My experience at the Acoma Seed Run 2013 blessed me in more ways than just getting out for a great run in some beautiful weather, with wonderful people. It taught me a lesson. And lessons, if learned, are generally valuable.
The Acoma Seed Run is a local run put on and held by the people of the Acoma Pueblo which is located a little over an hour west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The race takes place every Memorial Day. I fell in love with race last year when I ran it for the first time. I was taken in by the people, the support, the beauty of the area and the race itself. The miles, eight of them, mostly on dirt and sand, are kind of just a bonus of getting to spend the morning in Acoma.
The race starts on a quick 200 meter downhill on a paved road before veering left onto hard pack (10%) and sand (90%) and within a 1/3 of a mile jets upward from the floor of the mesa to the old Pueblo atop a mesa.
It’s one of those three steps forward, two steps backwards kind of steep sandy climbs and because it’s so short, about 200 meters, it’s easy to go at it too hard and just try to power through. Last year it was imperative to try to stay in contact with the front group if you want to stay in contention for a top finish and so my strategy this year was to do the same, but it kind of backfired on me.
This weekend was another great local race, the Jemez 50, in Los Alamos, a race I’ve run twice, placing, third and second in. I didn’t run it this year but was at the event to cheer on many of my friends. The lead group got lost several times coming out of the Valles Caldera and ended up ceding the win to those that got the least lost. At the beginning of the Acoma Run, I was chatting it up with a fellow runner, talking about the Jemez results and thought to myself, “How silly to get lost in a race you’ve done before…” ha, jokes on me.
At the top of the steep sandy climb everybody in the lead pack went right. Within a minute, something didn’t seem quite right but I didn’t even stop to consider that I might be off track. It wasn’t until about ¾ of the field had gone the wrong way that the 8-10 of us in the front came to a cliff face and realized our error. Well, we turned around but were now behind about 50 other people who also began turning around and lost a lot of time.
It all shook out after that so I was no worse for wear except for adding about ¾ of a mile of sandy running to my eight mile run. The course drops backdown to the mesa and follows old dirt/sand ranching roads until it loops back around to pavement with about three miles left to go. My strategy had been to put on the afterburners for the pavement but I was spent. Another not so smart thing to do today was to decide I didn’t need to eat before the race. I might have been okay if things had gone as planned at the beginning but ended up using so much extra energy, that I bonked at mile six and just tried to hold it together on the way in.
Surprisingly I still finished first in my age group, welcome to the 40-44 age group, and had a great day out. The local pueblo provides handmade pottery for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners in all age groups and pottery necklaces for 4th place. I think my favorite part is meeting all the Pueblo Fathers at the end of the race and shaking each of their hands before leaving. Everyone supports each other and it’s just a great time.
The last lady to finish was Esther Felipe who is 83 years old, and just before her was Gilbert Louis aged 78. Both finished eight miles of sandy hilly terrain to the sounds of applause and cheering. What an inspiration to see!
So my lessons were these:
- Pay Attention. It’s pretty easy to drop your gaze for a couple of moments and get off track quickly, especially if others have done it too.
- Race your Plan and Plan your Race: I always eat. Always. Not having breakfast was off my plan and I paid the price. I lost probably 2-3 minutes by the end of the race because of not eating anything.
- Humility is Priceless: One of the main reasons I went off course and didn’t eat today is because of pride. I just figured I’d be okay cuz I’m “good enough…” and that is NEVER a good thing to fall into.
I’m glad I can share a bit about this wonderful race with the tribe. And maybe my little mishaps will remind those of you out there in TALON to keep a check on your mind and spirit next time you go out for a race. It’s all for fun, and I love running, but I’m also really glad that I can still learn and laugh and my own mistakes.
Curious though, it sure would make me feel better if we could all confess a mistake or two? Anybody else want to share?
– Jason Taylor
Posted on 06 Jun 2013