I’ve been putting off writing this blog post – who wants to write about a bad race? Well, technically, it wasn’t a bad race, it was a bad moment in the race. I’m going to make this short and sweet, as I have better posts to write about and have dwelled on this race long enough.
So here’s the pre-race summary: Ben and I had been training pretty heavily on the weekends, rocking out higher-altitude long training runs on the Colorado Trail, Kenosha Pass, etc. I was mentally pumped up after my 51 mile adventure in the Grand Canyon. I knew there would be a lot of “power hiking” and I, we, were ready for it.
Did I mention that Pete surprised me? That little stinker drove through the night to be there at the start :). We headed to the starting line, the gun went off and Ben and I went hiking up Dutch Henri Hill to what would be a beautiful race day.
Short and sweet, I was feeling phenomenal. My pace was a little faster than Ben’s, so I waited for him at the first couple of aid stations and at the turnaround point. At that point, mile 25, we stuck together until I my race took a turn for the worse.
Right around mile 27 is the third ascent of the race – and one of the toughest. I’m pretty sure its grade is right around 13 or 14%. Nuts. Ben and I got in our hiking groove and were doing great – or so I thought. We reached the top and started running down the descent.
I immediately knew something was wrong. I couldn’t catch my breath. There were stars. There was a black lining in the corner of my eyes. Here’s my inner monologue:
Okay Amanda, get yourself together. I don’t know why I’m not recovering right now but just relax. Hands on your knees – take deep breaths. I really want to run right now, but I can’t. Shit.
Yep, that was pretty much it. Shit. My lungs were like raisins, my throat the size of a toothpick, I thought I was going to throw up and pass out all at the same time. It was pretty much one of the scariest moments I’ve had while running.
I decided to pull it back – reel it in, so to speak – and start walking until I felt better. Only problem was, I never felt better. I was breathing really heavily while WALKING DOWNHILL. Any more uphill and I was back to seeing stars and dizzy spells.
I saw Ben again at the next aid station – mile 30 – and explained to him (in a somewhat panic-stricken way) what was happening. He convinced me to try to make it to the next aid station – mile 34 – where Pete and Molly would be. Pete – yes, I can do that – I can make it to Pete.
The next 4 miles were like a death march; a mental fight; a pride-killing, anger-filled walk/run/slog to the aid station. I knew I was done. I had checked out. I was devastated.
I got to the Printer Boy aid station, saw Pete and completely lost it – tears and snot EVERYWHERE. I was a wreck, to put it lightly. As Molly said, and put it ever so smartly:
I had had enough. I was panicking because I didn’t know what was happening, because I couldn’t breath, because I was dizzy, seeing stars and afraid of what was happening to my lungs. Could I have continued? Well isn’t that the million dollar question that’s been nagging at me, and probably many others in similar situations, since I got in the car at mile 34.
The worst part of it all? I felt AMAZING physically. I don’t think I’ve ever been in better shape and ready for an ultra race. At mile 34, my legs were great, my nutrition was awesome and if it weren’t for my stupid lungs I would have rocked those last 16 miles. Damn (still shaking my head).
That’s it – that’s all I’ll say about it. I’ve done enough crying, enough feeling sorry for myself, enough over-analyzing. I can’t say thank you enough to those that sent me positive thoughts and sentiments.
The one that touched my heart the most had to be from the Honorable JJ (Trip Guide at Running Trips Northwest):
Hey, I know you well enough to know that you don’t enter races for the ego boost or the bragging rights. . .you run because you love it, you run for the adventure, you seek new experiences, you appreciate the great outdoors, you respect Nature and don’t pretend to conquer it but rather to understand your place in it as a human animal. . .so I hope you had a good experience at this ultra event. . .no need for apologies from you or condolences from us 🙂
Thank you to everyone that showed their support and words of wisdom and sincerity – it makes my big, fat DNF easier to accept.
On another, much more exciting and positive note, Ben finished his first ultramarathon! That animal finished up the Silver Rush 50 Mile in about 12 hours and 40 minutes. Words can’t even describe how proud I was (and still am) of him crossing that finish line.
Stay tuned for my race recap of the EPIC Rocky Mountain Relay. Ben and I will also be running/speed climbing Long’s Peak this Saturday, the Wild West Relay is the following weekend and then it’s Gore-tex Transrockies time. Whew, what a season it’s been already!