Monday, April 22, 2013

A Pre-Race BIG Mistake for an Almost No Mistake Race: Desert R.A.T.S. Double Marathon

Rewind to one week ago: Monday, April 15

              I woke up early to get a 10 mile run in before my first work shift of the day. My legs still felt a little tight from the 28 mile hard run I did that past Saturday. After wearing myself out physical and mentally with trying to fit in lots of miles and getting ready for another move/ life change, I knew I needed to start really resting for the Desert R.A.T.S Double Marathon in two weeks.

             I went to the race website to check out some race details. The first thing I saw was that the race was on April 20th, not the 27th like I thought!!!!  I immediately started panicking. It was a nightmare! I had just ran 28 miles hard and my body was tired from a few weeks of big miles (for me anyway). I wasn’t even close to being physically or mentally rested enough to race in a few days!  Living at such a high speed for weeks had led to a silly mistake and had taken its toll. After a couple hours of panicking, I felt better, but I was still beyond worried.

The Race:

                The race started under cloudy skies and cool air. It was perfect running weather. After a few moment of silence to honor those who have suffered from the Boston Marathon tragedy, we were off. At the top of the hill at 1.3 miles was a $100 bill for the first man and woman to reach it so I watched some of the men take off at a sprint to go for it. I didn’t want hurt my chances of doing well at the race so I decided not to go for it, figuring some women in the marathon would surely take off for it. A half mile in I realized there were no women sprinting ahead of me and I knew I had taken off  a lot faster in other races. Suddenly, with hopes of offsetting the hotel bill (I originally planned on camping but cold temps changed that), I decided to go for it. I sped up to a tempo run pace, saw that no woman was following my move, and then charged up a steep hill for the money. Normally I try not to care much about race money, but at this point in my life, getting the premium was really helpful. I have to admit, this part of the race was really fun! 

                Soon after getting the premium, a woman wearing The North Face race uniform passed me and I knew it had to be Helen Cospolich who has won the race numerous times. I knew my legs weren’t fully rested due to my silly race date mistake, and I decided to just run comfortably the first half. Still, I never lost sight of her.

Coming into an aid station. Photo Credit: Stephanie Lefferts
                About 17 miles in I heard footsteps right behind mine and then heard another women’s breathing. I had no idea if it was a marathoner or a doubler, but I just told myself to run smart and to hold back. A couple miles later this thinking paid off as I rolled into the 20 mile aid station with Helen and Melissa Bay, who was the runner behind me. I couldn’t help but be a little relieved when I found out Melissa was a marathoner. The three of us began the steep climb out of the aid station together. I was feeling good and knew I could run the whole climb without wearing myself out. I was hoping for the women to follow as they’re great women and the company would have been welcomed, but I soon found myself alone and passing quite a few men. I was the first women to make it to the finish line/ turn around and was happy to know I still had a lot in me. After a year of experiences that had me wanting to sleep on the trail during races, a response to significant vitamin deficiencies, this was a huge relief.
Sage did a perfect job crewing for me!  Photo Credit: Stephanie Lefferts

Photo Credit: Sage Canaday
            The second half of the race was probably the best second half I’ve had since I won Mountain  Masochist in November of 2011. I ran the long climb after the turn around point without a problem. Of course, the second half of a double marathon is never easy, but I knew any pain I was experiencing I could deal with. Some races I have to repeat mantras over and over in my head again to keep my mind off of the pain, but between the beautiful views and navigating the rocks and mountain bikers, my mind had everything it needed to keep my legs going. For a few miles I enjoyed the quietness of my mind and was completely satisfied to be alive and running. Still, at the last aid station I was really wishing the course was only 50 miles instead of 52. I had the hardest climb of the day in those final miles. Even though the course was two loops, second lap in reverse, I had absolutely no memory of how steep and long the final climb was! I could have sworn the first time I ran down that trail it wasn’t nearly as steep or as long! It was the first time all day that I had to hike some steps.  Every time I thought the climb was over, there was another switchback. Finally, I was greeted by some mountain bikers who told me I had only downhill left. I smiled at the thought of a long downhill, but this downhill was rocky and technical. It was impossible to find a rhythm and my joints hurt from the rocky trail, but I made sure to appreciate that downhill after working so hard to reach that point.
An awesome trail with a view of the Colorado River. Photo Credit: Sage Canaday


               I crossed the finish line in 8:34 as the first female and 8th overall. It wasn’t a perfect race and I knew I was feeling the effects of a short taper, but I’m really happy with it. After physically struggling all of last year, I am really happy to see I’m on the upswing. I still know I have huge room to improve, but I now have regained confidence that my body can handle what it takes to make those improvements. This race served me as a great reminder to never stop believing in myself.

The finish! Photo Credit: Stephanie Lefferts
I'm using a Simple Hydration bottle here. Use the promo code "SANDI" when buying  it for a  big discount!

Video of the race. Sage filmed and I edited.


                Of course, I have to thank my twin Rachel Nypaver and my boyfriend Sage. Even though Rachel was in Ohio, I knew she was supporting me the whole race. Sage, after a CR at Lake Sonoma, took a break from racing to film, volunteer, and be the perfect crew. I couldn’t ask for better number 1 fans!

Run Wild, Run Happy, 



  1. Way to go, Sandi! I've done once the race date mix, and once a flight date mix, so yeah, not perfect, but sometimes it weirdly makes for a better race!

  2. Congrats! Way to persevere in the face of adversity. I think most of us would be too scared to start after running a 28 mile long run just one week before a big race!

  3. I adore you!!! Both Sage and you are my inspiration since my boyfriend and I are avid runners. We just started our trail running and hope can improve as fast as we can. Love you and Sage!

    1. Thanks for your kind words. Best of wishes to you on your training. :)


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