This race will be associated with one word for me: Sufferfest.
I was kind of expecting that, given the lackluster training I've been doing. And the fact that I hurt my foot a couple weeks ago (although it's felt completely better for over a week.) And the inexplicable shivering fever I went through two days before the race. But enough excuses.
Fact was, I really wasn't there mentally either. The first ten miles of the race, I couldn't even visualize finishing - my thoughts were on which aid station might be better to drop at. It wasn't until somewhere around mile ten, between Hobart and Tunnel Creek, that I started feeling confident that I'd make it.
Then came the Red House Loop. The ridiculous downhill, then the slogging uphill kicked my now nagging foot injury to scary stage. It was on the way up the last stretch of climb that I knew I'd have to quit.
OK, interlude from my histrionics. It was a gorgeous day. Here's some pictures:
Spooner Lake at just before 6AM - mist rising.
RD David Cotter giving the briefing with curlers in his beard.
Moo. Cattle call on the first part of the climb up to Marlette.
Spacing out a little. Just have to find the right pace group before this point...
Rare moment of running on this section. Note guy in the foreground wearing Vibrams Five Fingers for a 50K.
After the Hobart aid station, heading up again.
One of the first good views of the lake.
And pretty soon, looking east toward Washoe Lake.
Took this for the TRT sign. Wish I wouldn't have caught that guy, um - adjusting...
After the first big downhill on the Red House Loop, where the trail comes back in.
Starting up one of the big uphills out of Red House.
It was not long after that last picture that I decided it wouldn't be a good idea to continue. I'd been adjusting my stride and footfall the whole time, trying to find something that worked - a right foot heelstrike while running, and not pushing off with my toe while walking seemed to work best, but even that didn't last. Eventually, it hurt my forefoot to walk, while running made my ankle hurt. Alternating barely got me back to the Tunnel Creek Aid station.
I had a big lump in my throat as I approached the aid station director (Micheline-who's-not-my-wife-Micheline.) She took my tag and told me it would be a while for a ride, as their driver had just left to get more ice. I got some water and was looking for a place to sit down when the driver came back - he had forgotten the ice chest. Lucky me there - dodged a couple hour wait. Bumped down the hill, waited out Sand Harbor boat launch traffic, and made it back to Spooner. Some of the faster 50K runners were already at the finish - recognized Scott Dunlap, but couldn't remember his name, so didn't say hi. Basically just changed shoes, limped back to my car and drove home.
So, a question for the runners out there. This is my first DNF, so I don't know how it works - am I allowed to wear the t-shirt? (It's a nice Patagonia short-sleeve.) Or is it just going to remind me of a failure? Should I even consider this a failure? Or be proud that I was smart enough to quit instead of destroying my foot? There's psychological dimensions to this whole not finishing thing...
Oh, and congratulations to a couple runners I knew out there - Abbey, doing her first ultra, finished the 50K in 7:10 - great showing. And of course Gretchen on the 100M in just over 26 hours. Can't. WAIT. To read her recap. Thanks to all the volunteers as well, especially Micheline at Tunnel Creek, who was very understanding, and the driver dude whose name I can't remember (because I'm terrible with names) but who made that F350 go places I would have been scared to ride a mountain bike.