With Community You Can Do Hard Things

You never forget your first. Your first time at the world-renowned Broken Arrow Skyrace and first DNF. Last year I got the opportunity to take on the Broken Arrow Skyrace 23K in Tahoe. I didn’t really know what I had gotten myself into. It was sinking in watching all the runners take on the VK, 11K, and 46K the days before my race. Why didn’t I take on the 11K?! I would think. But it wasn't about taking on something I knew I could do. I wanted to take on something that scared me a little bit, actually scared me a lot being there as I looked up at the mountains around me covered in snow. My first year there also happened to be the year with the most snow they’ve had in years. 

Last year I didn’t get to ring the famous bell but I had an adventure of a lifetime. I climbed steep sections, climbed snow steps, even slid down the mountain in the snow. I think the fastest I moved on that mountain was sliding down. The elements, snow and altitude, got the best of me. I didn’t make the cutoff time. What was this San Diego girl thinking?! It was tough! I took every moment and made the best of it. Yes, I was bummed. That first DNF stung. But, I discovered a beautiful part of Broken Arrow, and it was its community. I got so many words of encouragement and support, even advice for the next time. Will there be a next time?! Yes! 

You know the great thing about community, it makes us believe we can do hard things, and we can. My run club Santa Mujeres Running Club has a saying, “Todo se puede con SMRC”, (Anything is possible with SMRC). I attempted something hard, and with the encouragement of my community, I was back this year determined more than ever to ring that bell. This time I was able to come back with some friends. This year I was connecting with new and old friends, I was also rolling in with a few ladies of SMRC. That in itself was already setting me up for sucess. Now, together we were taking on something hard and my confidence was high. Because together anything is possible.

The SMRC ladies took on the Broken Arrow Skyrace 18K Friday to kick off the events. It was a warm day and nerves and excitement were high. I didn’t run until Sunday so I wanted to make sure and be there for them. I had all the butterflies because what are they going to think after? Will they never trust me again in leading them?! Every single one of them rang the bell. Their smiles at the finish line filled me with joy and only got me more excited for my race day. Sunday morning came quickly and it was my day to take on the mountain. I woke up extra early to have some quiet time to myself and grab a light breakfast and coffee. I sat at Coffeebar staring at the empty starting line and visualizing the finish. “Querer es Poder” I told myself, and yes I really wanted to cross that finish line. Then a good sign, I spotted Allie Mac. The same amazing athlete that last year encouraged me and gave me words of advice for next time. Here I was at my next time. I got my good luck hug from Allie. My girls come down to the start and I hug them. At this point I removed all thoughts that I would not finish. 

It begins! I have a goal of 6 hours but ultimately just wanted to finish. I remembered this part, running through the trees made me feel good. It didn’t feel that hard and if some of the Strava segments are correct, I was faster than last year. Win. All those hill repeats in training were paying off. The first climb comes up, I remember it too, but this time there’s no snow. Yes! All I could think is keep moving no matter if it’s slow. Forward is a pace. Some areas looked familiar but then realized I was heading to uncharted territory. The hardest climb was just ahead. “Querer es Poder” I kept telling myself. I kept climbing even if it was slow, sharing encouraging words with other athletes but also asking ourselves “what are we doing up here?!” The section before the ladder was the hardest climb I’ve ever done. I thought the rock climbing to the  ladder was gonna be the hard part, that was a breeze. When I realized I was going to finish after passing the 2nd Aid Station, I took it all in. I looked all around and allowed myself to feel all the feelings. I was grateful for everything that I experienced that weekend. I prayed. I laughed with extreme happiness. I’m on this mountain crushing it. Made it to the last aid station, took the famous Whiskey shot and continued on. I can do 3.5 miles in 2 hours! “Querer is Poder!” Crossing that finish line and ringing the bell was exhilarating. I did it! Was the secret having my SMRC crew out there?! There is a lot of power in sharing experiences like Broken Arrow Skyrace in Community. 

By Priscilla Rojas 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.