Adventures In Running

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Antelope Island 50K - I gave up

I participated in the Antelope Island 50K race today. I knew going into this race that I was not as trained as I should be, but there was a large time limit and I figured I could easily walk it in.

The weather took a turn for the worse during the week. One week earlier it was sunny and warm. By Saturday it was cold, snowy and miserable.

I drove out to the race on Antelope Island early on Saturday morning and shortly before dawn, a bunch of crazy ultrarunners headed out. (We were not the craziest - because the 100K had started 2 hours earlier). After less than a mile, the first few miles became a series of uphill switchbacks. I was power walking well on this section and passed several other people. I was able to run a lot of the next section and then once again walked the painful section up past Lone Tree to Elephant Head. Here is a picture of me at Elephant Head - enjoying a fun day on the trails.

After Elephant Head, we ran down into Death Valley and then started up the next set of switchbacks. Still feeling fine and walking strong. At the top of the switchbacks (around mile 8) we dropped down into the back section of the island onto trails I had never been on before. I would be on these trails until about mile 17.

Around mile 9 I started to get the first inkling of troubles. The left IT band started bothering me a bit on downhills so I took some ibuprofen and hoped it would help. There were several really rocky sections and areas of deep sand and I started to feel like I was losing energy faster than I should. I went from feeling really strong to feeling totally week in about a one mile period. While I was still enjoying the sights of the back of the island, I started to think it was going to be a longer day than I had planned and my hopes for a PR went out the window.

As I started up Sentry Peak, I looked up the steep incline and really got mentally depressed. Time to put my head down and soldier on. The problem is - I bonked really badly. Tried to put more food into me - but it wasn't helping. I slowed down considerably and was passed by three of the four people behind me. When I got to what I thought was the top of Sentry Peak - I realized it was only halfway up and just wanted to lay down by the side of the trail and quit. The hike up Sentry Peak was from miles 12-14 and I just got slower and slower and couldn't recover.

The temperatures dropped significantly and the wind picked up as we neared the top of the peak. I was so glad to see the aid station tent. I told the volunteers I needed to regroup and sat in the tent for about 10 minutes drinking a lot of fluids and eating what I could. I then realized I hadn't been drinking as much as I thought during the race. Probably because of the cold. I vowed to drink every mile after that.

While sitting in the tent, the last place person passed by - putting me at the back of the pack. Bummer. I decided it was time to get moving again, and headed out at a trot - mainly to stay warm. It was nasty up there! After the long hike up, there was a long run downhill and as I started into the downhill, the IT Band started screaming at me and I found that I could not run the downhill sections anymore. This was a real bummer, because if I had been able to do so, the next few miles would have flown by.

At this point in time, I had been cold for over four hours, was tired, had little energy (although it was coming back), could not run downhills, which meant I would soon not be able to run flats either. I faced a long day and I was just not able to think about continuing. I had cell phone service and found my sister willing to drive out to the ranch and pick me up. I still had three miles to go to get past the ranch and just kept putting one foot in front of the other and running whenever my leg would allow me to.

As I approached the ranch road, there was a lone buffalo on the trail and he was heading in my direction. I approached slowly, hoping he would give way - but I ended up about 15 feet away before I chickened out and headed off onto another trail. He continued sauntering up the road and was determined to take the easy routed this time.

Marcia picked me up at mile 18 and we drove to Nine Mile Gate where I officially DNF'ed. I should have been devestated - but I was not. I just gave up mentally and physically and that was that. I made a lot of mistakes and could have toughed it out - but at that point in time, it was just not worth it to me.

I accomplished what I set out to do - run trails that I had never run before. I didn't wimp out and not show up to the race. Now I have to get over the feeling of defeat and move on with my running career.

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