Hardrock, soft mind.
My training leading up to the event seemed pretty solid. I spent a good amount of time at higher elevations, lots of steep miles while running and while hiking with my daughter Penny on my back.
Leading up to the race was different this year. I wasn’t hanging out in Silverton for a couple weeks leading up to race day, which was kind of nice. I missed seeing a bunch of friends like I have the previous two times I’ve run this race, when I did stay in Silverton prior to race day. Now I live in Ouray, one mile from the aid station at mile 56 of the counter-clockwise course. I didn’t have to take weeks off of work to head out and acclimate. My friends and family came to support me, and we got to hang out in my house. This was nice and mellow compared to the buzz in Silverton leading up to race day.
The race started and everything seemed to be happening as expected. Then G.I. distress reared its ugly head. I felt okay leaving Grouse Gulch with my pacer, Graham, ran most of the first half of the climb, then felt horrible for the second half of the climb, feeling dizzy and tired. I puked at Engineer Pass and slowly ran down to Ouray.
|Not tough enough. Chamoun helping me out at the Ouray aid station.|
pc: Erik Schulte
I needed to sit and eat a bit, regroup. Suddenly I got really cold even though it wasn’t cold out. I laid on a cot, was covered by a couple sleeping bags, but kept shivering for quite a while and was breathing fast. My blood pressure was taken and it was a bit low. Eventually I was able to eat and put down four bowls of chicken noodle soup. In hindsight I didn’t spend much time at aid stations before Ouray, and probably wasn’t taking in enough calories up until this point. Most of the calories I did take in were from drinking Tailwind from aid stations. This worked well for a while, but I think 12 hours of drinking sweet liquid put my stomach over the edge.
After hours of feeling like crap on the course, then lying in the aid station for an hour and a half or so, my mind became progressively pessimistic. I began to justify dropping: I really don’t think I could make it up to Virginius Pass (I bet I could have), I don’t want my wife and friends to drive to Telluride and be stuck there for hours waiting for me since I would obviously be moving at a snails pace (they kept telling me not to worry about that), if I dropped I could be in bed in minutes and I would get to wake up with my wife, daughter, friends and parents at my house, and spend the next day with them.
My wife talked me into walking out of the aid station to see if I would snap out of it. My pacer, Erik, and I trotted up Camp Bird Rd. I was feeling a lot better than when I arrived at the aid station. I was much more clear-headed. When we’d stop to chat with runners passing me I would unintentionally start falling over a bit and catch myself with my trekking poles. I used that as another excuse to drop. So after a couple miles of whining up the road I finally threw in the towel and turned around.
The other two years I ran Hardrock I also went through times of feeling absolutely horrible, and really thinking that I there was no way I could make it, but somehow I did. That’s what Hardrock is all about. Pushing through the misery and surprising yourself by being tougher than you thought you were, doing more than you thought you could. This year, with my warm and comfy bed a mile away, I dropped. Mentally, I couldn’t rationalize pushing through misery for another 20 hours or so. Looking back I wish I would have.
I had the good fortune of being selected to run the race, back in December of last year, and not a day had passed that I hadn’t thought of Hardrock. I trained 7 days a week most weeks. Adopted a new diet, read a book and many articles on training. Thousands of people want to run this race every year, I was lucky enough to be selected in the lottery, but I blew it – mostly by not soldiering on.
Fortunately, I can take the fresh sting of this embarrassing situation and try and learn from it, by racing the Ouray 100 in 17 days. But first, I get to crew and pace Elissa at the High Lonesome 100 in the Sawatch Mountains, wahoo!