A Dangerous 5K – Estrella Foothills

A Dangerous 5K – Estrella Foothills

I ran cross country in high school. I went to high school in a desert. A desert has ridiculously hot weather. Therefore, I ran cross country in ridiculously hot weather.

Morning Practices

We would have practices five days a week. Monday mornings were hill workouts at 5:15am. Friday mornings were interval trainings at 5:30am. Tuesdays through Thursdays, we would run after school in the heat.

It was not uncommon for me to run five miles in temperatures above 100 degrees. I would drink a lot of Gatorade and take extra cortisol. But sometimes I would still end up in my “coma state” for a couple hours… or sometimes days. I now realize that this “coma state” is better known as extreme fatigue. I struggle speaking and moving and can barely form coherent thoughts. It’s not pleasant.

Afternoon Races

We would sometimes have Wednesday races after school in the ridiculous heat. There was one particularly bad race during my senior year. The hosting school thought about cancelling the 5k race due to the extreme heat. It was 117 degrees. The coaches laughed at the thought. Their teams trained in this heat daily! They can handle it!

This course consisted of weaving 2.8 miles through the desolate desert and then running a lap around the track before crossing the finish line. I remember the start of the race. Oh it was hot outside! I remember thinking I would not be able to finish this race. Even though I had been training, the extreme heat was ridiculous.

I almost collapsed towards the end, but one of the volunteers assured me that I only had a short distance before I would reach that blue track. She was actually supposed to be manning a water station, but she had run out of water long before I had reached that check point. In that moment, I determined I was going to finish.

I remember stepping onto that blue track, extremely dizzy. I knew I just had to put one foot in front of the other, even if I couldn’t see where that foot was going. My vision was going in and out of focus. Normally, I “kick” at the end with a sprint, but I had nothing left to give for this race. I don’t even remember seeing the finish line. In my fuzzy memory, I remember two strong guys quickly grabbing my arms to keep me from collapsing. I was crying because I was so confused. Once again, I did not know who or where I was.

This picture was taken immediately after I crossed the finish line. I didn’t know who these people were. But they knew I was not doing well.

Something is Wrong

My mom was right there at the finish line. She knew something was wrong. Actually, everyone who knew us knew something was wrong. Strangers dumped water on me to cool me off and forced me to immediately drink Gatorade. My mom forced me to immediately take some extra cortisol. I was mad at her at the time, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. Slowly, I began to be able to speak and remember who I was.

There were ambulance sirens in the distance. A couple runners had suffered heatstroke that race and were taken by ambulance to the hospital. I was almost one of them.

For the rest of the night, I was on edge, constantly crying. Focusing on anything was difficult. I couldn’t express myself in words. Everything overwhelmed me. It took a couple of days for me to recover from that race. And by recover, I meant return back to my normal personality and not a by-product of low cortisol.

Sometimes, it’s not worth it.

That was by far the stupidest race I ever finished. However, it did teach me that there are some times that the risks outweigh the benefits and the danger is not worth it. My determination carried me through this race, but much to the detriment of my physical health. As I proved to myself, I can run long distances. BUT I must listen to my body and know when I push myself too far. There is a limit.

I shall remain Clearly Alive.

See my mom’s response.

Amber Nicole is Clearly Alive