Thursday, November 13, 2008


the mother road is done.
my psyche driving down to OK was decent. after 3+ weeks of non-running and stiff-legged slow running, i finally had a 'normal' run 3 days before the race.

when i first had the accident, i figured i'd be back jogging in 4-5 days.
then things sunk in and i realized 10 days might be optimistic.
i was finally walking again after 10 days, but no running til 14 days.
at that point my mind was trying to hold onto some hope, but really my enthusiasm was lost.
people said i couldn't lose fitness in 2 weeks. i wanted to believe them.
but i gained 5-6 lbs because my eating habits had inertia.
stumbling along on some 10 mile runs, i was back on the trails, but i had no pep. i couldn't do anything less than an 8:30 mile. the knee wouldn't allow it.
i had been so looking forward to those last 3 weeks of preparation, that when they were taken away the joy of the race left with them.
still, i knew i would run the race. it was on the way home to georgia (where i was excited to go) and there was no good reason not to start.
the one illegitimate reason i had was that i had put off running a 100 mile race for 8 years since starting to run ultras. everyone wondered why i hadn't run one was because i had this idea that i didn't want to run 100 until i was ready to RUN 100 miles. i knew i could cover the distance in the time limit, but that didn't sound particularly satisfying to me.
so i trained alot and had a great confidence boost from the le grizz run, and i was ready to RUN 100 miles.
so now, with the extra weight and the too-rested legs, i wasn't sure i could RUN the whole thing...and why do it?
i decided that it made sense to go for it.

i started out in the well cushioned shoes that i'd worn for the le grizz. i went out conservatively, just wanting to feel good til 100k.
my hamstrings were tight after 20 miles, so i changed into my racing flats (they had 1000 miles on them, and the padding was compacted, but at least they let my hammys loosen up) and strolled along. i think i was about 18th or so at 25 miles. i took some dr. pepper and gatorade every few miles, and cruised in to 50 miles in 8:22. i had moved up to about 7th place.

originally i'd hoped to keep the first 50 under 8 hours, but i was concerned about pushing too early. i knew that with my psyche the way it was, i needed to stay comfortable as long as possible. if i could avoid feeling horrible before 80 miles, then i figured i could force myself to finish well. but if it got rough before 50 then i wasn't sure i would finish.

anyway, 8:22 for 50 was fine. right on 10 minute miles. given that some of my best races have been negative splits i thought that even though it wasn't likely, i might still run close to 17 hours.

i slightly bonked at 53 miles, but got some calories down when i caught up to james in the van, and rectified the situation.
the sun was going down, and i told james to keep the stops 2 miles apart, so that i could easily keep the calories flowing. i thought i picked up the pace for the next 20 miles, and was super pumped to reach the 72 mile aid station in under 14 hours......until i found out that it was only the 67 mile aid station. damn! despite the slowing, i had still moved up to 5th place.

here was the make or break point of the race. i thought i'd been cruising, while in fact i'd been struggling. I knew that mentally i needed to concentrate on keeping up performance, rather than being disappointed at the pace falling off. if i could keep positive then i could still run under 19 or 20 hours (not terribly satisfying, but an obviously honest effort).

i hung in there and stayed positive til 71.5 miles, half way across the long bridge. there my metabolism slowed, and i got cold, and i started to walk. when i arrived at the aid station i was mentally broken. I gave up.

i have given up before, and still finished well, but it usually takes a couple/few hours of suffering before i correct the situation and get the right combination of calories and enthusiasm flowing again. At Vol-State if has taken me half a day to get things going again. that's suffering.

after giving up, i really wanted to quit. it was cold, my time goal was gone, and there was just a long 28 miles in the middle of the night to look forward to. i was still in 5th place, but that was small consolation for how i was feeling.

i told james to drive back to town and get some hot food. this way i wouldn't have the option to quit for a while....taking that option away might give me an opportunity to stop thinking negatively and let the calories do some work and get me moving again. as he left i said, 'when you get back i might even be running!'

well, this gravel section of the course treated my feet horribly, with the racing flats still on every step was painful. i kept plodding, and finally james came running up the road towards me. it turns out that crew vehicles weren't allowed on this section, so james ran back 3 miles to bring me some food. nice.
i ate and drank a little and we talked. i wanted to quit still. it was still a marathon to the finish and i just didn't see any really solid reason to struggle through it.

when we got to the van i kept walking. things were truly sucking, but i have been through much worse before. I decided that i needed to come up with a solid reason to quit, or else a solid reason to finish. if i came up with either one, then that would get the question of "should i finish" out of my mind.

well, when ever i have wanted to quit something in the past (like school or a task or a job, or a run) my dad has said, "you need to finish it, and then you can decide whether it was worth it, and whether you'll ever choose to do something similar again."

when you want to quit, this outlook is a tough one to take, but i thought about it. i didn't necessarily agree with it...i had been through alot in the past 4 months, why should i force myself through this pain, just to finish in an unsatisfying time?

long story short, i just kept going. at 90 miles james needed to get to the airport (by 6 am) and both he and i thought i'd drop out and drive him there. instead i told him to take the van to the airport and i'd get a ride there later.

he did, and i walked it in to the finish. 23:24.
certainly not a satisfying time, but i did finish.

the important aspect of finishing this race (i realized afterwards) is that i gained more experience that will help me in my next try at RUNNING 100 miles. now i know, "how far" 100 miles in one feels. this will be an advantage going into the next attempt.
now i just need to recover from the tired legs, and get the training consistent for a few months again.

good stuff. many thanks to james.

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