I thought 2013 was the year of the DNF and 2014 was different, but I was wrong. While I have finished 3 trail races, including 1 ultra in 2014, it was not to be the year for my first 100.
The race was Big Cedar, in Dallas, Texas. I knew it was going to be a hilly, possibly muddy run, and I felt ready. My training had gone well, culminating in a 42 mile run (32 miles of hilly country roads, 10 miles of technical trails) in 90+ degrees. I thought running in the cool would make things much easier for me.
When I got to the race, I felt great. I was nervous, but ready to start. I had not major aches or pains that were out of the usual. I weighed in under 150, and felt I had a great shot.
My first loop went reasonably well. It started with the typical conga line that I despise. I am not one for the hoopla and yelling that some runners like to do, so I like to spread out quickly. I also was in a group that liked to very timidly take the downhills walk the inclines, and run faster on the flats. I like to move down the downhills quickly, walk the inclines, and run the flat parts easy. The conga line lasted until Mile 5.5 at the Copperhead aid station. There I poured some perpetuem powder in my drink, ate a couple quarter sandwiches, and Rob and I met up and started running together. We ran/walked a pretty easy pace most of the way through. I think he went ahead of me at the Twilight aid station. I continued on, running, and walking, eating pickles, and drinking water, perpetuem, heed, and nuun. Just before Powerline, Rob was coming back out for his second loop as I finished my first. He said he would be going slowly and I could catch up.
I felt pretty decent coming into the Powerline aid station at mile 19.1 and saw Lesley there, who was doing a great job running the aid station. I took a long time changing my shoes, texting my wife, and just getting things together. Lesley threatened to kick me out of the aid station. Texting probably took the longest. As I got that loop started, I was more noticeably alone and decided on listening to some music. Bob Dylan is one of my favorites for the trail so I started with him, but quickly was feeling a bit down with that, so I changed to the Offspring. I was feeling pretty amazing at this point and happy with my run/walk.
It got dark and I was happy listening to my music and running on my own. I passed Copperhead and was still feeling pretty good but between there and Truth Corner 2.0, that 4-5 miles just got me. After a bit, I caught up with a guy named Richard who was content at this point to power-hike the race. We stuck together for a bit, telling one another about our lives and keeping alert. I felt real good so I decided to run on ahead. In the dark, alone, and tired, that is when I felt pretty bad. Richard caught back up and asked what was wrong. I don’t know what I said, but it was something about my stomach, feeling weak, and my quads being trashed. We stuck together and after not to long we were at Truth Corner.
At this point, I was feeling awful so I sat on a cooler. Several of the aid station workers noticed me (I must have looked bad), and began helping out. Jeremy Day was running the station and was particularly helpful. Pretty quickly though, I was laying in the dirt, thinking I was out. Jeremy told me I was not quitting at this aid station and had me in a chair, sipping water, wearing his jacket and gloves (as laying in the dirt had caused me to get very cold very quick). One of the aid station workers said my pulse was very low and weak – but this could be because I am a runner. Richard, who did not know me from Adam stayed and waited for me. He said we would hike it together. Jeremy encouraged this. To my amazement, after a few minutes I felt good again, though my quads were worse. I got up, with Jeremy’s jacket, gloves, and hat, and was on my way.
Richard and I hiked that next 7 miles for what felt like an eternity. The drizzle was not making it muddy, but was starting to make the ground just soft enough to notice. What killed me more than the pain in my legs or the fatigue or the dizzy spells was the time it took to make 7 miles. All of this was just harder on me mentally than I expected. Later I would realize I was pretty dehydrated still and this probably did not help. I began talking about dropping at the end of this leg of the race and Richard decided he would too. Neither of us thought we could go on.
When we quit and went to Powerline to turn in our ankle timers, Jason, who was to by my 75-100 pacer tried to talk me out of it. But I quit anyhow. And Bryan, my 50-75 pacer was there, somewhat relieved to not be running in the conditions. Rob. Or Robby. Or whatever he wants to be called was there, moaning about a rash or something. He probably could have continued if he had not spent so much time complaining about his styling gel not working in his hair. My dad was there too, and I was sad to have to tell him, I was once again quitting a race. Almost 50 miles, over 5,000 feet of elevation gain according to Garmin, and I was done.
I don’t have a lot more to say. 67 signed up. 62 started. 12 finished. 60% of the 50K runners did not finish. And I did not finish my 100 mile race. There is no big injury. I did not get lost. The race staff did not somehow mess me up. I don’t have any excuse other than I was not able to do it. This is my first DNF without an injury being behind it. I spent most of my drive home from DFW to Austin going between justifying the DNF to myself and hitting my steering wheel in anger for quitting.
So on to new goals. And here they are:
In 2015 I plan to try to place in the top 3 of Men’s 30-39 Division of the Texas Trail Championships (non-ultra).
Races I am considering for my 7 are:
Purgatory 10 Miler or Bandera 25K – January 2014
Grasslands Half Marathon – March 22, 2014
Hells Hills 10K – April 5, 2014
Brazos Bend 25k – April 26, 2014
Pandora’s Box of Rox Marathon – May 3, 2014
One or more Capt’n Karls Race – Summer 2014
Paceface 30K- Oct 11, 2014
At that point I will probably run Big Cedar 50K or 50 Miler to springboard into training for Rocky Raccoon 100 in 2016. I am not done going for 100, but I may try a flatter one next time.