Monday, August 22, 2011

Waldo 100 km - DNF!

I'm starting to think that there is a connection with me DNF'ing + 100 km distance + races that start with the letter "W"?

No in all honesty, the reason I DNF'd is simple yet multifaceted but here is the long/short of it.

Since injuring my ankle 7 weeks ago, my training has been less than stellar. I haven't been able to do much downhill at all instead have been more focusing on just being able to run (for my own sanity). Normally, I tailor my training towards the race I am doing and in this case that would have involved a lot more climbing and descending as well as many more miles on my feet.

My decision leading up to the race was a bit blurred. Given the above circumstances, I was unsure whether I should race at all. I continued to train, pain free, as best I could. I went to physio the Tuesday of race week, and my physio decided that although she wouldn't say "don't race", she implied that it would be best if I didn't. I think she was more worried that I may compensate for my ankle and injure something else.

Obviously, the last thing anyone wants is to be injured. Having been injured in the past, nothing is worse then being sidelined, especially in summer. However, I had been feeling really good, in terms of the ankle, and what not, just not as fit as I would like to be. Regardless, there was a brief moment where I decided not to race. Needless to say, that was very short lived. As bad as this sounds, I really was gunning for another WS100 spot and I read that Amy Sproston had dropped, due to making the USA World Cup 100km Team. She was definitely someone I was going to be chasing and the fact that she withdrew from the race played heavily on my mind. Looking back, I can now see how extrinsically motivated this is and it's easy to get fixated on something like this which can ruin the experience of racing and being in the mountains.

In the end, I figured, what do I have to lose? I can always drop if my body goes haywire. I have seen too many under-trained runners tow the line and pull off amazing results, anything was possible. I HAD to try. I think I would REGRET not trying. So, I departed North Van with my friend Chris Downie, and we drove half way and slept in a motel for the night. The next day, we drove the rest of the way to Oakridge. Oakridge is a cute small town of about 3000 people and apparently it is the Mountain Biking capital of the NW. We stayed at the Cascade Motel ($60/2 beds) which I would highly recommend. It is approximately a 25-30 min drive to the Start line at Willamette Ski Resort. We arrived early, with some time to kill because our room was not quite ready. We were told about some hot springs (clothing optional) just up the road. I have never been in a hot springs and I was pretty stoked! There were a few different pools parallel to the river, so we had a little hot/cold thing going on. We kept our clothes on, but there were many who were walking about naked, which was awesome!

After a quick dinner, that we made back at the motel (they have a BBQ), we were off to package pick-up/race briefing. They did a great job getting everyone excited and prepared for the next day and I left there, stoked to be running the following day.

We woke up at 3am, ate, and headed over to the start. It was dark and fairly mild out. Starting in a tank and shorts was perfect. No arm warmers or second layer needed. The race pretty much starts straight up and from the minute we started heading up, I could feel the altitude. I know from past races at altitude, even 5000 feet, that it hits me. This race starts at 5000 and climbs, topping up just over 7000, which isn't terrible. I ran/walked this section and as I was passed, tried to remind myself that there was 100km to go! Once we got into the flowy single track, I started cruising. I was in my happy place and was passing people all over, without much effort. I passed 4 women and after the first aid station I was in 3rd, right where I wanted to be to get that WS100 spot.

However, after A1, you climb, and it's gradual, with lot's of steeper pitches. The female behind me was a strong climber and she passed me (easily) right away, which was a bit discouraging but we all have our strengths. This section was arduous and my moral was definitely dropping. I felt like I was moving at a snail's pace, literally. I did the best I could up to Mt. Fuji but negative thoughts starting playing games in my head. I could see the leaders on their way back down from Fuji so I had an idea of where I was in the pack. I was in 4th, which was not a bad place to be in, but to me, today, I wanted to be in the top 3. Instead of fighting, I started fading. I filled up my 1.5L camelbak and grabbed my fuel from my drop bag and left A2. I've been using the same pack for years, but when I left the aid station, it felt like it weighed 100 lbs. Usually, it feels weightless, but not today.

The section from A2 to A3 was a section that I normally would enjoy and thrive in. It was runnable with a few rolling ups but mainly downs. My body felt like it was already 40 miles into a 50 miler, but in reality I wasn't even 20 miles into this 100km. How could my legs be this tired and sore this early? My mind started doubting my body. I started thinking: (1) you are not fit enough (2) your going to get injured (3) your not going to catch the leaders and get that WS100 spot (4) acid reflux already (5) you are not having any fun. These thoughts literally clowded my mind for over an hour and half. My body was moving, holding pace with a lady who had passed me, but my mind was at a stand still.

For those who know me, I am a pretty positive person, and I like to be that way. This person who was running however, was not me and I was not about to spend the next 7-8 hours in self loathing. Here I was in the this beautiful place, but I couldn't even enjoy it for a second. I was too fixated on the outcome of the day versus why it is that I run. I tried to gain motivation from the early starters that I was passing on the course, but that wasn't even working. I kept trying to talk myself into continuing on, just running the rest of it for fun, but in the end, I couldn't beat this funk. I got to A3, sat down, and just started crying. I was done. I was done beating myself up. I didn't want to do it anymore. The minute I stopped, the negative thoughts stopped, and I was able to enjoy what was going on around me. I even contemplated continuing on because it was the first time all day that I wasn't in my head. However, I chose not to.

I think there are factors that lead to thinking like this: (1) I do believe that I wasn't prepared enough for the outcome I was looking for and I wasn't able to run/race like I know I can, which can be discouraging. Perhaps if I had kept going I would have come around, but it also could have lead to injury like my physio suggested. I mean, my body felt like crap at 20 miles. (2) I do much better when I don't fixate on outcomes. Running, only for the sole purpose of wanting a WS100 entry, is not a good strategy for me.

In the end, I am glad I put myself out there because I have no regrets. I don't even regret not continuing because I can learn from that experience. My ankle was a tad swollen after the event, so who knows what it would have been like after 7-8 more hours of running on it. I think I'll take some time and let it get back to being 100% so I know both mentally and physically I am ready to rock when the time comes.

Congrats to everyone who finished. Aliza, you are a rockstar! Congrats to Darla and Denise who earned their spots in WS100, I know they wanted it bad. Lastly, congrats to GT Downie who came 4th overall, 2nd masters. Dave Mackey is an animal. Thanks Craig, Meghan,Curt and all the amazing volunteers who put their time and energy into this race. Those Margaritas post DNF were just what the doctor ordered!

See you in the trails!

1 comment:


So glad you have no regrets. You are young, and have plenty of races ahead of you. I'll share a 'deep quote' from my father- it used to bug me, but now I get it:
" Oh Well "