|Top of the first climb, where Alex and Joey were volunteering at the mile-4 aid station. |
(Notice in the background how high above the valley we've climbed.)
|Ascending at mile 2. Pictured is Craig Wilson, who I spent many miles with.|
* My electrolytes were off; having peed only once in the race so far, in minuscule quantities and bright yellow. This is despite emptying a 100-oz camelbak reservoir four times.
* I hadn't eaten enough, causing blood sugar to crash and intensifying my already grumpy mood (that is what the EMT suggested after asking a bunch of questions - and he was right. Stupid rookie mistake.)
* I was facing a 1000-meter rocky technical climb, alone, with exposed sections, on wet surfaces, at night, with severe thunderstorms in the area.
* After that 1000-meter climb, I'd be looking at another 6 miles of rolling terrain at high altitude, similar to that which sucked the life out of me in miles 4-10.
|Upper Fish Creek Falls (~mile 14 going down hill, and mile 46 going up)|
Long story short, after an hour in that aid station and almost 5 hours of slow relentless forward motion I made it to the top - but now I was behind the cutoff with no hope of making it to the mile 65 aid station in time for the hard cutoff there. I could have waited there at mile 50 for a ride down but instead I opted to continue with Amy another 15 miles - staggering in fatigue for the last hour before dawn, and then unable to maintain a 20-minute-per-mile pace downhill. But we did finally arrive there at 10am, two hours late, and I was removed from the race. There is no doubt I would have continued had they let me, but honestly I was facing a 15-hour death-march. I would have preferred the opportunity to death march, but I have to admit - being pulled felt a bit like a mercy shooting.
My progress as an ultrarunner is apparent even through my failure at this race. I worked harder for those 65 miles than I had for 100 miles at Umstead, or 150 miles at Across the Years. I had opportunities to quit at mile 42, 50, and 56, and yet I continued. I was willing to continue past 65 as well. In the past I had quit ultras for less - a lot less - but I opted to keep going until race officials told me to stop. My only regret, in fact, was making a couple of rookie mistakes. I should have known better.
If my situation allows, I'd like to go back next year to take care of some unfinished business.
|This award has my name on it.|