The Ultra Experience

Here's to the adventures of my life which are usually ultra marathon trail running or fly fishing but may include other trips, experiences, thoughts, opinions, or pretty much whatever I want. As co-founder of Altra Footwear my life and adventures seemingly revolve more around developing and promoting the best footwear in the world...and I love it!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Lackluster 2nd half, Wasatch 100 2013

What's overall been a great year of running for me in 2013, the second half has been quite lackluster.

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  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.