By Xtreme Taper
2017-06-20 2:25 PM
2017-06-20 2:38 PM
Mohican 100 DNF Report 2017
DNF. A first for me in my short 15 years of running marathons and ultras. I made it 2 loops, plus one more climb up to the gorge overlook. 58 miles and change. Of course this report is not a happy one but there are always some good things that happen in a long race regardless of the outcome I suppose. Plus writing it all down is good therapy... a way to purge it all from the system.
Don't expect to learn anything here about what I did wrong and how not to DNF the next time. The only thing I did wrong was to try. To try to get those stupid 16 tickets for Western States despite a year of weird health issues and knee problems. That race is still on my bucket list for some reason but the reality and importancee of that goal is fading and was not enough for me to force the issue during the race.
I've been having problems in my left knee on/off all year. Since late October last year actually. In addition to that, energy levels, well in terms of turnover and speed, not so much endurance existed as well. I still don't know what's going on with that? Aging, these physical issues or all in the head? I'd have to push myself just to come close to running my easy pace from last year. But I faked my way through the training, well at least getting in the miles needed for the event. There is no question about that as a few days post DNF and covering almost 60 miles I am barely sore other than the knee niggles.
I think the DNF was a foregone conclusion as I've had it in my mind the last 6 weeks, or since my knee went belly up again after have a strong 50k at the end of April. That race (the Iron Masters Challenge) made me so happy. I just cruised along and felt on top of the world at the finish. Like an ultra runner should feel. Strong and surging at the end indicating fitness and a well executed race. Sure maybe not fast in terms of time but a perfect lead in for what I was planning next. But the knee swelled after that race and my training was sidelined again.
Less than a week ago I was in the orthopods office having my knee examined and 2 weeks back I was on the phone with Angus telling him not to finalize any plans as I was sitting on the fence about going to the race myself. So I was not good in the head which is not conducive to finishing a 100 miler which is a head game in and of itself. The DNF writing was on the wall, heck maybe a DNS instead?
After the orthopod visit last week though I did get a boost of confidence plus a drained and less swollen left knee. Almost felt and looked normal again, that knee, and I started to get some excitement again about the race. Angus' plans got sidelined because of work so once I gave him the word that I was starting he decided to fly into Ohio the night before the race, while I drove out Thursday to chill in my old hometown.
My first run since the knee drain procedure was in my old stomping grounds as a teenager, Wooster Memorial Park (Spangler Park), a park of hiking trails outside of town in the country. I forgot how cool and scenic the place was, and it was the first time I had "seen" it as a trail runner. Ridges and bluffs up above the creek or the Rathburn Run as they called it. The trails wandered up and down the ledges, and meandered through the stream valley as well. Pines, hard woods, and greenery everywhere. While the run started off just fine, even good, it was a mile or two in where I already felt the knee again. Not quite as bad as it had been, but not quite as good as I had hoped either. I was still a shuffler at best.
The rest of time I spent visiting old and new haunts around my old town. The pizza place, breakfast place, golf course I used to play. Even snuck in a round of golf the day before. Visited the brewery which was new and had a couple of interesting IPA's. Never felt at home though as I guess it's not home anymore and you can never go back. I should have heeded those words.
Angus got in Friday night and it was nearly time for the show to begin. I had a weird feeling, not nervous and on edge but lackadaisical almost, wondering if I could just over sleep and miss the start. We did have a funny crackpot time during our brief stay at the local low budget Econo Lodge. I told him not to be surprised if he saw nefarious residents, amish, and zz-top look a-likes when we arrived. Sure enough we pulled in and at the bar next door a couple of long beards were on the outdoor stage jamming "gimme all your loving" while an amish guy watched from the balcony of the hotel, and some sort of deal making was taking place amongst several dudes in the parking lot. When we left the joint at 3:30am the next morning, somebody was still lurking in the parking lot, tweaking, waiting for the man, whatever. He slithered back into a car maybe to hide and cop a smoke once he spied us.
Ok, sorry for the diversion and back to the DNF. I am trying to forget about it too. I pretty much had started the negative talk in first mile of the race jogging the opening mile on the park road leading to the trail, and the climb up to the gorge overlook aid station. My knee felt pretty good actually, which surprised me based on my Thursday run, but I attributed it to race day adrenaline. I still felt off, not excited like you normally feel at the start of a big race. I was going through the motions I suppose. I followed a crowd up the trail to the first aid station, walking when they walked, running they ran, repeat. A few times I was angry at the crowd for walking but hey who am I going to pass today? It was very humid and I spent most of this section with blurry sweat streaked glasses making it hard to see in the dark of the morning. It was over 70 already at 5am. Still, the crowd carried me up nicely to the first aid station in 43 minutes and change, under 10 minute pace with all the climbing. Angus ran into me on the road and told me to slow down as I was near last year's time and well ahead of my planned schedule. Yeah, I agreed. Slow down. This would not be a problem.
On the twisty trail run to the fire tower again this year I had the company of a pair of runners rambling on behind me. I joined in on their conversation a time or two but mostly I was annoyed and shocked with the one guy carrying on about his upcoming race schedule? Really. How about finishing this race dude! I almost said that, but I held back. The old curmudgeon in me I suppose was breaking out, but I should not be so harsh. I was back on schedule (slower) at the fire tower and felt pretty good.
I headed out on the next long section and promptly fell 2 or 3 times in less than a quarter mile. So much for feeling good! A nice section, passing above and under the trickle of Big Lyon falls (of course you take a shower), the dam at Pleasant Hill Reservoir, and the trail along the Clear Fork. The tourist section as I call it. I really should have taken a swim there as it was plenty hot already and it was just 8am. The 50 mile lead racers passed me here and they were flying. I knew I was slower than last year but still they passed me 3-4 miles sooner. Crazy, as I was not that slow currently. Finished up at the Covered Bridge Aid station and fueled up for the climb up to Hickory Ridge.
I like the Hickory Ridge section a lot, despite it being one of the tougher ones in terms of climbing. It's just one of the nicer parts up on the ridge with peeks of the river gorge valley below and some sweet rooty trails through thick strands of pine. Many 50 mile racers were passing me here so that spoiled some of the fun but hey it is what it is. I was still feeling well enough but it was feeling very hot now. I finished up this section and then began the dreaded "spin cycle", that is the longest section of about 7 miles down the trail and through the Mohican Adventures Campground to end the big loop. I pretty much jogged it all but felt like I was crawling and that my race was slipping away. I talked to a VHTRC runner as we wandered aimlessly through the campground and into some open/exposed sun areas. Dang it felt hot. We were both here for WS qualifiers. It seemed like an easy thing to do at the time. Piece of cake.
I jogged into the aid station at the end of the first lap and finally looked at my watch for the first time in hours... 6:10 or thereabouts which was spot on my race plan estimate and I was shocked to see that to be quite honest. Chatted up with Angus, was sort of upbeat about things despite feeling rugged from the heat, and knowing it was now time for the midday hot loop. Fueled up and out I go again....
Up to the Gorge Overlook. Made decent time, obviously slower than the first loop but not bad. I seem to mentally like the harder (most uphill) sections of this course. This one in particular. It sets up well for the ultrarunner with obvious hiking and running points.
The fire tower section was a struggle as the marathon runners started at noon and began picking me off here like I was standing still. I worried about heat exhaustion for a few minutes as I become mildly dizzy and weak but that passed quickly with some walking and I was able to jog it in to the aid station. I was having a rather strange problem with my shoe though. It started at the end of the first loop and I had adjusted it once already but the stock insert kept sliding and would eventually work it's way up and nearly out of the back left side of the my shoe. So I had that fun thing to deal with as well as the heat and a feel of exhaustion. I stopped at the fire tower and adjusted the laces and that temporarily resolved the issue but not completely as it slid again 10 miles later. Puzzled by this one as I've raced in this model of shoe (Altra Lone Peak) for 3 years now. Saw Angus one last time here at the fire tower and he helped straighten me out and get me on my way through the back section of the course. Due to crew rules, I would not see him until the end of the loop.
I made my way out to the "tourist" part of the course again, and had an impromptu run in with a local runner (I'd never met) just before the Falls. I met her crew/pacer earlier this year while I was out for a run on the Green Lane Lake trails. Her friend was admiring the Lady and we got to talking and she told me that she was going up to Mohican to crew/pace her friend. Not sure how the actual runner (Kari) recognized me? I must have a legendary hairy back or something. Anyways, the conversation with her was a nice diversion for a few minutes as we made the big climb on the bridal path up above the falls, but I left her to begin jogging down the trail once we topped out. Down below the dam someone had a sign, smile if you peed. I smiled of course, because one thing I was doing right in the heat was hydrating. I was pissing typically once every 1.5-2 hours.
Fewer marathon runners passing me now, and from here to the Covered Bridge I might have passed a few that had passed me earlier. Certainly back up on Hickory Ridge I passed some more but often times it was a game of leapfrog. I'd jog by them while they walked, then they'd run by me later. Running to stand still. It's what it felt like. I came to the realization here that I did not want to run this section again today or any other section for that matter, other than the one to get me to the end of the lap. The quit was coming into my head strongly now. I saw a dude really struggling with the heat, possible heat exhaustion just before the aid station. I apologized that I did not know how far to the aid, told him less than a mile, but really probably a half mile at best. I settled in there at the aid station for one more shoe adjustment, a cherry snow cone that was disappointingly bland, and reluctantly headed down the trail.
It was here where I knew I was done. The section I call the spin cycle again. I did not run, I mean jog it that poorly. But I had nothing. No real running gear, just an end-loss slog. The only reason I was here was to punch 16 tickets for the Western States Lottery and what is the point in that really? Assuming I get selected, to pay big bucks to go out and suffer again? It was not a very strong incentive, though the only reason I was here again this year. I knew I could not match my previous time here at Mohican, had nothing to prove to myself at this distance, and had lost complete interest in the WS qualifier. While the course is shaded, scenic enough in some parts, today it felt like non stop shuffling on the same twisty single track trail. Sort of like ground hog day with no end in sight. I was done, but I kept jogging it in. At the campground before the end of the loop I stopped in a restroom/shower next to the course and looked at myself in the mirror. I was very flushed in the face and looked hideous. Not sure if those few splashes of water even helped. It seemed like people in the campground were just looking at me in pity or in horror. Except the little kids. They always cheered and yelled and I'd wave back.
Finally back in the state park and the end of the loop. I told Angus I was pretty much done or feeling that way while I ate some pizza and pickles, and whatever else I could find. Meanwhile I put on a show that I was not quite yet done, asking him to top off my bottles, gels, and tailwind stash. I grabbed my headlamps as it was 7pm now and would be getting dark by the time I hit the fire tower section. It was pretty much a pose though. I knew I would not be finishing, but hey you never know. One more section at least.
One more time up to the gorge overlook. The only runners now I thought were 100 mile racers, but I went past some gal who was just starting her second loop for the 50 miler. No offense, but I was immediately discouraged as I just assumed she was a 100 miler, and WTF was I doing behind her? So my vanity was being tested as well. A pacer for some younger dude called me "sir" and that set me off as well, but only light heartedly. "So you think I am old?". No Sir, I am in the military and it's how I talk he says. I should have kicked those guys ass during the climb but instead I just held back shuffling up the hill. It took them a mile to overtake my slogging so I did do some work but honestly my movement was not too swift. My good friend "poleman" (young dude with trekking poles) came up on me with his overly buoyant pacer as well. I had gone back and forth with him a few times today and thus gave him his moniker. That got us laughing about pole jokes. I pretty much stayed in my own dark place, not sharing how awful the day felt to me and how I would be quitting soon.
I visualized some pain in my left knee. Just there, down low on the medial side. Maybe a bit up there by the quad too. Yep, you know those places it's hurt all year. Time to stop. You don't want to ruin your summer now do you. Just stop. It's not really that you suck today, are weak in the head, but you have a physical problem. Angus will be up there and I bet he has a chair and a cold beer or four for me on ice. It's all lies though. I just can't take being out here much longer. I've lost total interest in the finish this time. It holds nothing I want today, plus my actual running does suck and it pains me to be behind some of these other runners, and so far behind my time of last year. I am not aging with dignity here!
Anyways, one last half hearted attempt to run with a mile left to the gorge overlook aid. The hill climbing pretty much tops out here and it's pretty sweet running to the AS. I get to the flat section, where I've been kicking the run back into gear earlier.... and I walk some more. On purpose. Thought i might try to run but nope. That knee you know... it really hurts now. I can feel it. Well not really. It's a mental ruse on my part. It's hurt worse than this during hour long trail runs this past month. I do jog for 10 or 20 yards but then check out entirely. Walk the downhill, look at the woods, the setting sun beginning to cast shadows on the trees. An easy stroll, a few turns, and I see Angus up ahead waiting at the aid station ready to take care of me again. He's ready to grab my bottles to refill. I've barely touched them the last hour. Angus, I need a chair and a cold beer this time. I take a seat, sip one down, think about heading out again for just a moment. Maybe a beer has turned the table for me. I think I will have another one please. And so I do. It's relaxing up here, sitting in this chair with a cold beer. I am that guy this year, and it's ok. It's just running and I want to do some more this year eventually.
Sorry about the DNF XT but it's probably for the best. Get that knee some time to heal.
DNF's are not for the best.. you can't convince me of that. Yet.
Ugh. When your head isn't in the race, it's really hard to finish up, especially with such a long distance. Congrats on the 58 miles, that is nothing to sniff at!
I do think it was a head thing for the most part, seeing my time when I stopped and if I projected a finish it would have been 1-2 hours off my goal this year. Seeing the results too all the fields was much slow and a high DNF rate (60%) due to the heat. Usually I am good in the heat, but this year it's been so cool in the spring. Oh well.
Nice effort. We still love you.
And FWIW, if either of my kids encountered you and did not say "sir", I'd beat their asses. Sometimes people don't think you are old, they just have mean moms.
Sorry XT. 100 milers seem such a mental game, and if you weren't feeling it, it's not something you can fake.
I did have to laugh at "I must have a legendary hairy back or something.
Sometimes sitting in a chair with a cold beer is the best thing to do for yourself. DNFs are hard and the first one especially so. <3
Thanks... really was hoping for a more celebratory beer but as Forest says "it happens".
Your back hair IS legendary. Fact.
I think your scalp said to its hair, "GET OFF OF ME, DAMNIT", and your back was like, "THE WATER IS WARM OVER HERE!"
Your comment about groundhog day with there being no end in sight couldn't be more true. I'm sorry it didn't work out this time, but it happens to the best of them at some point (and all of us mortals, sometimes multiple times). It also really sucks and is demoralizing to have a whole bunch of peppy fresh runners blowing by you when you're slogging along feeling like shit.
I hope you can rest the knee up and get in some fun running this summer.
I am cracking up about your comment as you had to suffer one time with that view for a long time.
So thanks for the laugh... I needed it!
No shit about the marathon runners. Last year only the fastest dude passed me toward the end of the first loop because they started so much earlier. Having them start at noon meant they were on us like blazes in our second loop. It pretty much sucked.
2017-06-24 1:36 PM
Dave, it's best that you pulled the plug, knee troubles are nothing to mess around with and I say that from experience. You got a lot of guts just lining up and giving it a shot. Rest up and enjoy the rest of the summer on the trails.
Yeah, I've had that knee scoped back in 2011. Does not feel like it did back then, still just not right most of this year. Oh well. Maybe I will find a fall backup plan or scratch this whole WS idea completely.
You know the saying: "There are two kinds of ultra runners: those who have DNF'ed, and those who haven't DNF'ed... yet." It happens to everyone- and it sucks for everyone, no matter what the reason for the DNF.
You weren't sounding real confident leading up to it, which often doesn't mean anything if other factors can snap you into a groove (good weather, good pace, good conversation, whatever), but I think the heat didn't do you any favors.
Maybe you're just burned out and need a break from ultras for a little while? I've got to say, not having any planned feels really good to me right now, and I'm trying to learn how to race shorter distances again.
You'll be back!
I definitely was not my usual confident self for this one!
I'm not racing as much as you, so don't really feel the burnout. Might take one more crack at this stupid WS thing this year. We'll see how I bounce back in a few weeks. I do have sort of a crappy 60 mile run in the training log at least.
Beast of Burden is August 8. You can still register I think, and I'm not doing it so I know they have an extra buckle.
It's flat and easy- except for the heat.
Oh, that race would make me mental. I will pass on that one. If I do another 100 this year it needs to be on the WSQ list.
Dave, I really hope you don't give up on the WS goal. Even if you don't do it, I think it is important to have that one thing that deep down you just want and no one can get it for you but you, and if you never get it, it's fine because it is more important to just keep aiming to get there. I still am hoping to go back to MN and run a sub-4. I probably won't since I can barely run 10 miles without 6 miles of that being in utter disgust, but maybe just maybe...
100 miles in June anywhere east of the Rockies is going to be a challenge. You just have to put this one behind you somewhere. DNFing this race after struggling with your body to cooperate while training doesn't define you as a runner...finishing Chicago on a busted Hammie after a great training cycle does.
Let yourself recoup. Take care of the knee. Have some beers by the pool. Run with the pups. Get a wax.
Find a new WSQ!
Thanks for the reply and the kind words. I think I am most disappointed in the mental quit on this one but it's fading. I am almost positive I could have finished and not done any damage but I just did not want too. The beers around the pool are helping, and the plan is to test the running waters again late next week. Ease into things, see how the knee feels. I am fairly confident there are no tears, just mild arthritis flaring up (according to ortho). I seem to have become victim to fluid buildup after long efforts. I hope that stops happening.
Powered by mwForum © 1999-2015 Markus Wichitill