Sunday, May 22, 2011

CRUD 8-Hour Race Ends Up Cruddy

I'm sad, disappointed, and a bit depressed.

I'm not sure this is actually possible, but I DNF'd at a timed event.  I dropped out after about 4.5 hours in the CRUD 8-Hour Trail run on Saturday.  I'm sure my laps will be recorded in the finisher results, but I dropped out.  If this was a 50K, it would be a true DNF.  I finished 6 laps (~3.5 miles each loop) for a total of 21 miles in 4.5 hours.  I was seriously dehydrated and my stomach was queasy.  My head was throbbing.  It was getting difficult to drink and eat.  I slowed down and walked a lot of the last loop, but things didn't improve.  It felt terrible turning in my timing chip to Mike and Adam (the co-RDs).  I talked to a few runners, then packed my gear and headed home.  The 1.5 hour drive home did little to settle my stomach.  I still felt horrible.  Guess I made the correct choice...can't imagine how I would have felt if I stayed on the course and tried to finish the full 8 hours.  As things ended up, I didn't start feeling better until Sunday morning. Still, it was disappointing to end my run so soon.  Four hours is hardly a training run.  I need to figure out what happened and make changes so it doesn't happen again (see end of this post).

Couple of quick comments about the race itself...this is a great trail event!  They changed the loop course this year and it was hillier, but less muddy.  Mostly single-track trail with a bit of dirt access roads and open meadow/farmland running.  The vast majority of the course was in the woods and well-shaded.  Still, the warmth and humidity took a toll on the runners.  Even when I left before 1pm, lots of people were starting to stagger.  There is only the one aid station at the start/finish of the loop--but it's a good one!  Plenty of volunteers and a good supply of food items.  Mike and Adam do a fantastic job of taking care of, and encouraging, the runners.  This year they added a 24-hour event to the race.  Those folks started at 4pm Friday afternoon so everyone could finish together at 4pm Saturday.  I was impressed with those determined runners.  It never cooled off on Friday night (low was still warm at about 70 degrees with plenty of humidity).  Curious to see the full results.  I believe the 24-hour leader was on track to have about 90 miles.  I assume the 8-hour winner would have a little over 40 miles. UPDATE: Results are now posted.  24-hour winner had 91 miles. 8-hour winner had 39 miles.  Good mileage on a rough day!  My personal splits for the 6 laps: 39:39, 41:45, 41:02, 42:43, 47:43, 59:08 (total of 21 miles in 4:32).  It counts as a tough training run.

So what happened to me?  In my Thursday post I talked about being "frisky" and ready to really excel in my running...then I quit in the middle of an 8-hour race.  What's up with that?  Well, my body revolted on me.  I became dehydrated and nauseous.  It almost felt like I had mild food poisoning.  I suppose it was simply severe dehydration and mild heat exhaustion.  It had to be around 90-100% humidity (it even sprinkled a couple of times) and the temperatures got into the low 80s. Then the sun came out.  I was miserable.  I think the answer to my troubles lies in two places: training and racing strategy. 

I was under-trained and went out too fast for my current fitness level.  I haven't done any long runs since the Potawatomi 50 miler on April 9.  I did get in a few good long hikes in the Smoky Mountains, but that is no substitute for running.  I've had no runs over 10 miles since April 9.  I also haven't much opportunity to acclimate to the heat and humidity.  Just this past week I was running in the morning when it was in the 30s!  It's true that my running has improved over the last 4-6 weeks...but that doesn't translate into ultramarathon success.  I need more time to build my endurance and stamina.  Hopefully I'll also adapt to the heat.  The CRUD race may have turned out differently if I held back more in my early loops.  I did try to run very comfortably and walked up all the hills...but it may have been too quick considering it was already warm and humid at 8am.  Live and learn.  The real problem was my lack of specific training for an ultra.  I should train first and THEN sign up for a race when I feel I'm ready.  Unfortunately, so many ultramarathons fill up early,  you need to register well in advance of race day.  For some that equates to extra motivation to train, for me it just sets me up for failure.  I learned a good lesson at CRUD...and I am now humbled, but not injured.  I'll race another day. 

I'm already registered for the Howl at the Moon 8-Hour run on August 13.  I'm not signing up for any other races until I feel prepared.  That means no June 11 race for me...not the Carmel Marathon, not the Run Under the Stars 10-Hour, not the Lake Mingo trail run.  Nothing until I'm fit.  Time to train.  And I have a training plan...coming soon to a blog post near you!  Stay tuned.


Janice said...

I'm sorry you DNF'd. That's never a goof feeling. On the positive side, we learn the most about ourselves when we are not successful. Early in my tri racing, I pulled out of a race out of fear. That was back in '96. I'm still learning from that experience. I think things like this make us human....and what's better than being human?

Hope you are feeling better:)

Jim said...

Chris, I went through the same thing last fall at Farmdale 50. I went out too aggressive, and got behind on hydration. By the 3rd loop when things started warming up, I was nauseous, and didn't want to eat or drink. Although I did finish, I never want to duplicate the death march that was the last 2 loops.

I've found that if I carry my water in my handhelds instead of my belt holder, it serves me better two ways. First, it slows me down. I end up running a slower, more steady pace. Second, I end up drinking smaller amounts more regularly, since it's right there sloshing around in my hands.

Don't let this result get you down. Take away some knowledge for the future. You still got a 20 mile training run out of it! Get 'em next time!

Chris said...

Thanks Janice and Jim. I am recovered, humbled, and ready to resume training. Bring on Howl at the Moon 8-Hour race...well, not too quickly, but I'll be ready on August 13.

Ian said...

Chris: Sorry to hear about your CRUDdy race. Sounds like the job of a Chelsea boss (OK you knew that was coming). You'll bounce back for HOWL. You like that race. Good luck there (HOWL was my first ultra)

Chris said...


Howl was my first ultra too. I'll be back strong for that one!