Well, I had my first DNF today and have been walking around in a funk all day. Am I a runner or am I not? Seriously questioning things and have been since Eugene—even though there have been moments of fun (i.e., Ragnar) nothing has been right since the marathon.
So here is the self-pity which I will get over quickly else I be the recipient of an endless round of dope-slaps administered by my friends.
Today was right in the middle of a heat wave, 90 degree temps forecast and it was, as you can imagine, heating up pretty fast by the time the race started at 8:30. The sun was out, the sky blue, and very pretty.
But my HR at the start, just standing there was approx 108 which means that I was nervous or something basic is not right or both. The "gun" went off and I started running conservatively. There were lots of runners out today and most were running without packs, with bottles or nothing. I decided on my pack. As we circled the field a woman commented to me that it was a good thing it was water sloshing around on my back and not in her stomach otherwise she'd be in trouble. I went out very conservatively because of the heat and the fact that I wanted to save my legs. Walk-ran up Lost Beagle and then some of the hills after the first water stop (gelled there and picked up a new one). It was quiet and pretty on this section of the course and I was just cruising along. Passing and getting passed on occasion. Walked in a train up Wilderness Peak too and actually caught people that had passed me.
In other words, things were going pretty well. It was hot but not too bad. I was trying to keep my HR down as much as possible too. Electrolyte tabs every hour too (I actually remembered them this time).
Two other guys and I were in a train ascending WP and when we got to the top we started going down. There is that false drop and then short climb again and I slipped into third position as I didn't want to thrash my legs too early. The guy I let go saw the next uphill, looked at me, and said "You've got to be kidding!" I grinned and said, "have fun". Descent was gingerly by my standards and this might be why I developed problems. Definitely not one my best floaty descents by any stretch of the imagination. I was just going along, hearing people whooping it up as they dropped the trail and saying hello to hikers and one other trail runner coming upslope (silent as a ghost and I didn't see him until he actually stepped off the trail). I remember thinking "Do I really want to be doing this today?"
Then about 3/4ths of the way down I felt something go in my right quad. Just a little pop not a rip or some sort of massive tear. Just a pop and my leg really didn't want to do what it needed to do. I wouldn't say that my quad shut down all the way but that is what it felt like as I could feel my hamstring kick in to take some of the load, especially on the uphills. It didn't hurt but I realized that I had reached the "'Fuck It!' Point" (FIP). Decision time. Depression time. Self-pity time. Do I go back up, over, and down or do I continue on around Shy Bear, hit the aid station, and then walk back to the start. Decided that doing that climb on my leg was not the right thing and so I pressed on. Walking. Limping. Feeling tired, hot, and like a wimp especially when getting passed. This was the worse part of the run, letting the disappointment sink in.
Got to the aid station, drank a Nuum, asked if they had a radio (they had a phone), asked them to call ahead to let the folks at the start know that "52 was dropping out" and that I would walk back to the start on my own. The two guys asked if I knew the way. I said "yes" but wanted to scream "Of Course I Do!" So on I went. Shy Bear sure looks funny going the "wrong" way. Pretty steep too. Soon I was at Fred's Railroad passing the point where the leaders should have broken the course tape coming off Quarry Trail. It hadn't been broken. On I went, walking and occasionally limping when I started hearing footfalls behind me. There were the leaders. I tried to stay out their way as best I could. Skipped running down Bypass and Old Man's trail because of this. Went to Claypit Road instead.
The closer to the finish I got, and to the cheering, the more awful I felt and the more embarrassed. I had to check in and get some ice on my thigh but really considered sneaking out the back, straight to the car and out. I didn't.
Sat in the field by myself icing. Feeling very sorry for myself and otherwise having very bad thoughts. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
Went to the car when the ice was almost melted. Changed and drove home. Felt unbelievably tired on the way. M said that I looked like all hell when I got in the house (Te was just happy to see me). Showered, ate a little, lay down on the couch and slept. Woke up and both my thighs were numb, numb in that good "my body is repairing things" way.
I've been thinking about this all day though and am really disappointed although I am also happy that I was able to get myself out of there under my own power (thankful really) and that I made a smart decision rather than pushing on. The embarrassment is mine alone and, frankly, those few people that I talked with up at the start all had knowing looks on their faces. They've been there too. Still . . . .
Could I have done this to myself by running so conservatively? Is there something I could have done better?
There are two levels of problems here, one that is easy to address, the other not so much.
The leg can be repaired with a little TLC as it does not seem too messed up at this point. More worrisome is the high HR. This could mean fatigue and nervousness or it could be something more systemic. I'll monitor this. Heat? Certainly a factor and we haven't had too much opportunity to train when hot because of the unusually cold summer we've been having. Not much to do there.
The mental problem is a bit more difficult to crack. I seem to have lost my "Mojo" and have had difficulty getting out the door to train. Running has just seemed hard since May and it has been hard to be happy about lacing up my kicks and hitting the pavement. Do I need a break? Is this the nadir of my running for this year? Will things get better? I don't know. First I need to stop feeling sorry for myself. ;-P
OK, there you have it. Sitting here typing and my leg has stiffened up a bit. Moving it helps.