Monday, August 16, 2010

My Worst Howl Ever

This past weekend I "ran" my 10th Howl at the Moon 8-Hour race in Danville, IL.  It was terrible.  Well, the event was awesome (as usual), but I was terrible.  It was easily my worst Howl ever.  I only got in 33.9 miles.  Over the last 9 races, I have averaged 43 miles and have reached 47 miles twice.  I dream of knocking out 50+ miles one day...but not this past weekend.  I just wanted to survive.  The last 2 weeks have been hectic and emotional--an undeserved DNF at the Canadian Death Race, my mother passing away, and a job promotion at work (with lots of extra duties and little extra assistance).

I intended to turn this race into a memorial run in honor of my mom, but I was too drained.  After 20 miles, I had enough.  The tank was empty and my stomach was turning on me.  Even though I was thirsty and hungry, I was fearful of consuming anything that might further upset my queasy stomach.  I walked, I sat, I utilized plenty of port-o-potties.  Nothing seemed to help. Several times I wanted to call it quits. This "low point" lasted about 3 hours.  Finally my stomach started to feel better and I could consume some coke and water.  Then an electrolyte pill and iced tea.  Then chocolate milk...things were looking up!  Walking and chatting with friends eased my condition.  I actually jogged much of the last hour of the race and felt OK at the 8 hour mark.  If this was a 12 hour event...I probably would have suffered for an extra 4 hours...but in my mind I dreamed of coming back and running strong for another 4 hours.  Maybe next year.  

I thought a lot about my mother and sister during the run.  I put their initials ("SM") on both of my hands so I would be reminded of them with every arm swing. I imagined getting extra energy from didn't happen.  Obviously, I was too tired physically and emotionally from the last couple of weeks to be inspired by anyone or anything.  At least I didn't drop out.  That's success.  I still miss my sister Sandy--it's been 4 years since her tragic car accident.  And I miss my mom too--even though it's only been a little over a week.  Who am I supposed to call to brag about my running prowess?  Or my running failures and mistakes?  I'm sure both of them would have thought I was stupid for continuing in the heat when I felt so bad.  That's what big sisters and mothers are supposed to do--they worry about you.  I'm fine today and already considering new adventures and races.

Even though I had a terrible day, I was glad I completed the full 8 hours and hung out for post-race eating, socializing, and awards.  At the awards ceremony, I was surprised to find out I was inducted into the race's inaugural Howl "Hall of Fame" (actually I found this out race morning from Marc the RD).  What a cool deal!  I had my worst race ever, but then it ended on a high note.  I was humbled to be among the first few Hall of Fame inductees.  Over the last 20 years, the race has seen some very impressive performances and I am truly honored to be included among such great runners--including several of my buffalo friends!

Even though we had pretty warm temperatures and extreme humidity, the clouds hung around for a good portion of the race and made it bearable.  One day we'll actually have cool weather, low humidity, a nice breeze, and overcast skies...and on that day I'll be ready to bust out a 50+ mile run!  No matter what, I'll be back next year for my 11th Howl. Registration for the 2011 event opens up on April 23, 2011.  The race will be on August 13.  Mark your calendars.

Here are my updated Howl at the Moon statistics:
Total Races: 10
Low: 33.9 miles (2010)
High: 47.06 miles (2006, 2008)
Total Miles: 426.08
Average Miles: 42.6
Best Placing: 12th (2005)
Worst Placing: 99th (2010)
2010 = inducted into inaugural Howl Hall of Fame!

[Photo at top, me with beer, courtesy of Janak Patel.]

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