I had two completely different experiences between running the Adrenaline middle distance race and the Vertigo shorter distance 10K race. At Adrenaline, I felt great through the first 8 miles, not so great at miles 10-12, and then ended up jog walking miles 12 through 16 due to stomach cramps, dizziness, and exhaustion. The only thing that worked for me was consuming ice cold water. After I finished, drank a ton, and drove home I felt so much better. I realized that I must have had mild heat exhaustion. I had focused on eating a lot prior to the race and didn’t drink enough before the race and during the race. I also did little to cool my core temperature during the race.
For Vertigo, I decided to run the 10K at the last minute. We had driven back from San Diego that day and had already run a 26 mile training run during the week. However, my 15 year old high school cross country runner son Jonathan wanted to run the 10K so I signed up with him. We both hydrated a lot during the afternoon and before the race. We followed Nick Coury’s advice from the Scottsdale Beat the Heat race and pretty much stayed inside our air conditioned car except to watch both earlier races start and to register. We quickly stretched and kept drinking. We both soaked bandanas and tied them around our necks. My son decided to run shirtless since that is how he normally trains. I decided to completely soak my shirt in cold water prior to the start of the race. I also completely soaked my head in cold water. We both took one handheld bottle with us to the start as well as our lighting source.
My plan for the race was to take it easy and not over heat. I definitely did not want to end up dizzy and jog walking this race, even though it was only a 10K. As the race started, my son quickly moved to the front and I plodded along. Many younger runners passed me in the first half mile. As the trail started to climb, my legs began to loosen up and I pretty much kept my pace. I passed quite a few runners until about 1.5 miles when I didn’t see any more 10K runners until right before the finish. I realized I must be somewhere between the lead runners and the rest of the pack but I had no idea how many runners were ahead of me. I greatly enjoyed running the course through the still of the night and occasionally passed a few runners who were in the longer races. The only person who passed me at about two miles was Jamil Coury who was absolutely flying down the trail with his camera and bright light!
As I approached the aid station, I felt great but was starting to get a little hot. I dumped my remaining water from my handheld on my head, resoaked my bandana, filled up on fluid and ice, thanked the volunteers and ran off down the trail. The miles were clicking off slightly faster after the aid station as the course seemed to be more downhill and I knew I was unlikely to overheat before the finish. I passed one 10K runner with around a quarter mile to go. I almost caught the 4th place finisher but he saw me coming and then left me in the dust. I crossed the finish line and had no idea where my son was or what place I was in. I was told I finished 5th which was hard for me to believe. I finally found my son (turns out he had gone to throw up in the desert) and he told me he finished first! We cooled off, ate some food, watched some more runners finish, and he collected his awesome plaque and loot. We then headed for home as he was not looking too well.
Our first eating place after leaving the park was a Burger King. Jonathan quickly went to use the bathroom and was looking pretty pale. I felt great and grabbed a shake and a burger. As we made the drive home, I was feeling awesome but Jonathan was curled up in a fetal position and felt like he had a fever. When we got home, he looked absolutely terrible! After we got him inside the house, we covered him in cool towels and gave him some more liquids until he eventually felt better and then he went off to bed. He woke up fine the next day although I did check on him a couple of times before I went off to sleep.
I definitely learned that keeping the body’s core temp cooler by soaking and resoaking clothing and by going out slowly was a key to me not overheating. For Jonathan, that was his first 10K race. In fact, the longest he had ever raced was the typical 5K cross country races and never in a race this hot. He definitely had enough to drink and even felt like he had too much fluid in his stomach during the race. But running shirtless and not cooling during the race may have resulted in him having heat exhaustion after the race. But who knows, as there were plenty of other fast runners that night who were running shirtless and didn’t get into trouble. I plan on using the same cooling techniques for the middle distance upcoming Hypnosis run and am looking forward to another great Aravaipa Running event!