Monday, July 19, 2010

2010 vermont endurance run: anatomy of a dnf :(

Not a typical race report...

This was my fourth consecutive trip to the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run. I went home with a .500 batting average. While I completed the run in 2007 and 2009, this year would join 2008 as a DNF. The short version is that after 18:33 I reached Camp Ten Bear (70 miles) well off my time goals (sub-24, or sub 26) and, with my quads trashed, I decided to pack it in. I didn’t want to slog through a 30 mile death march - basically walk the remainder of the distance in another 10 hours.

It was a tough decision for me for two reason - neither of which had to do with a DNF. First, I had run the bulk of the 70 miles with Emmy, who was in equally bad shape at that point. She wanted to finish and didn’t care about how long it took (that’s the killer instinct in her). So I felt lousy about not going on with her. That was mitigated because Nick headed out as Emmy to pace her. Second, Rob was there to pace me and I was bummed he had taken the time and effort to drive up - only to have me bail out.

Emmy and I were two hours late getting back to Camp Ten Bear. Instead of 8:30, we arrived at 10:30 - it was the first time I had covered the distance from the Margaritaville aid station back to Ten Bear in the dark (we were closer to Brown School House when it got dark). Rob and Nick were worried enough about our progress to do a mile out and back on the trail to look for us! It was an incredible sense of relief to finally arrive back there.

It was hard to believe that we had left Ten Bear, with Nick jogging with us to the trail head, almost 6 hours earlier! At the first weigh-in I was astonished to learn that I had dropped six pounds (at the weight-in, I'd lose yet another pound)! It was all the more worrisome because I had consistently finished off my 22 ounce water bottle (usually filled with water or water/heed) between the aid stations, in addition to the fluids I drank (and watermelon I ate) at the aid stations. But my appetite hadn’t diminished - I ate a sausage and pepper hero on the way out of Ten Bear!

Far from giving me stomach issues, that solid food reinvigorated me for the second half. In the first half I had pretty much stuck to watermelon, PB & J, turkey & Swiss, and boiled potatoes. But nutrition wasn’t the issue for me - humidity was. It took its toll across the first 50 increasingly slower miles. My 50 mile split of 12:33 was more than an hour off last year’s pace. I got a preview of the slower times right at the start, when the first horse galloped passed me before I had reached the second aid station.

Little things like that (the horses usually arrived past the second aid station) clued me in early that it would be a tough day. While I don’t mind heat, humidity is an insidious creature. For the first 40+ miles I felt like I was running underwater because my clothes were continuously drenched. I changed into dry clothes three separate times (at 20, 30 and 48 miles). Despite the change of clothes and plenty of Glide, chaffing also became a problem as the day wore on.

On the way back to Ten Bear I realized that since it wasn’t my day, I should cut my losses. If I had been able to run (or even convince myself I could run) some of the remaining distance, I may have pushed on. But the though of walking all the way back didn’t appeal to me. Instead, Rob and I rode the shuttle van back to finish. We crashed on cots in the medical tent and, in the morning, waited for Emmy and the rest of our friends to cross the finish.

As I often say, "you gotta take what the day gives you." This weekend dealt us a heat-wave and I tried to make the best of it. But (apologies to the Clash), "I fought the humidity, and the humidity won." Still, there are plenty more races out there (and a million more weather patterns), so keep on running :D


Joe Garland said...

Hey, it happens. Discretion can indeed be the better part of valor.

CTmarathoner said...

it's so true --our/your pace at VT was slow to begin with--well off the mark..I knew that when I felt beat up coming into the mile 20 aid station that it was going to be a long day and night...and then it took us 6 hours to do the 23 mile loop from 47 to was really tough to do that last section (mile 66-70) in the dark. mentally discouraging --i think i felt the worst when i sank in that chair at mile 66...nice report and if you decide to 'go for it' next year it might just be your day.

Chicken Underwear said...

Breaking ????? in the hot sun.....

I fought the humidity, and the humidity won.

So many bad things. So many.

DawnB said...

it wasn't your day Frank, but I'm pretty sure you will tackle that monster next year.


It just simple amazes me. Nice report nice insights. I am still working on the 26.2 distance, but maybe in a few years one day I will dare to take on such a challenge.