The short: My first voluntary DNF, although marked as doing two loops (19.2 miles) only by the RD (b.k.a. Pigtails) for a time of 3:17:29.
The long: Due to skipping the Bridle Trails 50k earlier in the month, I really wanted to do this race for two reasons:
1.) I had alot of fun at this race last year.
2.) It was my final race to get me qualified for the Marathon Maniacs, so I was looking forward to trying to PR.
Now with my odd work schedule and late hours, I had ended up getting only 3 hours sleep before having to leave for the race. This will play later in the story.
I got to the race over an hour and a half early since I had to work later on today and the RD was cool about letting me do an early start. So with double-headlamps (one on my head, one around my waist), I set out to run around the fenced-off lake in the dark and freezing cold. Despite the lack of sleep, the first 9.6 mile loop was going pretty well. I was running pretty efficiently along the rolling hills. On the second loop, I passed a few folks once the actual race started and things were feeling okay...until around 16th mile. At this point, I felt oddly tired. Not tired as in exhausted from the expenditure of energy that doing marathons and ultras can put one through, but tired as if I was ready to crawl into bed. I slammed another Espresso Love GU and hoped the double caffeine in it would wake me up more like it did earlier when I was using it throughout the first loop and earlier in the second loop. I was in okay spirits after finishing the second loop. I had my bottle filled with Gatorade again and I set off to do my last loop & out-n-back to make it a full 50k. However, this wasn't meant to be.
After going down the steep hill in the beginning of the trail, I stopped for a moment and shook out my shoes since they picked up little bits of gravel inside. I put my shoes back on and started to shuffle my feet. I closed my eyes for what seemed like a second, but suddenly opened my eyes and had that feeling that you get when you get startled when being woken up (you know, that sudden shocked/shaken feeling). Once that feeling kicked in and my eyes opened, I immediately stopped. I discovered that I had gone several yards from my previous point and almost crashed into a trail post, just missing my crotch by two inches. This scared the crap out of me. I had a narcoleptic episode due to the lack of good sleep before the race. So with the common sense I had left, I decided to call it quits and hike back up that steep hill and back to the start. Guess that my body isn't equipped to be able to handle a 50k on 3 hours of sleep. Had I not been weirded out like that, I think I would have not only finished, but probably PR'ed by 20 minutes or more compared ot last year's 5:28 finishing time.
Van (a.k.a. Pigtails) decided to put me down as finishing two loops (19.2 miles) instead of DNF'ing for the full 50k. So it's not an offical drop out on the records, but I'm considering it a real DNF - Did Nothing Fatal. So after my official time of 3:17:29 (3:33:50 if you add the extra credit of going out and coming back, hitting over 20 miles), I changed into some dry, warm clothes and took a short nap in the car to try and feel normal. After an hour, I went and helped out runners who were trying their best to finish up as the weather changed from icy cold to icy cold & rainy. Everyone appreciates the chicken noodle soup, especially during these times.
So even though I didn't finish this race the way I wanted to, I learned alot today and have some interesting memories from this:
- I figured out how to "pee on the run". Seriously! As long as it was dark and no one was around, I was able to shuffle along and do my business at the same time.
- Seeing Shawn Lawson running in the dark while dragging a tire behind her in preparation for a 100 miler in Alaska that requires the runner to pull a sled with their gear on them.
- Watching the fastest runners being able to pull off a sub-3 and sub-4 hour finishing time after running 31 miles.
- Rooting on my fellow Maniacs and others pushing to the finish.
I'm still really tired and have fallen asleep a few times since this morning (thankfully not while on the drive home), but I doubt I'll be able to do the Yours Truly 50k run at Cedar River tomorrow. I think it's time for me to adjust my sleep clock and catch up on the rest that I need. I still have time to hit my 2008 miles in 2008 and I can truly redeem myself at the return of the Lord Hill 50k next Sunday.