My not so DNF 24 hour adventure
We camped out the night before and had a great time around the fire until about 9:30 pm when everyone retreated to their tents for the night. The race would start at 9 am in the morning. The weather for the race looked somewhat daunting but the rain was supposed to clear out by about 2 pm that day. During the night, however, it poured. Like, I thought our tent was going to cave in, poured! We had our 2 dogs with us, and they kept us warm until BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! The sound of 4 shotgun shells shook the campground and everyone emerged from their little half dome forest to see what was all the clatter. There was a rifle range not too far from the camp, and they certainly let us know they were there! Good morning wet, cold, raining, race day!
I cooked a nice breakfast of a freeze dried egg white omelet, which was rather dry, and got my pack together for the run. My husband, Rudy, ran to the store for more water, dog blankets (they were miserable in the cold... spoiled actually), and some cold medicine for me so I didn't cough my lungs out during the race. I was planning on staying out there for 24 hours, even if it was raining, and cold, and miserable. I wanted that belt buckle!
After a slower than normal national anthem and about 150 cold shivering athletes waiting to start, the horn blew and we were off! I settled in for a nice easy hundred mile pace and walked all the hills to save energy. My plan was to go 7 laps at a time and take a longer break every 14 laps or so. The first 7 laps went well, but felt a lot longer than I had hoped. It rained on us the whole time during those first 5 hours or so. My Altra Lone Peak 1.5s held up quite nicely and I was slogging through the mud like a champ. I came in after my 7th lap feeling good and refueled my pack, changed my socks, and headed out for more. At this point, the 150 athletes had done anywhere from 3-8 laps each and the course was getting rather sloppy. The rain hadn't relented until about 2 pm, so there was a plethora of different types of mud on the course. This is when I began to study the mud, wonder what the others were doing, and get inside my head, which proved to be my ultimate downfall.
Apparently there are many different types of mud. There's gray mud, pine straw mud, leafy mud, red slick mud, red sloppy wet mud, sticky gray mud, loud squishy mud, and mud you would surely lose your shoe in if you didn't have the right trajectory. And then there were puddles. Lots and lot of puddles. As I slowly made my way up and down the drainage ditch trails, I began to ask myself why I was doing this. Every step felt like 2, and my legs felt like they did at mile 100 of my 200 miler! With all the mud and soaking wet shoes, the feet got heavier and heavier with each and every step. 5 laps into my second set of 7, I decided I needed a little break. So as I came around for my lap counter, I took off to our pop up tent and hopped into the compression boots a friend had let me borrow. 2 cycles later, I laced up my shoes again with new dry socks and headed out, only to feel just slightly better, but on a worse course. The trails were getting worse and worse with each lap and even though I was letting the trail dictate my line, trying not to control it too much, every single step was a recipe for disaster. The slipping and sliding all over the place was intolerable and I was astounded at those still running at this point. They must have felt much better than me, because this was ridiculous! Running the downhills was actually easier but the sliding from side to side made me appreciate my Crossfit endurance training for hip stability!
As I came around for my 13th lap, I grabbed a friend that had come to run with some people and told him to run with me. I needed company as I was easily talking myself out of running any more. Jerry ran with me and kept me company as we laughed and talked about times in the past. He found a new line through the forest that wasn't as bad as the trail but we still had to get on the trail at some points, which was even more slippery than before. Jerry stuck it out, ran 2 laps with me, and then I took off for another one on my own. At this point it was getting dark and the rain had stopped. The trail wasn't looking any better and I decided to call it quits at 50 miles. On the way out for my last lap, I grabbed another friend who was coming in to finish his 50k and we set off on one last lap. I was hoping I could talk myself into running though the night, but it just wasn't happening. My foot hurt too bad, I was solely walking, and I didn't want to ruin a season because I was stupid or stubborn. I have done 200 miles, I have done a race over 24 ours, and I wasn't going to get my goal of 100 miles, so why continue? Plus, the lead chick passed me just as I was finishing my lap, and she was still running!! That biatch!
So I came around to the aid station, told my husband that I was done, and told the counters that I was done. They convinced me to go take a shower, take a rest, and come back in the morning to run some more. I was in 2nd place overall with 50 miles. But as I drank a beer, took a cold ass shower, and went back to the tent to sleep for a couple hours, the chatter inside my head began again. It was cold, wet, windy, and our tent had water in it now! And the dogs were completely miserable. I looked at Rudy and told him I just wanted to go home. It was 11 pm before we got all of our stuff packed, but we headed home in the warm dry car. I was sorry and mad at myself for quitting, but at the same time, I wasn't. I ran 50 miles in that slop. My foot hurt too badly to run, and walking was just miserable. I could've stayed and run more in the morning, but being home in my own bed, was absolutely amazing. I will go out for more at a later date since I have a couple more races on the radar. I even want to attempt 4 100s next year, so we shall see if that can be done. In the end, though, I learned many lessons from this race, as I do from every single race I run:
1) Never under estimate the power of dry socks, some toe lube, and gaiters
2) Don't push past what you know is an inevitable injury just for a belt buckle. It will ruin you.
3) Be prepared for anything. We weren't as prepared for the crappy weather as we should have been.
4) Bring a pacer or two, or three. My best laps and least mental, were those that I had someone else to run with. Or, I just need to make friends with people and run with them!
I will come back for more of One Epic next year. But for now, I have my sights set on other goals, and improving my mental toughness for future races. I love running ultras, and won't stop now. I just need to work some things out within myself first.
"12 hours of One Epic" (Inspiration from Maci Fahring)
On the # hour of running, One Epic gave to me:
1 pair of Altra Lone Peaks
2 brand new blisters
3 bridge crossings
4 pairs of socks
5 shotgun shells
6 Honey stinger waffles
7 types of mud
8 hours raining
9 days worth clothing
10 undrunken beers
11 cords of wood
12 hours of running
(to the tune of 12 Days of Christmas)