|From 2009 McNaughton Park 100|
The first 40 miles on Friday afternoon and evening went OK. It was very muddy and hard running, but I met some good people and tried to enjoy the day and night. I easily made my goal of 40 miles the first day. Unfortunately, the mud running really got to me that night as I slept. It was cold in my tent and sleeping bag and I didn't sleep well. I kept thinking about getting out at 6am to run more loops in that mess. When I heard Andy giving the pre-race briefing at 5:45am, I told myself,"Wait until they head out, then grab some coffee, and decide what to do." I was fooling myself...I had already decided this was it for me. I HAD NO REASON TO RUN.
Without motivation, all is lost. I wasn't running for myself (I had finished this 100 before and this year wasn't going to be a PR), I wasn't running for a friend or family member (I admire those that do), I wasn't running for a charity cause...I basically was running to see Andy the RD for the last time at McNaughton Park (the races will be moving to Vermont next year). Guess what? I achieved that goal before the race as I picked-up my packet and said hello to Andy and congratulated him on creating a fine set of races over the years. OK, time is 10:30am on Friday and I've achieved my primary objective. The rain was still coming down and the wind was picking up. It was cold and the trail was looking pretty sad. Water was already digging trenches in the first downhill right at the start. I could hear the creeks swelling with rushing cold water. It wasn't going to be a fun day. And...I HAD NO REASON TO RUN.
On days like this, you need a reason to run. Last year, I had three DNFs to avenge. I KNEW I was going to persevere and finish the race. No matter what. Same for my first 100 miler at Rocky Raccoon. I didn't know anything about 100 milers, but I did know I came to Huntsville State Park with two friends and I was going to finish! I did. So did Jeff & Gregg (even though we all had major problems). If you have a reason to run, you'll run. If you have no motivation, then you'll find an excuse to stop. I didn't need an excuse...I just had my coffee on Saturday morning, yanked my timing chip from my ankle, and handed it to Andy..."This wasn't my year" I told him. It wasn't the course that beat me, it was me that beat me. I didn't care. Why go on for another 60 miles? I could pack up my crap and be home in a couple hours. I preferred clean clothes and time with my wife rather than more nasty mud and stream crossings in Pekin, IL.
I wish the best for all the runners still on the course. Tracy is shooting for a 150 mile win, Jerry is running for his wife, Carey is trying to get his "DNF monkey" off his back. Good luck to them! They have reasons to run and I hope they achieve their goals. Me, I'm back home feeling just fine. Tired, achy, and hungry, but fine. I made the right decision at the right time. If I had stopped and gone home Friday night, I'd have been second-guessing myself. If I was still out there now---my oh my--I'd be unhappy. I ran a good 40 miles, toughed out some miserable conditions on the trail, and decided that was enough. I need a challenge to motivate me and my running. Maybe it'll be the Gnaw Bone 50K or the Buffalo Trace 7-Day Stage Race. Or Howl at the Moon 8-Hour? We'll see.
NOTE: You can click on the photo album at the top of this post to view all of my McNaughton Park race photos. They aren't great, but I was tired and it was getting dark.
PS: I've only had 4 DNFs in my whole life of running...all 4 have been at the McNaughton Park 100. The event moves to Vermont next year. Glad I finished the 100 miler in 2009--I don't want to see what Andy dreams up for his new New England race. Good luck Andy! You're the best.