sore and exhausted when I got home, finally at 8 pm. I picked up kid #2 from football, who I knew had a cold, and he proceeds to tell me “my chest hurts when I cough”. Off to urgent care we went. By the time he was seen, I got his prescription, and he was settled into bed, I could barely walk. I also realized at this time that I drank about forty ounces of water for the entire day, and skipped dinner. Exhausted, tired, and dehydrated not the right combination the day before a warm race. The Mauler takes place on Friday evening, SO….I spent another 8 hours on my already aching legs at work that day. It was a chaotic day at best. By the time I was leaving work, I realized I had only eaten half my lunch, and my water bottle was only half gone from the morning. OOPS…. Knowing it was warm, I naturally tried to gulp down 30 ounces of water over the next two hours. Did not help. My legs were cramped, and I was not feeling fresh.

(It’s true)

I arrived to the race, socialized found my friend John, and didn’t drink anymore water before the race. I was also hungry. The sun was shining, it was a beautiful summer evening. I was mentally ready to take on 8 miles of trails. Race started, I had a water bottle in my pocket. I started running, and was being conservative with my water intake. My legs were tired, but I felt ok. I got through the first 2 miles, was having fun. I was in my calm place. Two women asked me about my running skirt, and I even explained how functional it was and showed them all the pockets my little girly skirt has. I was good. I hit the first water stop, and thought “I should refill my water bottle” I took it out of my very functional skirt pocket, and realized it was full. Two sips gone full. I started drinking, thinking I would make it to the loop back in at mile 4 and refill. I drank that little 8 ounce bottle over the next half mile. A half mile later I started to get dizzy, I felt chilled (it was 70+ degrees) and for as warm as it was I was no longer sweating by mile three. My legs were cramped, and I had no energy. The beauty of this race is if you sign up for the 4 or 8 mile option you can switch distances if you choose. As I continued to run, I was no longer feeling happy, or calm. I was hungry, and not feeling well. I started assessing the situation. I knew there were two decisions. Get to the loop going back in, refill my water drink it before taking off for the second loop, and refill, and try my best, or be smart: realize this was a race intended for fun, and call it at 4 miles, and still get a finishing time. For 1.5 miles this is what I thought about. I decided the smart thing would be to call it. Knowing I had committed to pacing Saturday morning, and that I had a group run to lead Sunday were the final factors in my decision. I also started missing my family a lot while on that 4 mile run. I saw my kids for three blinks on Thursday, and maybe 10 blinks on Friday, before I left. Yes my need to please everyone kicked in. I knew dropping was the right choice. By doing so I started to work on getting hydrated again for my Saturday morning run. I went home, and I spent some quality time with my kids. Instead of running for another 50 minutes. They would have probably been in bed by the time I got home if I ran 8 miles. They needed some mom time as much as I did.

So here is what I took away from this race: I didn’t complete the intended distance. So what? I was smart. I didn’t jeopardize the rest of my weekend. In reality I should have never started this race the way I felt. I need to plan better, and think about how I might feel after working a long day. The next day. I might think I’m a spring chicken, but my body has been reminding me a lot lately that I have beat it up, really well in the 25 years (give or take a few years) I have been on this planet. My body also reminded me it doesn’t care how busy I am I need to hydrate on warm days, and take the time to eat, properly. This was the first time I ran in really warm temperatures this year. Yes, this year. I was happy to decide to run less for sure with all the factors that were in play. I have a few races coming up, one being a trail half marathon in August, I’ve never run more than 8 miles on trails. This Mendon Mauler was a reminder of why you need to train on the terrain where you will run. I will make trail running more of a priority, right after my kids, the man, the dog, and work.

Lesson learned. I need to follow my instincts. I am mom after all. My kids are still alive, so they must be pretty good.

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