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Bigfoot 200 - Run
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“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” - Elon Musk
(Note for those not familiar with the race: The Bigfoot 200 is a point to point run that takes place in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. It starts near the base of Mt. Saint Helens, and finishes 209 miles later in Randall, Washington. It is actually 209 miles long and runners have 107 hours to finish.)
For years I’ve been on a tear. After starting to run Ultra Marathons, I knew my time was limited in this arena. I just had that feeling. So I decided that if I couldn’t do endless races, I’d keep making them harder and harder, each one a different goal, until I finally found the race that beat me. Big Foot 200 was that race, but it beat me in a way I had not conceived or expected.
This race had been a goal for a few years, but life decided when it would be best, and as always, life is usually right. In the 3 years leading up, Covid stopped it once, and then the possibility of a graduation date the other. Life was much smarter than me here, because I wasn’t going to be nearly prepared to toe the line of this event before the 2022 race. I wasn’t smart enough yet. The epiphanies had not occurred. The life lessons still needed learning. But by the time I took the starting line I was as ready as I could be. The bonus lesson to be learned later was that my best wasn’t going to be good enough for the race, and despite my best efforts, I wasn’t going to finish this time. The big DNF (Did Not Finish) always loomed like a specter somewhere beyond the curve ahead. I often wondered what would happen when we finally met. Would it knock me down so hard I would throw in the towel for good? Would I fall into some “runners” depression? Or would I learn a lesson, dust myself off and find a way to go on? Those are the questions that press against me as I type these words.
What was great about this race was having Mary along this time. In the past, these events usually took place during the school year. There is certainly a degree of guilt going on some great adventures and not being able to share it with your spouse, except with stories and photos. It’s certainly not the same. At the same time, I wondered how she would feel watching me go through the roller coaster of witnessing her husband get physically and mentally destroyed. She’d seen it before, in different races, but I didn’t think quite like this and to this degree. It’s strange enough letting your friends see you at your weakest moments. It takes a good all-around sense of humor to get through those moments during these events. I was hoping we would all get through this without to much damage.
I’m not going to explain the years of on and off training that took place or the crazy amount of needles that had to be jammed into my knees and back to get me to the starting line. That’s an entire book in itself. However, a huge amount of credit and recognition goes to my crew. Bias as I might be, I had/have the best crew in ultra racing. I’m actually kind of embarrassed they have to waste their great talents on me. Karen is the “end all be all” of logistical planning. She had a binder that was larger than many big city phone books, each page laminated. She had taken the runner's manual and added our own information, then maps, and routes, then lists, then reservations and so on and so on. She had organized this race to the Nth degree. She was also in charge of organizing my clothes, food, and most everything else in the vehicle. Nothing was left to chance. There was no “winging it”. God help the rest of you out there who don’t have Karen. She could now give classes on how to properly crew and organize an ultra marathon. Jon, her husband, is now a much better runner than I am. He did the same training and could easily outdistance me. I was lucky to have him as a pacer on this and other races, but as it turned out, he never got to even put his running shoes on for this one. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s a doctor, and was ready to patch me up when something went wrong. That’s a lot of peace of mind for these long races. Stephanie also did the big training miles and is better suited for these than me. Her brighter outlook is a much-needed asset during these grueling races. When I start to go low, she can usually snap me out of the darkness. I always count myself lucky when she can join the team. Mary, my wife, was the secret weapon for me on this one. I knew there would be a point when only she could get me to go on. This was going to be a race where I’d have to dig deep and would need her kind of “Jim management skills” that friends might not be the right choice for. She can love me, and also kick my ass when she needs to so I get shit done. I knew it was going to come to that at some point. Between these 4 people, I felt like I had my best shot at doing this race, but in the end, it was me who turned out to be the weakest link…..for a few reasons.
Having to explain this defeat over and over isn’t as cathartic as one might believe (where is the sarcasm font when you need it?) I know my reasons, but how do they sound to anyone who wasn’t there, or for that matter, for those who were? By all accounts, I could have certainly gone further than I did. I had no doubt that I could have made it 40 or maybe 50 more miles before I began getting to close to the “cut-off” times that haunted each Aid Station, so why did I stop at 73 miles? I was in the best physical shape I had ever been at 73 miles. My knees were surprisingly a nonissue. My back was a mess, but probably one I could have soldiered through for many more hours. I had to hold my breath and grit my teeth together each time I ran for the 50 or so yards that I attempted at a time, but I was getting used to that. But there was more.
In the first 35 hours of the race, I had slept a total of 1 hour. That was not my plan. I had intended to catch some 30-minute cat naps on the trail, but those never happened, for a few reasons. During training, I had pictured myself lying next to the trail, maybe against some tree, and having a quick nap, but by the time night fell, I wasn’t in a forest, I was on the side of a mountain, on a dirt trail, each step sending up a puff of volcanic dirt and dust. Plus, I wasn’t the least bit tired yet. I wanted to rest the first moment I began to feel tired, so I waited, which really added to the problem, but I really didnt’ see any way around it.
Normally I’d write a race report in a mostly sequential timeline, but this one is a bit all over the place. But I’ll try to put in into some context to make this easier to swallow. The race started off fine. The gang (Mary, Jon, Karen and Stephanie) all met me at the starting line. They had dropped me off at the finish line so I could ride the bus for a few hours to the start line. The thought there was IF the car broke down with me in it, I wouldn’t make it to the race on time. But if I were in the provided bus ride, if the BUS broke, well, that was on them and they’d wait. So I rode the school bus for a few hours, which is as comfortable as a school bus ever was. They met me in the starting area afterwards, where I had to pick up my GPS tracker. I went back to the rental SUV and relaxed in the back seat until it was nearly time to start.
Eventually, we gathered round the start inflatable, listened to Phil sing the National Anthem, gave some hugs and started off into the forest. It was uphill right from the beginning, and for a while it was wide enough to go 2 or 3 across, but eventually it became a single file path, and if you wanted to pass, you had to let the person ahead know. No big deal, except for the idiots who wanted to run fast early and for some reason started at the back of the pack. This seems to happen in every single race. Come on people! I was using my poles right from the beginning, saving my legs a few pounds with every step. Why many people were still carrying them on their packs baffled me, but everyone has their own plan, so I would do ME and they could do THEM.
After 42 minutes, we emerged into the first boulder field. It’s exactly how it sounds. Giant boulders had been blown out of the earth in 1980 and were now part of this course. Every step was an opportunity to break an ankle, so you had to pick out each and every step, trying to keep as straight as a path to the next colored ribbon ahead of you. It really was a “free for all” here, as there was no real path except for the one that got you from where you were to where you were trying to end up. Needless to say, this was VERY slow going. During times like these, and there were many, I imagined 20 year old me would have bounced from rock to boulder, keeping a pace not much slower than a slow jog, but 57 year old me had to be more cautious, which didn't make me happy on several levels. I wasn’t going much slower than most other people, but I was decidedly a tad slower. I tried to be content knowing that I would be fine with my “own” pace.
I arrived at the first Aid Station(Blue Lake) at about 4 hours and 20 minutes. I had some water mellon and oranges here, as well as refilling my drink bladder and front bottle. I was there maybe 15 minutes, then I was off again. Before I left, I asked one of the station workers if I was the last runner, and he said there were about 20 behind me. That didn’t seem possible, but I had no reason to doubt him, so off I went. By now I’d been traveling by myself for a while. I’d pass or get passed now and then and exchange a few words, but I was alone most of the time. I was fine with that for now, not wanting to get off my pace. So far I was running the downs, walking fast the flats, and putting along on the uphills. The first 6 ½ hours, I was in and out of the forest. More boulder fields, more gullies, but after a bit, I was completely out of the tree line and solely in the blast zone and plodding through rock and ash/dirt. Each step sending up a puff of dust. The heat was also becoming an issue. This landscape soaked up the heat of the sun and was keeping me sweaty and mindful of hydrating as much as possible. I was using my INFINIT blend of drink, which worked well. I had a full 60 ounces on my back, plus another 17 ounces on my chest. I had 2 containers on my chest, one of which could filter water, which got it’s fair amount of use when a stream presented itself.
The terrain between Blue Lake and Windy Ridge aid station was unworldly. The amount of climbing, mixed with the heat was taking a toll. It occurred to me that I had been training on hills at home to prepare me for mountains. It seemed to have worked for Leadville a few years ago, but my knees and back were in much better shape then, and I wondered if my body was up to this much harder of a race. It wouldn’t take much longer to figure it out. I feel like I want to describe the crazy landscapes at this point, but there really is no way to justify it. The strangest part was that I felt like the only person left on earth at times. I was on some flat plains a few times, having to climb in and out of steep river gullies, and could see for a mile or more in any direction. There wasn’t a sole. Was I last? Maybe. I didn’t care. I was still moving and the worse part of being alone was that I couldn’t share this weird landscape with anyone else. I always seemed to be going UP twice as much as DOWN, and the sun was not being friendly. The switchbacks up the sides of the blast zone were crazy steep and except for the alien chirps of the grasshoppers, this world seemed void of life. I was really looking forward to when the sun went down and this heat would let up. In the back of my mind I realized this was only DAY 1, and Days 3 and 4 were supposed to be MUCH hotter, and more exposed. I set my sights on getting to the next aid station and seeing my crew.
Windy Ridge Aid Station is an “out and back” station that mostly uphill on the way in. It also curves around a mountain counterclockwise. As I headed towards the station, the dirt path/roadway was on the edge of the mountain that looked down into a valley and for miles and miles. The sun was setting fast, and to my right I could see nights’ shadow creeping up Mt. Adams. Eventually, I started to see people coming towards me, heading back down the hill, who had already been to the aid station. These were the people closest to being in front of me. I wondered if I’d pass anyone on my way back out. With less than 100 yards to the station, Mary, Stephanie and Jon met me. It was SO SO good to see their faces. It had been 11 hours and 20 minutes and 30 miles ago. I wasn’t hurting or tired, yet, but it was still a boost to see them, especially being by myself for so long. I’m fine with being alone, but if I had the choice, I’d rather be with friends, and these were the best a person could hope for. They walked me down to the station, and as they did, I noticed they were all dressed for what seemed like winter. I was still in a tank top. That was weird, but as we rounded a corner, the temperature seem to drop and the wind REALLY picked up. As warm as I felt from pushing along, I could tell I’d be cold as soon as I stopped moving. Karen had a seat ready for me as soon as I arrived, and as I sat down, they all went to work. New socks, food, shirt…..I could tell they were ready to take care of me, but also get me back out there. I don’t know if it was because I was so far back in the pack, the this aid station seemed to be breaking down it’s tables and not really jumping in to help, at least compared to the station before, and the ones after. I was starting to get cold from not moving, and put on to much warm clothing, but I knew I could take some off as I went. My hydration pack was refilled as well as my front bottle, then we took a look inside the station’s tent. There were a few people sitting inside, runners maybe, but no workers. There was loads of food on the tables, but it all looked pretty old by now, and not very appealing. I should mention that during these big events, my appetite goes almost completely away, so something has to look pretty awesome for me to jump at it. Karen had a zip lock with some cold pizza, which I had previously requested. I knew this would be the one food I could make myself eat, even if I wasn’t hungry, so I had 2 slices. They tried to push more food at me, but I just didn’t want any. I knew if I kept at my Infinit drink, it would take care of me, but I had to stay on top of that. Calories are important on these adventures. Finally it was time to leave my friends. Stephanie asked/told me she was coming with me at the next crewed aid station. Our first plan was to leave me uncrewed until mile 65, Norway Pass, but I quickly gave in. It would be great to have her company, since this was going a bit differently than I pictured. With a kiss from Mary, I felt the weight of my full pack again as I headed off into the dark and the cold. I kept my headlamp off for the next 20 minutes or so, just taking in the stars.
The next section was bleak. It was night, so there wasn’t much to see. I was in mostly exposed areas on the side of hills or lifeless plains. I had to watch my footing, where the trail was, and try to keep to the path. For the next 3 hours, the only runner I saw was the one going into Windy station as I was leaving. Other than that, I was so completely alone in such a large, large swath of earth, it felt weird. I imagined how some people might get a little scared in a situation like this, but it was either be ok with it, or start thinking about American Werewolf in London, and go full batshit crazy. I tried to keep those thoughts at bay and concentrate on moving forward. I was actually beginning to feel a bit tired and imagined taking a little nap soon, maybe at the next station. That would be nice.
At 12:30am I rolled into the parking lot at Johnson Ridge Aid Station. I got my “aid stations” messed up in my head and thought this was a “sleeping” area, but as I approached, I heard music and cowbells and thought, “If this is an aid station, then there are some pissed-off people trying to sleep.” I was really looking forward to 20 or 30 minutes of napping, but I was still a long way from that being able to happen. There were 16 more miles between me and Cold Water Station. Crap. The volunteers here were over the top nice and helpful. They had a fire going, and that was hard to look at and not want to just huddle around for the next hour, but I needed to get moving. I filled my pouches with water and Infinit, had some noodle soup, and was in and out in 15 minutes. No need to goof around here.
Most of the next pass was very open territory, and if there were beautiful views to see, then the darkness swallowed them up. Just trying to stay on the trail was my biggest concern as it wasn’t overly well-marked. My best bet was to find footprints on the ground and just follow them. Once I went into a river gully, crossed the river and climbed back out, but there were no markings or footprints. I went straight for about 30 yards, but still nothing to suggest I was on a trail. Finally, I got out my TOPO map on my phone, and it showed I was off course by about 50 yards, so I went up and down some little hills, putting myself back on the correct path. (Note: everyone in the race had to download a map to their phone of the course. This could be used entirely by GPS and didn’t need a cell signal. It helped us out more than once.) When I finally arrived, it was definitely a used path and I wondered how I missed it. Finally, after a few hours, I began to get into some wooded areas, and I thought about taking a “trail nap”, but by that time, I was just over an hour from the aid station, where I could get fixed up and take a more comfortable nap in the vehicle. This seemed like the better choice, so I plodded on. Finally, I reached a road and was making my way up to the entrance to the side road that led to the aid station. I saw a few cars also turning in, but it was 3am and I didn’t realize at the time that one of those cars was my crew. They were doing some extreme driving to meet me at these stations, and I wasn’t sure who was having the harder time here. Eventually, that answer was ME, but up to now, it was a toss-up. I met the team as they were getting things unpacked. I told them I needed a nap now, so they made me a little nest in the back of the SUV and I hopped in. Steph reminded me that she was going to pace me next, and I was overwhelmingly happy about this. I took an hour's nap, which I slept most of. Mary woke me up, and though it only felt like I had just closed my eyes, I knew I had several dreams, so REM was taken care of and like it or not, it was time to get back out there. I put on some new socks(which we always changed) and some dry shirts, and off we went. Finally, I wasn’t alone anymore, which was such a relief. There is only so long a person can entertain oneself, and I was ready for a pacer. Stephanie had me for the next 19 miles. I was going to be a handful, but we had put in so many hours and miles together up to this point, that there really wouldn’t be many surprises, which felt great.
The best thing you can say about this part of the route, at least up to this part, is the views are spectacular. Stephanie certainly earned being able to join me for this part. She had put in so many weekends of long miles and weekdays of Mt. Adams in Cincinnati, that this was a worthy payoff. As the sun came up, the way the sun was lighting up the mountains was worth many a picture. I hope Stephanie snapped a few, because I was starting to lose my sense of humor. We were on a flat portion that circled the lake, which was a welcome change from the moonscape I’d been in for so long during the night. , I loved the views and appreciated the opportunity to look at landscapes that maybe come once in a lifetime, but I was wearing thin. My back was getting noticeably worse by the hour and my knees weren’t overtly excited either. My ability to bend to go under trees in the path, or go over them, was getting harder and harder. I told Steph how I thought 20-year-old Jim would be disappointed at how bad 57 year old Jim turned out. I really never saw this coming, at least not at this age. Sure….70 or 80, but not in my late 50s. It was pissing me off. I really had to do “something” about this for the long run, but for the very short term, it was making this race so much harder than it would have been just 2ish years ago. On the other hand, 2ish years ago, I wasn’t smart enough to know how to run this race properly, not that I was actually doing that now…..which was also pissing me off. We had a great plan to get me 200+ miles, but it wasn’t going the way we all imagined. In the end, it was coming down to how little sleep I had and how bad I was feeling this “early” into the race. Stephanie kept pointing out views to behold, but I was slowly drifting into those dark places that begin to take over your thoughts when shit starts to get hard or painful. It’s one of those battles in your head that goes on for hours and hours. You try to think of all the training you did, and help you’ve received and people at home rooting for you, but then the heat, and pain and reality of how many miles are in front of you keep taking up more space in your head.
At one point we had to climb this very short, but very steep out and back, seemingly to have someone take our picture at the top. For a race that was already over 200 miles, this just seemed unnecessary. When we reached the top, the view was “almost” worth the climb. We got our pictures taken and then sat on a rock for a minute, taking in the views. Just before we headed down, the photographer assured us that we’d be mostly going downhill until the Aid Station. After a few miles, I decided this was a gigantic lie. I think Stepanie agreed. We were also in the blazing heat, looking for any small lonely tree to give us a little shade so I could stretch for a minute or two. I was pushing harder than I wanted, so I had to tell Steph we needed to slow down, even if it meant we missed cutoffs. I either had it in me or I didn’t. I was starting not to give a shit, and that’s a dangerous place to be, especially when you haven’t even reached the halfway point. In the distance, maybe 100 yards beyond the trail, we began seeing areas of snow. I really wanted to be lying in that snow, and after a few more turns, we came to a little bend where there was some at the edge of the trail. Heaven sent!!!! We stopped and used it to cool off. I put some down my shirt and on top of my buff that I had on my head. Steph made a snow cone. For a moment, we were both very very happy. We soon took off and it dawned on me that I could have filled both of my front, collapsible water bottles with the snow for some nice cold water to drink. The infinit was pretty hot by this time, and I’ve been told that it’s fairly nasty even when chilled, although I seem to enjoy it. We both hoped a new pile of snow would present itself. Another 10 minutes went by and our prayers were answered again. We must be doing ok with the powers beyond for them to grant us this little gift a second time. This time I filled both bottles and Steph had more too, but we had to get moving, slow or not. This is also the time I had my first and only hallucination. We were coming to a small thicket of trees. Under one of the trees, in the shade, a girl in a brown floppy hat, sunglasses and brown shirt was standing there with her camera. There had been several people stationed around the course taking pictures, so I assumed she was there, staying in the shade, taking pictures. Stephanie was about 10 yards ahead of me and went into the little tree area. I decided I’d ask the photographer how far to the aid station when I got to the trees. As I rounded the corner, Stephanie was waiting for me in the shade. I asked her if she saw the photographer. She said there was no photographer. At first I thought she had just missed seeing her, but as I looked through the brush, it was apparent no one was there. WOW! We both started laughing about my first little brain fart. The brain is hilarious.
It was soon after this that my brain went pretty dark and the evil voices began to win. I tried to beat them away, and maybe it was the lack of sleep and the heat, but they finally took over. I was not happy about how this was going. I tried to look on the bright side a bit. My knees were doing “ok”. My back wasn’t great, but it wasn’t getting worse either. However, I was moving slower than I wanted. I was certainly a few hours ahead of cut-off, so I wasn’t crazy bad, but I couldn’t imagine this going on for 140+ miles and 2 ½ more days. Not like this and not like what was surely coming. Steph was a bit ahead of me and I told her to stop. We had to talk. I told her I was done with this and ready to throw in the towel at the next aid station. She immediately blamed herself, not realizing this was a battle I had been having in my own head for many hours. No, she had zero to do with this. No amount of talking or fun stories was going to make this go away. She told me to not make any decisions yet and to wait until we got to the aid station. I agreed but really didn’t think I wanted to be here doing this any longer. This wasn’t so much a physical pain that was making me want to stop, it was a combination. Sleep, heat, exhaustion of a kind that was from the constant climbing and then the pounding of trying to run on the downs. It was taking a toll like I hadn’t experienced before. In my mind, I was done.
There was a small section before we got to the Norway Aid Station that was in the forest. I think THIS was the way most of us pictured the race being the majority of the time, not the exception. It was a nice relief. We were coming up to the end of our run together, and I was happy Steph had gotten to see the course. The good and the bad, but I was less than my usual happy self for most of our time. We both realized why, but I don’t enjoy being this pissy. I rolled into the parking lot of the station, tossed my polls, sat down in the camp chair and declared I was done. Mary asked if she wanted me to go with her next, and I said I didn’t care. What I said and what I meant were entirely two different things. I DIDN’T CARE about the race anymore and I didn’t intend to continue, but even I knew that sounded bad, but I was just exhausted. Thank goodness everyone understood my frustration and let that one slide. I have good people, and especially a good wife and partner. She continued to get dressed for pacing and told me we were going out. Fine. I knew I could physically go back out. I could probably do another 40 or 50 miles, but why? I needed well over a hundred and that wasn’t going to happen, so why prolong the inevitable? I had given up on me, but my team hadn’t. I realized on one side of my brain all of the rational points to be made for getting back out there. It’s all of the same arguments I’d be making if it were one of them sitting in this chair. But the other side of my head was toasted. Ok, it was time to go back out there with Mary for 11 miles. At least she would get to see and experience some of this course firsthand. She had put in a lot of training miles for this race, she deserved to see it for herself, but all I could think of was the 4 or 5 hours it was going to take to do it. Jon was a super trooper at this station. My feet were a dusty wreck, but he managed to find a well and pump some surprisingly VERY cold water to soak and clean my feet with. Man, I owe him some big favors for cleaning me up! He put me back together, and with some new socks, we were ready for whatever came next.
It was about 3pm. It was still uncomfortably hot out, but I stretched a bit and then we headed out. Through a little wooded patch, across the road and into some sparse patches of light trees, but some ok tree cover. This soon turned into more of a forest, and that made it much more comfortable. Mary was keeping a good pace ahead of me and she seemed to be having an easy time of it. I, on the other hand, was struggling. Every time we had a tree across the path, we had to pick whether to go over or under. Both of these options were getting tougher and tougher. GEEEZ US! This should NOT be this hard, especially with 130+ miles to go. After about the 5th tree, I mentally just threw in the towel. Shit. All I could think of was all of the things that were hurting and wondering how I was going to last 2 ½ more days when I felt this bad already? So many bad thoughts were overtaking my head. Ones that I could usually bargain and deal with, but this time they were winning out. Was it the sleep? I’d gone 53 hours before and still didn’t feel this shitty, but the conditions were much different. My friends had put so much time and effort into this trip, and now I wanted to quit? But if I just stop now, maybe we could actually salvage this trip and have a good time, instead of watching me destroy myself, still not finish, and not have enough time or enough ME left to do anything. This was NOT what I thought was going to happen.
Mary and I got to talk about stuff along the way, which was one of the best parts of the race. We don’t do much hiking together, but we do bike and have fun. This was much different though. Eventually, I told her to wait for a moment. We had about an hour or so to go, but my race was done. I told her this was it. When we got back, I was throwing in the towel. She wasn’t going for it though. Like Steph, she wanted me to get back to the aid station, have a rest and then decide after sleeping a bit. There was no sense arguing, so I said ok. We plodding along at the best pace I could muster, but it was pretty slow by any standard. I was still 3 or 4 hours ahead of cut-offs, but that was going to slip away quickly at this pace, especially if I started to catch up on some much overdue sleep. I was coming up on 35 hours of race time and only 1 hour of sleep. Given the amount of effort I had put in so far, something was going to give soon.
We finally got about a hundred yards from the aid station and there was an air horn on a bench and a sign telling us to blow the horn so they knew we were coming in. I picked up the horn and gave it a short, but very loud burst. I could hear the people at the aid station laugh. For me, it felt like those tv shows about the military guys who are made to blow the horn when they give up on their training because it was to hard. Whatever. We made it to the Elk Pass station, and once again, I told them I was done, but the team wanted me to have a 2 or 3 hour sleep and see how I felt afterward. Ok. They helped me across the parking lot to the SUV, shoved me inside and told me they would come to get me in a few hours. I was in and out of sleep, but managed to grab enough to not be in a shitty mood when Mary came to wake me up. She asked how I felt, and I told her I was ok, but this was over. I wanted to turn in my GPS tracker and tell them it was over, but walking wasn’t easy. She said she would do it for me, so eventually, I relented. My Garmin said I had traveled 72.8 miles. This aid station was supposed to be at mile 76.3. I didn’t really care. For the most part, I had been awake for around 39 hours, sleeping 1 hour in the middle of the race and 2ish in the end that I didn’t count as part of my race, but since we didn’t announce the end of my race until after my nap, they clocked me DNF at 38ish hours, not that it mattered.
What happened? After having a few weeks to sort this out, I’ve come to some conclusions. These ONLY apply to me, so if anyone ever reads this who is contemplating such a race, read this and tread lightly. First, I think I needed to be doing 2 or 3 trail training sessions that lasted at LEAST 3 days each. Being out there for days at a time takes some wrapping your head around, and I should have tested that out beforehand. Second. Try as I did here in the Greater Cincinnati area, I was training on hills for a race that took place in the mountains. Although I was able to barely pull this off for Leadville, that was a 30 hour race, so I could put more effort into a shorter period of time there. Not on this one. I was at a disadvantage here and that’s no ones fault. I suppose I could have used our nearby Smokey Mountains to train in for several long weekends, but that’s some wisdom for another day. Third. I didn’t account for being in such hot, exposed areas for such a long time. I had pictured much more shaded forest, but it was the opposite for about 90 percent of the race I finished. Forth, sleep. I had always intended to be catching some short cap naps here and there, but that didn’t happen. Sometimes the mental part can make up for the physical part, or vice versa, but when they both get hammered, there’s just nothing to fall back on, which leads to the last part. I was hurting. My stupid back, for all of the shots and Aleve, wasn’t holding up. That was really pissing me off as much as anything. I decided to dive heavy into some doctor time as soon as I got home. There has to be something out there to fix this shit.
So that was it. The saving grace to this entire adventure was we had such a great vacation afterward. The team put the same amount of gusto into planning our next few days as we did for the race. I don’t regret the race even a little bit. I’m a better person for it in countless ways. The training, the adventures and the fun we had was priceless. We would have never planned such a trip out west together without a race to get us there, but now we know we have fun together without a race and are already planning our next trip, no running involved. Maybe I can get myself back to some kind of shape to pull these off again one day. Maybe not. Either way, I’ll always be ready for some new adventure, and I have some great friends to share them with…..plus, I have a lot of “paying it back” time to make up for. Jon? Stephanie?
What would you do differently?:
Train in mountainous conditions for several days on end.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
I found the thing that beat me.
Last updated: 2022-02-01 12:00 AM
2023-02-08 8:43 AM
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Destination Trail Run
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