Because I really do want to be comfortable. And have fun. And check out the wildflowers while going, "Wow. Oh, wow! [pause] Omigod, wow! Look at that- holy@#%!": exactly what I kept muttering in non-stop amazement as the Cascade Crest course began to unfold before me.
(Photo by Glenn Tachiyama, near summit of Thorp Mt, elev 5856', Mt Rainier in the cloudy background. Mile 84.)
I do think of the beauty of this course as luxurious. The other "luxury"? Allowing myself to indulge in rest, care and food while being bundled up in a warm car! [more details in the next installment, but I will just say that Leslie McCoubry has earned some mega-trail karma! Scott McCoubry and Charlie Crissman (RD) were out there, too, giving me literally the hat/shirt/jacket off their backs]. I stopped twice during the race for about one hour each time: Olallie Meadows 47M and again at Kachess Lake 68M (plus a fifteen minute nap there). I had not exactly been poking along for the first half of my race. I had written splits for a 27:?? finish and when I came into Olallie I was right on track. If you subtract the initial hour lost there, I continued effectively on track until reaching Kachess. There I would've gotten fully another hour behind my target split even without stopping again, and two hours behind after Mineral Creek. I really underestimated the night time slowing. Given the runability of much of the course at night (winding gravel road- which became subject to course vandalism and issues for several runners) I thought I would have made much better time.
In the end, after going over all my splits- real v. goal- I realize that my finish was 2.5hrs more than my "safety" split goal, and the time I was stopped largely accounts for that. But knowing that I was 4hrs away from my stretch goal- that's a wake up call! To console myself, I look to the likes of those who, like someone I read about recently that posted a 5' PR at a recent 100M (where? look this up). Then, there are those who literally have finished DFL then returned later to excel (ultrastud Keith Knipling, finished 2nd at MMT 2008 barely finished his first MMT, and I just have to mention he was 3rd at CCC100 2008 then 1st/CR at The Ring two weeks later) or win outright the same 100M (Jamie Gifford at CCC100). These guys are phenomenal and way out of my league, but it is just to make the point (and give myself encouragement) that your result at your first 100 miler does not tell the story that follows.
So, the end of this story- in terms of pacing, performance- is that I declined completely in my second half and also required some care to avoid my core temp dropping too low. Luckily, it never did in any significant way, but only because of active efforts to combat the cold before going back on the course.
The main two reasons after talking with my coach were 1) not enough fluids- fluid intake/balance is crucial to the continued function of your body's mechanisms to regulate heat loss 2) calorie deficit. I definitely realized later in the afternoon that I was coming up short on fluids (one handheld? what was I thinking?). I thought I would get by till I picked up my hydration pack, but that was at 9:20pm- that's 11'20" into the race. I saved myself only by the 2S! caps/hr I'd taken all day until sundown. But mild/moderate dehydration had also led to a performance decline, and that kept me from continuing to generate leg turnover and heat at the halfway point and later. If I just could have avoided even the few minutes of cooling at Olallie and just got moving quickly, that and having more to drink could have made the crucial difference.
So, this installment was supposed to be about the luxury trail race. Oh, and it definitely was- the most phenomenal and jaw-dopping views, taking time to savor every turn, and cozy rest breaks where I was fed pierogies and grilled cheese, bundled and warmed- oh yes, it was undoubtedly the luxury version! But it was also the way I stayed safe when my body started freaking out and to maintain, to repeatedly get back out there and finish.
By the way, I never stopped saying "wow". Well, maybe around hour 29 (or it was a different kind of "wow")...truly, the beauty of the Cascades, of Rainier, wildflowers among giant cedars, the rush you feel running on the most beautiful trail on the perfect day...then the crushing pain of swearing it is just never going to end, walking through a forest turned crucible, reducing me completely...I'm still saying "wow".