Sunday, June 9, 2013

DNF at mile 75-Old Dominion 100- thoughts on why I failed and why i'm running it again in 2014

Sometimes even the best laid plans--- 
  I had really done my homework,  even did extra credit, studied hard for 5 months, prepared from virtually every angle , got a great nights sleep and not much test anxiety at all----  confident that things would go well for me. 

well, it's like any " final exam nightmare" The professor proctors the exam, you nervously look around at your classmates, you pick up your pencil and begin: First couple pages are a breeze, you turn the page and wait!! this was NOT in the text, was it on the syllabus?! did you miss that day? you turn to the next page, and the next.. nothing looks familiar. A pit grows in your stomach as you get that sinking feeling, although you are going to try to wing it,  that this could be bad REALLY bad for your overall grade.   :( 

That was pretty much the scenario at Old Dominion 100. I trained very hard for 5 months. I drove up during MMT and ran and drove over parts of the course, I was injury free, I ate super healthy, I tapered. I geeked out over the map, my gear, my nutrition, I assembled my rock star crew of my brother, his wife and brock, I had sophie as my "safety runner" this was going to be like clock work. Grindstone part deux. 

I knew my one disadvantage was going to be the legendary "heat" of Old Dominion 100. I had heard  stories of high drop out rates/ low finish rates. But I had a plan: I drove to asheville a couple times a month and did bikram yoga all winter and spring. I sat in the sauna and steam room ( even did some exercises in the sauna) at least once a week.  Deep down I was worried as the temperatures this spring just never seemed to warm up. We had an unseasonably cool spring in southwest Va. Even 7 days before Old Dominion, I ran bill gatton freedom 5k before the gu clinic, it was 40F at the start. 

Also, I had never ran really long distances in extreme heat.  I know 2011 Highlands sky 40 it was 80F and I was dunking my head in the ice bucket at every  aid station. The next year, it was much cooler with high 60F an I ran an hour faster. I completely attributed the weather ( and knowledge of the course) for getting in there so much faster. 
So what would 100 miles in 90F and 90% humidity feel like?? I had no idea. I had a bucket, told my crew to get ice. I made sure I had bandanas  to tie with ice around my neck. made sure i had plenty of S!caps, Gu brew tablets and filled my hydration pack with smart water. 
 I still really felt like while it would be an epic challenge and extremely hard, I knew I could finish. I'm tough. Im tenacious, I can take a beating. I can be positive when it hurts like hell and keep moving. 

  I arrived at woodstock fair grounds on Friday to pick up my number, it was 95F and the sun was just blazing. It seemed to surreal. I wondered how I would feel at 4pm 24 hrs from that point running in the sweltering heat.  I immediately dismissed it from my mind, knowing I would get that experience soon enough, no use worrying about it.
 I was great to see so many people I knew at the racers meeting. I love the "family reunion" feeling I get at ultras.  I love the community I'm apart of.  you hear that? I love you guys. all of you.
It was very interesting to get the historical background on the race. ( 2nd oldest 100 miler in the US behind Western States) and hear the founders of the race speak and tell their story.

 after the race, brock, brian, tammy and I went and ate italian and then I went back to my hotel and was in bed by 8pm. I didn't even take benedryl and I slept great.  I woke up at 1:30 ( alarm for was 2:45) so I just laid there and thought about the journey that lay ahead. 

 I checked in at 3:50, and was excited to start. It was about 67F at the start and humid.  by the time I was climbing up woodstock gap, I was drenched in sweat. 
I tried to run conservatively as I could.  I can pinpoint a couple of things I may have done wrong beginning of the race.  maybe should of dialed back my effort one min per mile slower. AND I didn't start using S!caps until about mile 20. I should of maybe started right out of the gate? 
As the sun rose and we began running on exposed roads in the sun, things just started going south as far as I began to realize I wasn't going to have a redletter day. This was going to be a HARD day.  I stopped and told my crew  at mile 31nI didn't feel right, and after wasting ALOT of time at the aid station,  let a girl from asheville pass me and I was now in 3rd place. I left with 2 popsicles, and decided to keep moving forward... things had to get better, right??  WELL I ran like CRAP this section-- saw a timber rattler at mile 38, talked a guy from Manhattan to death about the differences between southern and northern indian culture during a climb up peach orchard ( which was this burned down section of forest that was just exposed, hot as hell, looked like hell and depressing as hell)  THEN BOOM!! we started to descend-- I felt good again. I started running,  passed the girl from asheville, and was back in 2nd.. and on the hunt to get my mojo back. it was fun again. It was hot but  at the aidstations, I was just trying to tie ice around my neck and even put ice down my shirt and sports bra to just sit there and melt. try to get my core temp down.  I get back to my crew in good spirits at mile 56. 

  I go on the ATV section.. and here I realized I probably needed gaiters.. I started getting alot of sand in my shoes.  I felt the abrasion in my socks and feet almost immediately. argh!  but I run on anyway,
trying to get to my crew at mile 64. I can reflect back now and tell everyone I did NOT eat enough at this race at all. I think because of the heat, I didn't feel like eating, and because of my frazzled mental and emotional ups and downs all morning and after noon ( of me just trying to not be sick) I didn't eat my GU or real food the way I usually do for my race. I did drink alot of soda, but that most certainly was not enough calories. by 64 when I see my crew.. I'm tired, hurting, feet are blistering up and I am getting down.  I totally see  how having pacers from mile 50 on REALLY help in a 100.. because by mile 64 I was in a bad place there alone.
I pressed on to mile 75 knowing I would pick up sophie.. but things just kept going south..  blisters, I felt my hydration was WAY messed up and I was bonking my hiney off.  what do you do?  WELL, I was SUPPOSED to dig deep, be tough, over come adversity, rise to the occasion. That's what I do right? positive, bouncy jenny! Well, instead-- I mulled, I pouted, I thought about all the bad things that have happened to me in my life  , I thought about how unjust and unfair the world is even when I try to be nice, positive  to everyone-- why can't ALL people be nice to me back?  why can't EVERYONE LIKE ME BACK?  I thought about all the hours I spent away from my kids to get ready for this race, and here I was death marching and acting stupid.   and then I thought I'm just so miserable and unhappy in life that even running in the woods doesn't bring me joy anymore.  I had an episode similar to this at hellgate, only I was with mark and christian i was going off about how much I hated the devil trail and rocks,  and they made me EAT.  and immediately I started running better, but I had no sweet CAT friends to run with o tell me to eat. I just had my miserable self, my bad attitude and the mosquitos and flies tormenting me to death.  it was getting dark when I got to mile 75, I had calculated it in my mind the pace I needed to break 24-- it was doable. I could finish-- but may have to just go to the ER and get fluids and maybe cathed ( had this weird issue that developed I couldn't pee but really felt I needed to and was drinking like CRAZY--  and my bladder was extremely full and I knew it that was HELL to run with)  but I was just in such a state of dehydration, lack of calories, bad bad blisters and bunch of other issues. my brother pulled me aside and told me he was worried about me and my safety-- and I agreed.  stick a fork in me. done.  and I was relieved.  I felt I had pushed and pushed for 45 miles of feeling yucky... my body was just not cooperating.  AFTER I stopped running and was able to sit in the AC of the car and cool off, when I got back to the hotel I was able to pee. and it was ALOT ALOT and BROWN-- it was so disgusting.  my poor kidneys
 I hated dragging sophie all the way out there and she not pace me.  had I dropped earlier she could of ran with Keith. and I felt terrible about that. :( sorry keith! glad you broke 24 anyway!! you are my hero!!

 okay, so one week later-- YES I did the right think dropping. no regrets.  I had a bad day. I wasn't acclimated and didn't know how to handle extreme heat running like that. and it kicked my butt. it kicked ALMOST EVERYONE's BUTT.  and I am SUPER happy for the people who finished. That took a tremendous effort, and I can only imagine how miles 75-100 sucked hard.
do I want to run OD 100 again? YES probably next year. I feel learning the HARD lessons  I have, knowing 100% of the course--  definitely I would be stupid not to go try it again.
what did I take away from this: I'm not superhuman. I'm not bulletproof. cut me, I bleed. I have good days, I have bad days. My life isn't perfect, but neither is anyone else's.  You can work super hard and have  goals and things not work out-- that's okay it's what you do afterward that is important.. if you get knocked on your hind end to you stay on the ground? NO!  you pick yourself up, regroup and move on to the next goal. That is what I'm doing.
this summer I'm going to just geek out on Iron Mtn Trail. All. Summer. Long. if you need me, that is where I will be. running IMTR 50 end of august and pinhoti 100 in nov ( and praise the Lord it will be cooler-- even a freaky warm day will be 70F)
Thank you to EVERYONE for all the positive thoughts, messages, prayers before and after the race.  I feel so extremely blessed by the amount of wonderful people I have in my life. You all inspire me everyday to be a better me. LOVE YALL!


Frank Lilley said...

An absolutely GREAT blog entry detailing you experience! Thanks so much for laying it out there for us all to learn from. Every day can't be a great day, every run can't be awesome and every race can't be picture perfect. You'll be back and better than ever! And that's preffy darn good!!

Gail said...

Thanks for writing this!! I DNF'ed a hot 50 miler and I said all the same things. It was hot, and I hate hot. I had blisters. Even running in the woods can't make me happy. Haha! Thanks.

J Dub said...

Great report Jenny! Another reflection on your blog title could be "Courage to be"....It takes a lot of courage to gut it out for as long as you did in those conditions and then make the SMART move to know when to fold em' as the Gambler once said. I'm glad you weren't writing this race report as a finisher from a hospital bed in rhabdo! You have a very inspiring spirit!

(Mary) Shannon Johnstone said...

You continue to inspire me! I learn so much from you, and I am super excited to see you at Iron Mountain in August. I will try hard to get a photo of your cute little butt as you pass me! Run on my friend.

ultrarunnergirl said...

Sorry it wasn't your day out there. The casualty rate sure was high!

Love your honesty and the way you express your thoughts. This was just one bad race, with the bad fortune to be a super hot day after our unusually cool spring.

Amanda RunToTheFinish said...

Great recap of the whole day. I think this is actually something everyone who is considering an ultra should read. somedays it all goes well and somedays we become our own worst enemy, but then we learn from it and decide what to do next!