Ahhh yes. The post that I’ve been eager and dreading to make, all in one…
Well it happened… again. The only event I’ve ever DNF’d and now I’ve DNF’d it twice on back to back years. Remember me blogging about this one? No? Click here for a refresher….
Going into this race I had a mixture of emotions. For quite some time I felt as if I haven’t trained for this well enough. I even expressed my concerns about my ability to finish this race to Mike and Beth after running just a 50k at Woodstock. Thanks to Runkeeper tho and the fact that I’m a bit of a data geek I pulled elevation, distance, and pace data for a rolling twelve months to see how it compared to last year and surprisingly enough; I covered more elevation AND a greater distance than previously. After reviewing all the data, I now had statistics on my side and I should have had no problem; I had a plan, I trained, I had a crew, and I had pacers.
So now I think I was mentally AND physically prepared to run this race. Not to PR or to crush a time, but to finish this race within the time limit and to finish it feeling well. I reviewed my plan very closely and felt that it was totally doable. Although I guess my “worst case” scenario really wasn’t worst case. So what took me out of this race? Thinking really hard about it, I’d have to say the mental game…
I went down Friday afternoon with Peg and Janice. Peg hasn’t been around much lately so she had a great time this weekend, even getting to sit shotgun for a bit.
After some carbo loading at the Olive Garden and a beer to calm some last-minute jitters we headed to our hotel to bed for a good night’s sleep. I had a lot on my mind seeing as I DNF’d this race around mile 46.xx last year, surprisingly enough though, I slept pretty well.
The hotel was about 10min away from the start of the course and once there we had enough time to pose for a quick photo-op…
The race started out very well. Everyone was in good spirits and the first 20 miles flew by! The course consisted of a four mile loop which included a little run up Sugarloaf Mountain that we had to run one time, then circling back around to start/finish. Then a 16 mile loop which included Sugar Loaf, Mount Ives and several others that we had to run six times. Also new this year, Rob enlisted the services of Jamie Clifton to photograph the race. Check out her site here! She did a fantastic job and hauled her gear all over the course to get runners in different locations.
This was me coming to the top of Sugarloaf – told you I was still having fun 🙂 I was still feeling pretty good around mile 23 or so but started to feel slight pains on both sides of my lower back. Kidneys, I thought? Dunno – then I started to think about how much I’ve had to drink, when the last time I pee’d was and how strange it was that I’ve gone over 5 hours or so and hadn’t gone. So around mile 25 I decided I’d force myself to. While I thought I was hydrating enough, turns out I wasn’t. Notice the color of my shirt? Yeah, that was the color of my pee! Now I was getting a bit worried especially since the pains I was feeling were getting worse. All I kept thinking was about my friend Tara who had hydration problems at BR a couple of years ago, collapsed yards away from the finish and was hospitalized for several days. My thinking was – I was alone for much of the time; if I were to collapse no one would find me for probably an hour! I ended up walking the rest of the loop and was frantically texting my friends Zack and Laurie about what to do. Laurie and Paul were on their way down to pace me so I’d be seeing them soon. Zack said to drink — A LOT! So over the course of the next 6 miles I drank roughly 3 liters of water and took in several S-Caps. I made it back to the start/finish in rough shape to say the least. I felt like crap. My stomach was sloshing around from all of the water I was drinking but the pains have subsided some. Poor Janice, this being her first experience with an ultra was trying so hard to be helpful, but I honestly just needed a little sandwich and some time to regroup. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and let my stomach calm for about 20 minutes or so. Laurie and Paul showed up just as my stomach was starting to feel a little better and I was starting to prepare to head back out but needed to make a quick pit stop to relieve some of the water I was taking in and check the color.
I think people 10 miles away heard me come out yelling, “IT”S CLEAR!!!!!!” I bolted back to pick up some more supplies and then ran out of there, back onto the trail like a new man! This lasted for a little while and I was cruising through this 16mile loop. Laurie and Janice were helping me hydrate by texting me every ten minutes saying “DRINK!”. But the pains in my back were still returning. I made it to the aid station at mile 46 (same place I dropped last year) and had to lay down for a minute. That is when my friend Matt, who was heading up the aid station along with his track team that he coached, stood over me and said, “DUDE! You were laying in this exact position, in this exact spot at this exact time in this race last year!!!”. I told him I know, but this year I wasn’t quitting here. He called over a couple of members of his team, they helped stretch out my legs, and I was back up and running.
I hit the start/finish aid station at mile 49.x feeling a little revived, especially since now Laurie would be joining me.
And we were off again. It was such a relief to be running with her. About a mile in and we heard our first coyote. It was loud and close so we started talking very loudly in hopes that we just scare it off. The coyotes played a factor in my DNF last year, but I was alone. Now with company they didn’t bother me as much.
We made it to the top of Sugarloaf and the pains were returning again! As we were approaching the next aid station I started doing some mental math. Calculating how much time I was loosing per loop and how much time I’d need to finish the race when it hit me – I can’t make it. We hit the aid station and I sat down feeling defeated again. The volunteers and Laurie were very supportive and egged me on to go back out. Laurie made a post on Facebook and several seconds later I received a call from my incredible friends back home. It was awesome to hear from them and feel their support through the phone. After talking to them, Laurie and the volunteers some more, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to quit just yet, so the volunteers suggested that we head out on the trail and if I still felt like I couldn’t make it to make a turn at the road about a mile ahead instead of crossing it and we’ll come upon the next aid station.
Off we went and about 3/4 of a mile later – I was done 😦 We came to the road, made the turn and came upon the aid station at which time we called Paul and Janice to come get us. DNF’ing this race again was tough but at least heading back out I know I left it all out there. Had I not had the hydration problems early on and those pains in my lower back, I KNOW I could have finished this race. Mentally the pains were doing a number on me. I know sometimes you just have to run through it knowing that it sucks now and will get better soon, but thoughts of “what if” kept creeping in my head… “what if it IS my kidneys”, “what if I collapse out on the trail, how would I get to a hospital in time” and being a single Dad I wasn’t willing to make such a gamble. I know — sounds a bit dramatic huh? But like I tell my doctor, I think I’m a borderline hypochondriac but am also stubborn so I’m reluctant to go to the doctor then end up worrying some more…. Here is my runkeeper data for this year’s Yo Momma’s 100.
We packed it up, Laurie and Paul headed for home and luckily Janice had the foresight to get our hotel room for another night. Her and I head back there and I was out like a light! The next day, after we arrived home I felt decent enough to head out for a quick little jog/walk (yes, I did track this walk with runkeeper as well, here’s the data) and I proceeded to overeat before the kids came home. After all, I burned over 12,000 calories the day prior – I deserved to 🙂
Most of my friends and family have heard this story many times. Most of them have NOT heard this next part. Maybe I ate too much too fast? Not sure, but when I was starting to put the kids to bed the next night I started to get a terrible pain in my lower abdomen. I got the kids to bed before the pain was so intense I was double over sweating. I managed to crawl to the bathroom and got sick several times. Crawled back into bed writhing in pain, I actually had my Dad’s number dialed on my cell phone but it was now one or two in the morning, I didn’t dial. I know I’ve never felt such pain before – on the scale they ask at the hospital 1-10, it was conservatively a 7 or 8. After spending hours in pain I finally managed to fall asleep. The next day I was messaging my friend Heather who is a nurse for advice and she ended up convincing me to make an appointment to see my doctor for some blood work. I’m assuming everything came back as normal because despite my attempts to get a hold of him, I never heard back with the results……
NOW!!!! Guess what?!?!?!?!?! REGISTRATION IS OPEN and guess who’s already registered!!?? — that’s right, ME!!!! I’ve learned things with each failure – this course has beat me twice, I won’t stop until I beat it. Wanna join me? Click here for the registration page. Appropriate enough, Peg and I made the cover 🙂
Have you DNF’d a race before? Does the DNF make you want to run it again that much more?