Tuesday, August 11, 2009

disappointed. for now.

My tweet on Saturday night post-Mt. Disappointment 50-Mile finish read:

After today's masochistic race, am seriously thinking of retiring from ultras and spending weekends golfing and surfing instead.

And I was pretty damn serious too, especially considering how my golf game sucks and I have yet to catch a real wave.

Somewhere along the course as I was battling light-headedness, nausea, a bad knee, and the heat, I thought to myself, "Where the ƒüç˚is the fun in this?" Really now! I had one of those soul-searching questions, and I could not give myself an honest answer.

Now I may sound like I'm whining and crying like a little sissy, which I probably am, but before time erases the painful reality of this experience and sugarcoat it with a "job well done" kind of memory, I feel the need to jot this down. This race was not fun at all. Sure there were some bright spots like the beautiful trails and the spectacular views, and running with friends and seeing some of them cheering at the aid stations. But when I am contemplating doing this race again in a year, I must remind myself that this was a specially brutal day for me.

It wasn't purty, and it might've been my toughest race to date.

My first mistake came at the first 20-miles of the race. I felt I was going too fast especially on the downhills. I had pounded my knee, and now it was letting me know it wasn't happy about it.

Refueling at the Red Box aid station at Mile 20. Photo courtesy of @andrea122887

I was also having tummy issues early on and was doing a poor job of nourishing myself with my gels, aid station food and my own drop bag nutrition supplements. By the time I rolled down to mile 26 at the West Fork aid station, I was feeling pretty low that I was contemplating taking the 50K option and shortening my day.

Lori smiled all the way for a great finish to place 2nd in her AG.
Photo courtesy of Ben G.

Then I heard a little voice behind me say "E-Rod!" I turned around and it was Lori. We joked around for a bit, I took a seat, got myself some refreshments and we soon headed out. Jakob H., who I met at last year's PCT50 came up and decided to join us. He, too, was hitting a pretty low point but decided to move on with the race instead of doing the 50K. The three of us stayed together until the Newcomb aid station. There we found Thomas K. who was having some race day issues of his own.

The climb up out of West Fork to the Newcomb station. Lori and I met up with Ryan S. who I met at the SD100 training run and Jakob who ran up ahead to take our picture. ©Jakob H.

Jakob is enjoying a seat at Newcomb before tackling the next 9 miles to Shortcut Saddle. He and I always looked forward to the seats at the aid stations. ©Jakob H.

What followed must've been the one-two punch that knocked the wind out of me–a knee-tearing downhill of about 4 miles followed by the long and hot climb up to the next aid station. Lori had long since disappeared, apparently finding her wings and flying to the finish so it was just me and my compadre-in-pain. When I mentioned to Jakob that I was feeling a bit light-headed, the EMT from the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue asked if she can do a BP reading. It was low, but not low enough to DQ me for medical reasons. Dang! "Move on then, shall we?" I indicated to Jakob. The next 2.4 miles were drudgingly slow as Beiyi and Fred P. caught up with us. We arrived at Shortcut Saddle where they had a buffet which included pizza, boiled potatoes, fruits and the "original sponge baths" or something like that. I tried to eat some potatoes but they didn't stay in very long. I know, it's gross, but it happens.

Beiyi leads Fred, me and Jakob to Shortcut Saddle. ©Ben G.

Ben G. gave us each a wet sponge to cool us off. Jakob looks like he just stepped
out of the shower while I look like I could seriously use one. ©Ben G.

I got a second wind for the mostly downhill run to the last aid station at West Fork 2. We were there for several minutes until Gabor ran us out. Ahhh, I didn't want to leave yet!! I had done the final 4.5 miles before and I knew what was in store–the Kenyon Devore trail. It's the RD's idea of a sick joke. And I was doing my best to prolong the inevitable.

The worst of the worst came for me with less than a mile to go. I was reduced to the walking dead. Beiyi passed me up as I was violently trying to puke my guts out on the side of the trail. Again, I asked myself, "Where is the fun in this?" I had not been able to eat anything solid for the last several hours and now I could not even keep water down. Damn! I had not experienced anything like this before.

When I came out of the woods and into the parking lot, my friends, bless their souls, started chanting "Eric! Eric! Eric!" A couple of camera flashes disoriented me and I must've stumbled like the zombie runner.

Where am I? Oh yes, near the finish line just up that last climb.
Behind me are Jack C. and Fred in the neon green shirt. ©Jakob H.

Crossing the finish line, I didn't experience any of the post-race euphoria that normally accompanies the completion of an ultra. Relief that this was all over was probably more what I felt.

What I get for my efforts. This one will live in infamy for awhile.

Apparently, the EMTs were aware of my condition and decided that they would give me some TLC, serving me up with watermelons, soup and some good old-fashioned O2. That shot of oxygen sure did wonders.

The day after

I went to bed and I was knocked out for about 12 hours. Whew! I needed that! When I weighed myself in the morning I found out that I lost almost 10lbs. from the previous day's run. No wonder I felt so sick. So I spent the next several hours gorging myself with rice, lechon, veggies, halo-halo, taquitos, horchata, tiramisu, and whatever else I could get my hands on to put back some weight. I also went for a light swim and a little bit of pool jogging to help with my muscle recovery.

Someone asked me if I would do the race again, and I didn't hesitate to say "No!" After all, I still could not see where the fun in it was. But I know I will be back, if only to settle the score, and especially if my golf game doesn't improve and the waves continue to wipe me out.

Thanks to all who were out there lending their support, either running or helping out at the stations. There were plenty so please bear with me if I forget someone--Jakob who I ran and walked with for 25 miles, Lori S., Beiyi, Ben G. who was injured but was at almost aid station, Carmela, rePete, Andrea E. and friend, my carpool buds , Wilson and Jack who patiently waited, the DP who was there in spirit, and all my T-Headz friends, too many to mention. Big props also go to the Mt. D volunteers, to Gary for putting together a great event, and to the Montrose and Sierra Madre SAR for making sure all runners got off the trail safely.

For more photos of the race, check out Jakob's SmugMug gallery and commentary.