Sunday, February 6, 2011

Three Letters

D. N. F.

Yeah, my race at the Rocky Raccoon 100 didn't turn out as I would have hoped, and ended up handing me my first DNF.  It's all good though - I knew that I was carrying an injury going in, and I woke up on race morning with my throat burning, coughing up junk and favoring my sore hip.  But I decided I was going to go for it and see what happened.  If it didn't work out, at least I would know that I gave it a try.

No regrets.

And that's how it turned out.  I ran the first 20 mile loop bang on pace in 3:04, but that came at a price.  Around 5 miles in I skidded and fell on a frozen bridge and jammed the bad hip.  It tightened up almost immediately but I kept on going thinking I would run it off.  What happened is that I started compensating for it, which resulted in both hips and quads tightening up as well.  A sprained ankle courtesy of another fall on the roots at about mile 13 didn't help.

Second loop I was still running for about 10 miles, but my hips and quads continued to stiffen up to the point where it became a real effort to raise my legs to run.  That reduced me to a walk, and although I finished out the loop in 4 hours I knew I was done.

In fact, I was surprised I made it 40 miles.

Could I have carried on and finished?  Probably.  Could I have finished without injuring myself?  Probably not.  A few years ago I would have sucked it up and done it anyway, but maybe I'm a little older and wiser.  Or maybe it just doesn't mean as much any more.

Do I regret dropping?  No, last night I got to cuddle up at home with the Gavster instead of limping around the woods coughing up a lung.

On the plus side, I did get to see firsthand some of the superstar athletes of the ultra world - Scott Jurek, Anton Krupicka, Hal Koerner, Karl Meltzer, Liza Howard.  And best of all, a Brit - Ian Sharman - smash the course record by running 100 miles in 12:44:53.  It was very cool running around the trails with these guys saying "good job" to you.

And whatever happened in this race, I always had it in my mind that this was going to be my last 100 miler.  I have good finishes at both Rocky Raccoon and Cactus Rose, and to be honest I found it really hard to motivate myself to get up for this one - it's like I've got nothing left to prove to myself.  Maybe it's time to close the book on this chapter of my life.

Besides, I seem to have made the transition back from a trail runner to a road runner.  That's not to say I won't run any more ultras, but probably not 100 milers.  I suspect my next race will be Ryan's El Scorcho 50k this summer.

Until then, I'm just going to enjoy meeting up with my friends for long runs on the weekend, and run for fun.

PS. huge congratulations to my friend Karen F.  It was great to see you out there yesterday.  I've been following the live feed, and I see you just finished your first 100 miler.  Sweet - you deserve it, and I'm so happy for you.


brendaontheRun said...

Good job out there ... it's never easy going into a big race when you're already injured. Enjoy your recovery!

K said...

Hey Mark,
I was so glad to see you out there too! I had written about seeing you as well as a few other runners that I admire on the trail, but alas, my laptop crashed and took with it a majority of my report.

After collecting my wits, I typed out another one and looking it over now, I realize that I left out some things I intended to mention.

I have taken 3 DNF's and while they didn't feel real wonderful, I know that they were the right decisions at the time. They added a perspective that I could not have had if I had succeeded in finishing the race.

I hope that I see you at another run sometime soon. I'm with you on getting back to enjoying the run, enjoying the friends, and seeing where it leads me.

Thanks for all of your advice, inspiration, and encouragement. You are a true example of one of the good guys!