Monday, September 24, 2012

DNF Cascades Crest 100

DNF at mile 34.5

I was sick with a cold, had an iffy knee, but I wanted to run anyway. I'm glad I started, it was a beautiful course with awesome volunteers.

The start was relatively flat along a road, then turned off onto a trail.  A guy fell through plank bridge around mile 2, but he hauled himself out and kept running.  Passing runners told me me to "take it easy to mile 68" and I perhaps too it too literally on the long climb up Goat Peak. The 6,000+ feet of altitude and my cold left me feeling woozy.  

A women came up the trail behind me, and I was happy for her company, asking "How are you doing?"  "I'm doing fine, but I'm the sweep.  How are YOU doing?".  I was stalked by sweep worrying I would get pulled at 10 mile aid station.  I was too afraid to ask if she was pulling me.  I went through an aid station and they didn't tell me to stop so I cruised down the long Forest Service Road rocking out to Paul Oakenfold with Mt Ranier so beautiful in the distance.  Even with the humiliation of getting pulled at mile 10! looming in my mind, I was still happy to be running.  

I passed a white hat runner, and was finally free of sweep around mile 17.  Then onto the PCT, and descending like a breeze through old growth forest (passing two more runners) to Tacoma Pass aid station.

My sister was waiting for me, wanting me to pose for photos, and I was feeling pressed for time and so not in a photogenic mood.  

Over the next 10 miles one of the runners caught up to me.  We both said our lungs hurt.  Gary fell into pace with me, but never passed.  I kept asking  "Do you want to pass?"  "No".  "Do you want to pass?"  "No".   I realized not only was it my sister's first 100, it was her first ultra race AND her first trail race.  What a rude introduction to be crewing grumpy, sick, time pressured me!  "I should have asked my sister to a 50K where I'd be in a better mood and willing to pose for photos". 

We passed a worn out young guy on the way to cheery kids at Snowshoe Butte aid station. My lungs ached with every breath, but when I asked Gary if I looked as bad as the worn out guy he said "NO!".  I wanted to make Stampede before dark, and started pushing as hard as I could on the downhills. Gary said "when you reach back and  press play on your iPod (in my waistband) it's go time for me to keep up with you".  

At Stampede Pass, I collapsed into a chair.  I was wheezing and it was hard to catch my breath.  My legs said go, my lungs said no.  A cute EMT said "Do you want some oxygen?  It'll pep you up!". I thought he was making a joke, but he wasn't.  I asked if taking oxygen would disqualify me, and when Rob (EMT) said no, I popped the oxygen mask on. As I got the oxygen, I started feeling more and more like myself.  Through the mask I could see Gary changing into his night gear with lights and leaving into the dark. I was still 30 minutes ahead of the cutoffs, and debating whether to continue.  Rob dialed the oxygen mask and I started coughing.  I could talk myself into going for another 5, 10 or even 14 miles, but I didn't have another 64 in me.  Charlie (aid station manager) tried to cheer me up.  I dropped.

The next day I dedicated the morning to sulking and wondering if I could have kept pushing and continued with my impromptu pacer, Gary.  Then Margo & I went to the finish line to cheer in runners and pick up my drop bags.  Gary was there, he'd dropped too!  I asked Gary "What would you have done differently"?  "Nothing, I did my best.  I've finished two hundreds (Kettle & Wasatch), and this was harder".  My sister said I'd given it all I had, but I didn't.  I had more to give, I just didn't have 100 miles.  Even at the finish line I was coughing.  

What I would do different
Not run sick (hard to solve)
Ask my crew/ (sister:) ) to be tougher on me and not let me drop unless I really had given it all I had.  
Get stronger on the uphills- need to finish a hilly 50 mile in under 12 hours

 I thought my sister would never want to crew me ever again after my laser focus on drop bags, driving on dusty forest roads, smelling stinky runners (me in particular) and suffering through my bad mood after DNF.  Surprisingly, she said "if you run a race again, am I allowed (!) to crew you?"  Of course!