Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blackhills 100 Race Report

The Blackhills 100 did not go as planed for me. I had been looking fordward to this race for some time and had trained hard for it, and exspected to run well. The family and I decided to use this race as a vacation and spend the week in South Dakota and the Blackhills. This report is going to be a little different since I bailed on the run at mile 52.4 or the 1/2 way point. I knew after checking out the course in the days before the race that this was going to be tough with lots of climbs and descent's. Little did I know it would be tougher than I thought even after see some of the aid station stops. It was still nothing I couldn't handle. So on to the race.
The race started as normal, and I tried to go out a little on the easy side knowing that it was going to be tough. The first couple miles out of town were normal and flat and as soon as we hit the Centennial trail the roller coaster started and never let up. I power- walked more hills in the first 17 miles than in any other ultra I've run. By mile 17 and the first time I seen my crew, I was already having problems with cramping. The sun comes up at 5am in South Dakota and so does the heat. This course was nothing but up and down. And it felt like we were always going up. The big climbs to the ridge were steep and with the thunderstorms the night before also muddy. So not only were we climbing we were climbing with 2lbs of mud on our shoes. Once on the ridge there were little rollers along the ridge. Which made for some great views. From mile 17 till 29 where I seen my crew again, my calf's and the inside of my upper legs were cramping. I'm not sure why it was so bad, it was warm 80-85 degrees and sunny. But, I was taking my salt tabs and drinking about 30oz of water every hour. I did run out of water twice but, not for long before I hit an aid station. At Dalton Lake (29 miles) with the cramping I was already hurting. I drank a whole bottle there re-fueled and started the climb out of Dalton Lake, this is where things went away for me, I wasn't knotting up cramping but, it was like both my legs were ceased up from all the previous cramping, and I was working extra hard to keep up as several other runners went around me. At Boxelder Creek (37) both my legs were hurting bad, yes it was tough but, I felt like I had been taking care of myself and not pushing to hard. After seeing my crew there it all fell apart, both my legs were sore as hell and ceased up. I hiked everything up and had difficulty running flat and down. This 6 mile stretch took me almost 2 hrs. Sure there was a big climb, but also a big decent, and several more runners went around me and every time I tried to keep up with them but my legs were not willing. I became even more frustrated, and this is where I started to loose the mental side of this game. Running 100 miles is 1/2 mental and 1/2 physical. I started thinking of every reason I had to quit. When I got to my crew at Pilots Knob (43) I was frustrated as hell and asking myself why this was happening to me again (re: Heartland 100 last year). Note: when things don't go the way I think they should or I'm not running like I think I should be. It's easier to give up then go on.) My wife gave me the how come and what for when I got to Pilots Knob and was talking about how bad I felt. So she put me back together and told me to get my ass to the turn around at Rapid Creek. At this point I was still in the top 10, but was loosing ground quickly. I made a concentrated effort to turn things around during this last 7 miles to the turn. Other than the big climb and decent right before coming into the aid station, this section was the easiest section on the course, and still every time I ran my legs would cease up, and several more runners went by me. I was frustrated as hell and questing why anyone would put themselves thru this. I mean at this point it was not fun for me at all. However, in a 100 mile race your going to have some bad times. When I finally got to the turn, I started doing math. It took me 2:20 to do that last 7 miles. (Which I now found out may have been longer since every one's Garmin had 52+ miles at the turn) So that was 3.2mph and I got there in 11:26 and spent 20min deciding what to do and trying to regroup. Well the straw that broke the camels back was 3.2mph divided by 52.4miles was 15+ hours if I could keep a 3.2 average. And I came out to run 100 miles not hike it in from 50. Also, I didn't have a pacer, I knew no one on the course and at the time, and I was not willing to be out there alone all night hurting as bad as I was for a 27+ hour finish. That to me just was not worth it at the time. I went in to race let's face it, and just a finish was not good enough for me at the time. Had I still been running like I should have been things might of turned out different. My wife did everything she could to get me back out there. And even though she knew if I kept going she would also be out there for that long also. She is a real trooper when it comes to crewing and she does an amazing job keeping me going and having everything ready for me when I get there. And I could never thank her enough for being there for me! So I owe my wife and son both a huge thank you for all there time and effort. And for allowing me the time and encouragement they give me to even attempt these types of races.

The root cause of this failure is that I put to much pressure on myself to run well when I'm racing. When I first started running ultras and 100's I just went out and ran for fun and never worried about time or place. And after some success I've started racing every race, and put to much pressure on myself to preform well. When I just ran 100's for fun, I loved every minute of it and never once thought about quitting. And did OK just running for fun. In my last 2 100's I went out to race and had no fun, and both times when things went bad I just wanted to quit. I'm done racing, at least in the 100, and just going to go back to running for fun. For me running 100 is about seeing how far you can go and pushing the limits. Tearing yourself down and still pushing thru. Spending time on the trails, just me and my thoughts and nature. That's what I love about this sport and that is what I half to get back too. Get back to having fun and enjoying running thru the woods or mountains or wherever the next trail leads me. And it's time to go back and run for the love of running. I don't need to win or do well to enjoy running and it time to step back, and get back to what I love. RUNNING!

Yes I will be back next year with a new attitude and new game plan and I will get that buckle!