Monday, June 10, 2013

Pity, party of one (or Adrenaline 65k race report)

The idea of running 40 miles only 2 weeks after running the Hom100 was always a questionable endeavor, but I knew that it would likely be the last time I got to have this much quality time on my feet before the Black Hills 100 on June 29. If nothing else, the heat would be good for me :)

As with most races, adrenaline (no pun intended) and excitement often gets you fired up at the start of the race. Because the first 4 miles of the course is pretty smooth, it makes for some good single-track running...

I went out pretty fast on the first loop and was probably expending more energy just trying to stay hydrated and cool - which wasn't easy. I went through 1.5 L of (tepid) water in the 4 miles prior to the first aid station! Though I had taken headlamp as well, I somehow got this crazy idea that I could finish the first loop by the time it got dark...why?! I have no idea. After stumbling on one of the many rocky section on the back half of the course, it didn't take much convincing to turn on my light.

First lap done (way too fast I might add)
Starting the second lap was not an issue. I felt really good and it didn't take much convincing to keep me going. I distinctly remember starting off the second loop without my headlamp on just absorbing the night and the stars. I also distinctly remember holding my arms out to the side - flying through the night - saying, "I love running at night".

Oh, how my tuned had changed by mile 15.

Mental abyss #1
Reduced to a slow walk with my head hung low, I had clearly demanded too much of myself in the oppressive heat. Though I was hydrating fine (fine = I peed), I had already fallen into a deep mental abyss. I walked a good portion of mile 16 trying to come up with a rational excuse to drop out when I reached the finish line.

"That cactus looked at me funny"

"I don't like the color of this dirt"

"My bib number isn't pinned on straight"

Seriously. Anything to make it end...

Pity party for one
The look on my face above says it all. Dejected. Low. Pissed off. Not happy with how I was feeling, I shuffled over to my drop bag and sat on my cooler for about 15 minutes still contemplating why (if) I should keep going. Staring at the clock though, I began to get outraged with the idea that the clock was still ticking and physically I felt fine, yet was unable to make a decision one way or the other.

After weighing my options for a while (and confirming my race bib was on straight), I decided that I would wander over to the aid station to at least get some fresh water and cold soda. One of the great things about volunteers (at Aravaipa events) is that they're not just anyone off the street...these are runners who know what you're going through. After a bit of self-loathing, empathy and chit-chat, I was feeling a little better mentally and decided to fill up my bottles with Tailwind again. I set out into the night for my third loop.

Night miles are long(er) miles but I was constantly reminding myself to just take the course 4 miles at a time - aid station to aid station. Do the time and the miles would follow.

After leaving the remote aid station, I started getting pissed off at my relative clumsiness while trying to navigate some of the rocky sections of the trail. Twisting ankles, sharp rocks on already blistered areas and stubbed toes were hurdling me into another dark place as midnight started to approach.

I made it back to the start/finish line shortly after midnight and again, was not in the mood to discuss anything except ending my misery and writing it off as a sub-40-mile training run. I parked my sweaty ass on the cooler again and tried once more to persuade myself that I would feel better driving home while stewing in my own wretched body odor, sweat and caked-on dirt.

And yet again, for every reason I tried to conjure up to end the madness, I couldn't bring myself to give into the course or my own lack of confidence. It was a rare instance in which my body was the one forcing my mind to get its shit together. So I kept going.

Loop 4 proved to be better. Perhaps it was the relative temperatures dropping that were made everything less labored or that I had my don't-give-a-shit-blinders securely on...either way, I ran through the night. Up, down and everything in between. Aside from my feet, I felt physically strong.

This time, there was no internal monologue or discussion as I approached the start/finish line to end loop 4 and begin the last 8 miles. I did sit down to rest my feet and stretch a bit. Jay Danek stopped over to see how I was doing and to help me refill my pack...he relayed how his night went and we had some laughs catching up. It was a good comedic interlude and definitely helped lift my spirits.

Nothing spectacular about the last 8 miles other than I just ran. I ran what felt like 8-minutes miles the entire way (they were actually more like 11-12 minute miles!) The only thing motivating me was the idea of coming in under 9 hours. Which I did...

8 hours and 52 minutes. Good enough to finish 11th out of 20 finishers...

I'm glad I stuck with it. I've learned quite a bit about my mental fortitude lately and it will go a long way in helping me get through the Black Hills 100 here in a couple weeks.

At least in South Dakota, there won't be any cacti taunting me...


  1. Good stuff as always Trevor. I was glad to see you hang tough and beat the heat. You're definitely ready for a big race at Black Hills. can't wait to hear about that course. I wish I would have found you and your pity party, I may have finished.

    1. Thanks Jay. I feel strong physically and have learned quite a bit about my mental fortitude over the last 3 races. I am looking forward to the Black Hills and hope I do not over-estimate my abilities with all that climbing!