Since Devils Backbone in mid-July, I've been in a huge running rut. I had the best early season racing of my life but by mid-summer I was burnt out mentally and majorly work-stressed. Had a 3 week stretch with 20 miles...total. I decided to treat it as a taper and run Katchina Mosa 100k to try and get my butt in gear. Although I finished, running most of the race with good friend Roger Smith, I didn't want to be there. It was really odd. In years past I've felt physically burnt out but this was totally mental.
I ended up having a couple really nice weeks of training in late August. Several runs up Timp that were frankly special. I hoped that with my early season success I could maybe squeak a fast one at Wasatch. Looking back on it, it was wishful thinking at best but mostly stupid. I wasn't mentally there and should have throttled back for a finish rather than shooting for a time.
However, I felt great the first 45+ miles at Wasatch. I started conservatively with an updated watering plan due to the heat that had me feeling great all the way through Big Mountain. Ran a long section with Craig Loyd and generally had a grand time! I should have seen the warning signs earlier while seeing great runners like Christian Johnson, Seth Hales, Jay Aldous, and Greg Norrander call it a day. I was in and out of Big Mountain in a matter of minutes and excited by how good I was feeling. I pushed through the heat passing 6-7 more runners and still feeling good. However I only took 40 oz of water through this section and it frankly wasn't enough as I ran out of water a couple miles before Alexander. I started to feel a little queezy heading into Alexander Ridge but nothing unusual. I was still right on pace for sub-24 hours when 5 minutes out of the aid station I hit the wall...bad. It was really odd but I just couldn't move. Golden Harper who was pacing me did what he could but I can't even explain it...I lost all energy. It seemed to come out of no-where! It was frustrating.
By the time I got to Lambs I was a mess. I was down 8 lbs at weigh in, then I emotionally broke down. It was pretty bad, I can't even explain it but after 90 minutes of sobbing, getting ice on me, cot laying, and eating, I decided to call it quits. I went to the car and my wife asked me again if I was absolutely sure I didn't want to give it another shot. My wife is an amazing women! Maybe a little crazy for loving me and then sending me back out there...but I really did want a finish...and so after 2 hours at Lambs I continued on.
I felt ok going up the road but I was having all sorts of mechanical issues. My water bottle broke...but I ended up seeing BJ Burlinson on the trail and he swapped me (big thanks BJ!). I didn't take a headlamp and decending Bear Ass Pass was problematic. Luckily my pacer Heath Thurston had a small handheld flashlight but heading up the road I ran out of energy again. Putting one foot in front of the other was so difficult and I was miserable. I sat at Millcreek for an hour contemplating whether to quit or not. After an hour I decided I was done. I hadn't pee'd since before Swallow Rocks, I was moving incredibly slowly, felt horrible, and mentally didn't want to be there.
However, friend Roger Smith came along. He took a while but somehow convinced me to keep going...again! I left with a mental determination to get to the finish. It didn't take long to doubt this decision as the climb out of Millcreek was incredibly slow and painful. I had to stop several times to sit down along the trail. Finally at Blunders Fork I decided for the 3rd and final time, that I was done. It was a sad realization and a horrible parting from Roger but I mentally couldn't push through. Whether physically I could push through or not we will never know but I was done. Heath was incredibly supportive and we slowly made our way down Blunders Fork where we called my wife who was waiting at Brighton. The records say I DNF'd at Brighton but I didn't even make it that far.
Nearly a month later I don't regret my decision. My previous DNF at Bear 100 in 2008 was a huge regret but somehow this one, given life's circumstances, seems justified. Given my emotional, physical, and mental health, it was the right decision for me. I love Wasatch 100 and for the first time in 7 years I didn't run Brighton to the Finish (2 finishes and 4 pacings). I intend to be back next year though as this race is truly special.