Thursday, November 1, 2012
Cactus Rose DNF
I did. I DNF'd the Cactus Rose once again, and for now, I have to be okay with that. This DNF makes for my 6th DNF. Not a number I am proud of. Not a number I want to share. But it is what it is.
Saturday morning came early, 3:30 AM, and getting to the start line was non-problematic. At 5:00 AM the GO was given and into the dark and hilly adventure we ran.
The temps were perfect. 44 at the start, high of about 65 for the day. I ran a nice pace, comfortable for the long haul, and visited with many faces I have seen at other races. At one point, I took a small fall on a straight and clear dirt path, quickly got up and kept on going, somewhat embarrassed that I tripped over nothing.
Just past mile 15, I had a nice tumble down one of the hills after slipping on some of the rolling rock. I took a quick assessment of myself and did not note any injuries. So I kept on. I felt pretty good, the hills were becoming more steep and as expected at Cactus Rose, more treacherous. The pace began to slow as I navigated the rolling declines and straight up inclines. As I reached the summit of one of the hills, I noticed I had a significant amount of back pain and as I continued down the hill, my legs seemed to have pain radiating down the hamstrings and into the quads. I took a few advil, but after several hours, I could no longer keep the pain under control. Music didn't help. Walking didn't help. Sitting down and resting didn't help. I felt dizzy and the pain was causing me to feel very nauseous. I tried to throw up a few times, but I couldn't get anything to come up.
As I approached mile 30, I knew I was looking at the prospect of a 16 or 17 hour 50 miler. I thought that I could live with that. I continued to tell myself all of the reasons I needed to keep going and that I was through the worst of the climbing, so coming into Equestrian, mile 35.5, I decided to sit for a bit, get my head together, and then continue on. I made it over to my drop bag and attempted to bend over open it. I could barely move. Sharp pain shot through my legs and brought me to tears. I looked at my pace for the past 2 miles. I was averaging 27:00/miles. At that pace, or probably slower, the last 14 miles would take me about 6 1/2 hours to finish. Common sense told me that continuing would be a very unwise choice. I sat for a bit and had a chat with myself. Could I be happy walking away from this race yet again? Would I regret it? Would I wake up the next day and wish I had suffered through the last 14 miles? I decided I would be happy with what I had and though I was disappointed to not have a medal or a finish, I knew that I had given all that I could into my training and into this race and it was time to call it. I could live with that.
As you can imagine, Sunday morning came and everything looked different. It's always easy to second-guess ourselves after the fact. The reality is, I could not safely continue that race. My mind and heart wanted to, but it would have been irresponsible to do so. Regardless, I wish I had.
I have battled many emotions this week. Aside from the physical recovery, which coupled with the illness I had going into the race, has been more difficult than I expected. My back seems fine, but my legs took a beating. Today is the first day that I felt almost myself. My legs are still sore, but I can navigate stairs again and don't mind walking to the mailbox.
Hearing the typical "you went much further than I ever could" from others doesn't seem to make it any easier. Probably because I trained so hard, so long, and it wasn't enough. I know of others who say they didn't train as much as they should have, and seemed to have a great race. While I know I had the unfortunate experience of falling, I still feel like with the training I put in, I should have been able to gut this one out.
Am I a true trail runner? I can finish races at Huntsville, but elsewhere, my odds are not that good.
I am taking some time off to heal. Physically. Mentally. I need the break. I am looking at what it is exactly I am trying to do out there anymore. Do I want to put myself through this challenge again? Do I want to race again? Do I want to run just for the joy of it without a goal of a distance or time?
Running soothes my soul, racing is killing my love of running. And each DNF steals a bit more of my confidence.
I don't know where the journey will lead next. I do know that my family has given up a lot of time with me for me to do this stuff and this stuff does not seem to be serving me well of late. I will focus the next few weeks getting things back to normal around the home and learning to run for the love of the run once more.