Monday, July 20, 2009

Tahoe Rim Trail 100

Well, it’s official, I now have a DNF (that means Did Not Finish mom) in an ultra, which is sad, but I’m pretty sure I made the right decision. From all of the comments that I've gotten back from friends and family, and after reading about what occurred to me on the web, it's looking like I had hyponatremia. I'd recommend reading about it as I had always associated it w/ fraternity pranks and people running a marathon really slowly while drinking a lot of water in the heat. Now, on to the race!

The race started off great, the week up at altitude was a HUGE help. I noticed immediately that my Hear Rate (HR) was nice and low and I was able to keep a good steady pace. The other thing I noticed was that my climbing was much stronger then it normally is. Clearly the training program that Coach Manning had put me on was paying dividends, and I was pretty fired up to be able to see the results in a race. The only issue that I was having was my stomach. Not a side cramp, but a weird sort of feeling in the bottom left of my stomach that something was off. Kind of crampy, kind of bloaty (apparently crampy and bloaty are not real words) but other then that, things were going really well, until I hit the first weigh in of the race. There I realized I had gained 5 pounds, which isn’t good. I started the race at 169 (I just weighed myself and I’m currently at162.5) and now I weighed 174. The normal logic here is to drink more water, take less salt, (or so I thought it was) so that’s what I started to do.

Still, cruising along and way ahead of schedule. I’m just crushing the race at this point, and my legs feel good. I was wearing the Roc-Lite 285's, and very excited about the shoes. I’m drinking a TON of water. We’re talking 40oz between aid station (which were about 1.5-2 hours apart) and I’ve stopped the salt tablets (except for when I feel a tinge from a cramp coming on) but the weird thing is, I’m not sweating a lot (and it was HOT out there) and I’m not peeing as much as I should be, which has me worried, but not super concerned. I hit the 26.3 miles in 5:39 which is about 20 minutes faster then I thought I was going to, and I fell good, minus the stomach.

The next 25 miles are similar to the first 25 miles except faster and I gain more weight. I’m now weighing in at 178 pounds (like I said, my post race weight is now 162.5) so I’ve put on 9lbs in the race, which is starting to draw concern. In races they have you weigh in to protect yourselves. Everyone has a wrist-band on and you have +/- 3%, 5%, and 7%. At 7% weight gain/loss you get pulled from the race and I’m at 5.5% weight gain and with no clue what to do. I’m drinking water, I’m barely taking any salt, but I can’t drop weight to get back to normal. My stomach feels a lot better, my HR is really low for the pace that I’m running, everything feels good. So good in fact that I crush the second 25 miles. I hit the halfway mark so early that Shawna/Shibby aren’t there! I’ve outrun my crew!!! I’m 50 miles into the race in 11:03, but still weighing 178.

The good news is that Shawna and Shibby show up in less then 5 minutes and I now get to run the next 26.3 miles with Shawna, which I’m really excited about. Legs are tired, but nothing that shouldn’t be expected after 50 miles of running. The next 10 miles, everything is still good. At the Tunnel Creek aid station 61 miles, one of the volunteers tells me to take potassium, and that should help things out and I should drop weight, so I knock back a banana and take off running. I’m still moving pretty well, and w/ some bananas in me, I pee 2x in the loop, but definitely starting to slow down. I do the Red House Loop in 2 hours and the volunteers tell me how good of a time that is, but unfortunately, it’s the last thing I really remember.

From 67.3 miles to 76.3 I basically have no recollection of what happened. It’s the same feeling as when you drink too much, wake up the next morning and wonder what happened from 10pm – 1am. Yup, that was me, except none of the benefits that comes with booze! If you really want more details about that part, then ask Shawna as she was there the whole time to make sure I didn’t fall off the course (apparently I wasn’t walking in a straight line) and basically making sure nothing bad happened to me. I hit the 67.3 mile marker in 16:34 minutes. It then took me 3:10 minutes to go 9 miles. I was basically doing a zombie walk for 3 hours, or so I was told.

Hit the 75 mile marker where they have a BIG aid station, tent, cot, etc. and still have no real recollections of things, until waking up from a quick 10 min nap and feeling better. I basically remember everything from that point on. I got up, and Shibby and I were going to head out to finish the course. I still had 14 hours, so no matter how slowly I was moving, I could make the cut-off. Luckily, after about 500 yards down the course, I came to my senses and stopped. It didn’t make sense to me (even in my delirious state) to keep going. I’ve already done 2-100 mile races, and to suffer for a 8+ hour walk just to say I finished this one didn’t make sense, so I stopped the race and earned my first DNF. After hearing back from friends, and much more experienced ultra-runners then me, that decision, probably kept me out of the hospital.

The Tahoe Rim ultra is a really great ultra to run. The course is beautiful for 90% of the race, the Red-Barn loop is just a mean, mean bit to run (but they do call it a taste of hell on the web-site, so you are warned) but the rest of it is really pretty. I don't run with a camera in races, but the views along the trail are breath-taking at time. The race is all on dirt, so no cement to pound the knees and at just under 20k in climbing/descending you can really run a lot of the course. Be warned though, it is surprisingly hard to finish (in all my ultras and adventure races, this is only my second DNF, so I agree!) In 2006 there was a 63% finish rate and in 2008 there was an even lower 58%, so like I said, it's surprisingly hard. The aid stations are all well stocked and as is the case in most ultras, the volunteers were awesome. They had an Irish themed aid station with Darts (and an award for the best score, so practice up) and a Mexican station with Corona! I would definitely recommend the race to anyone looking for an ultra, but I might hold off if it's going to be your first attempt at a 100 miler and start with something a bit easier. The combination of the altitude and heat (it was over 90 this year) seems to create a large number of DNF's, but it's not the fault of the race for that!

HUGE thanks to Shawna, Shibby and Jon for helping out! Great crew, great pacing, and an even bigger thanks to Shawna for walking 26.3 very slow miles with me while watching me deteriorate in front of her AND not yelling at me to stop.

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