Monday, September 9, 2013

2013 Wasatch 100. DNF.

This is a long post, and is for myself--I needed the therapy! Feel free to skip it and read the short version.

Short Version: I dropped out at Big Water in Millcreek due to being a wuss.

Pretty much sums up my day!

Long Version:

It's taken me several hours to digest what happened. As I write this I am still flooded with a myriad of emotions, mostly disappointment for not toughing it out to the end; and gratitude for family and friends that loved and supported me unconditionally despite myself. Going into this race I told my wife that I felt like this was going to be a life event. Like getting married, going into the MTC, moving to California, I knew that my life would be altered forever from that experience. I had the feeling that Wasatch would be one of those experiences. It was an experience to say the least.

Happier times at the start line.
I ran the first 20 miles at what I felt was a very conservative pace. I was at the Francis maintenance sheds at 4:25 and feeling fine. I got slimed by a sweaty runner who looked like ZZ Top during this section which was gross. Heading up to the Bountiful B Aid Station, my quads started to cramp on uphills. I also had shallow breathing which I hadn't experienced before in training and my left ear was clogged--maybe a remnant of a little cold/allergies for the last couple weeks?

Pulling into BB AS, Rick Robinson greeted me, filled my bottles, gave me a popsicle and a bag of fruit. I've seen Rick out with his dog several times when training for this race. Rick--I owe you. All of the volunteers were the same--I owe all of you.  From Sessions lift-off I ran with Steve Newman, which was great. We've run many miles together and it felt good to have a friendly face nearby. He kept nerding on his time compared to last year, his heartrate, etc. We both commented on the heat and the wind that felt like a hair dryer. Steve stopped to make a call and we split up. In hindsight, I think I should have waited for Steve, because I started to really cramp and battle demons into Big Mountain at mile 39. I would limp the ups, and slow run the downs. I wasn't moving real well and I passed a sign dropping into BM AS that said something like "Before you give up, remember why you signed up." Look, I realize I'm a grown man doing a race for fun, but I shed a tear or two right there. I had some dark moments going into the aid station. Immediately when I got there Jami and Ben hooted and hollered, encouraged, and set me up in a chair with a vanilla coke, chips and other food. They kept asking how I was feeling, etc. I couldn't respond for several minutes for fear of just completely having a bawl-fest. I had trained all year, sacrificed time away from family to do this and it was turning into a disaster!

I was prepared to drop right there--I didn't think my legs would allow me to continue. After some deliberating, Jami (you're the best Jami) got my butt out of the chair and we started out. I made it about 2 minutes before I had to sit down because of the quad cramps. According to Jami this continued every .1 of a mile for several miles. I'd stop and sit, the cramps would subside, then they'd start again when I stood back up. Frustrating--I've never had anything like this in any other run I've done. I must have gotten passed by 100 people during this section as we sat, walked, sat, walked; cramped, waited, cramped, waited.

I kept telling Jami that I was dropping at Lamb's, that she was a great support and I love her, but I'm dropping at Lamb's. 6+ hours after leaving Big Mountain we rolled into Lamb's. I weighed in and I was down 8 lbs. from my starting weight. Wow. I could eat stuff even though I didn't want to, but I think I'd mentally mailed it in and stopped eating because I was dropping at Lamb's. My brother Jeff flew up from Tucson to be here to help, and Greg Reynolds drove up from Ogden to pace, Kelsey and Matt drove from Provo, and Ben missed ComiCon to help out too. I had a great support team. They were all so supportive and it was great to see them. I sat and ate for about an hour. Greg tried to get me to go. Jeff tried to get me to go. I felt so terrible about his flying up here to help that I finally got up and we walked out of Lamb's with Jeff. I couldn't believe they got me to walk out of there. I said I would drop at Big Water Aid Station and Jeff said "Well, we'll have to agree to disagree for a little while."

Jeff was awesome. We talked about the ER he works in, football, inside jokes, and listened to Metallica, Daft Punk (I can only see Stephen Colbert dancing when I hear that song) and Justin Beiber. My legs had really started to come around. My stomach was still touchy and GU chomps were the best. I had a tootsie pop and it took me half and hour to eat it. We passed several people on this section and I was able to run the downhill and felt okay. Mentally I was such a wimp that I did end up dropping at Big Water. I was anguished and said no mas like a prizefighter failing to answer the bell at the start of the next round.

So, a couple of days removed from the experience, I've learned a few things about myself, some of which I'm not happy about. I gave up too easily I think. Physically I think I could have continued, albeit at a slow pace, to further down the trail. I was worried about Desolation because you can't drop out there, so I quit at Big Water. Sometimes you can train and do everything to prepare, but it comes down to race day, and I didn't have it on race day. I still feel like I let several people down by not finishing, but the sting has already faded some as optimism for next time has replaced some of the anguish.

Lessons learned:

#1 Listen to your pacers. My group was so encouraging and positive. I was wrapped in self-pity because of my legs and couldn't step back and see myself objectively. Maybe my legs would have given out for real further down the road, but I should have let them decide on that and not me. I've read about relying on pacers, but until you get to that point in the race, you don't understand it. Now I do.
#2 Embrace the suck. When it gets sucky if I can laugh at myself and my sorry state that goes along way to making me feel like it is tolerable.
#3. Train a little better maybe? This is a hard one because I felt I did about as much as I could while still being there for my job, wife and kids. I think I should do a few harder runs than I did so I can glimpse what I'll have to go through to finish the 100 distance.

Running is still fun. I can't wait to get at it some more.


Luke said...

Layne- I really appreciate your post. One thing that you didn't mention is how amazing you actually did. Sure you didn't finish, but you did cover 60+ miles under your own power. You got "knocked" down time and time again between Big Mountain and Lamb's yet, you got up and kept moving in the spitting in the face of defeat. Did you make the finish line, well no, but we all learn so much more about ourselves when things don't go to plan. You should not consider this a defeat or a failure, but rather a step in the journey. After all ultrarunning is so much more about the process and not one silly race. You did something truly amazing. Often in this sport perspective becomes so distorted with runners doing huge mileage and this mindset of ONLY making it 60 miles is sub-par. IMHO 60 miles is pretty damn far, and you did something amazing. Keep at it and enjoy the journey! Strong work!

Layne said...

Thanks for the kind words Luke. Great to see you at the race.

KDAY said...

This is rad. Mainly because to some extent, i know exactly what you were going through.. sort-of. I've been in that situation more times than not and what you said about listening to those around you, is sooo important.

It's easy to sit there, down and out, focused on your own self pity. It's sort-of the natural thing that happens. But when you find the time to talk, laugh or just be next to someone, it can change the entire game.

This season, I found myself in the dumps during a race. Was getting dropped by people who, on even an average day, would not come close. I decided to stop and sit down under a tree. The thought of that to begin with was like committing suicide. But I did it anyway. It felt like it was my only option. As I sat there, in the shade of that tree, my perspective changed entirely. I realized how luck and fortunate I was to be where I was and living the life I get to live. This little issue, was nothing in the grand scheme of things and I needed to get over it (like you mentioned) I listened to the encouragement of others, chatted with as many people as I could and made sure that everyone knew, how good the experience actually was, despite how I felt physically. I bombed the race entierly, but crossed the line as happy as if I'd won. It took me over 15 years to find this and hold on to it and you just nailed it.

You've got a good head on your shoulders, an amazing knack for adventure and the will power to find a way. You did dang good, kid. I'm very impressed and super stoked for you.

I have no doubt that you'll be back at it in no time. Great work, Layne.

Layne said...

Thanks Kevin. I don't have quite the well of racing experience as you to get me through the suck!

It was an invaluable learning experience that I'm sure I hope to draw from in the future.

Steve Caldwell said...

I've been so inspired by your race and personal reflection. Is that not the reason we do things like this? Not to win, compete with others or necessarily even finish, but to truly test ourselves? We'll never know our limits if we never fail. You are a stud, brother. Hopefully we can do that together someday.

Wilson Alpine said...


I just read this. Wow. Strong work. From where I'm sitting, 60 miles and what, like 20k vert sound more awful than pushing the captain twice in a row. I continue to be in awe of all you crazy suffer-junkies who choose to run far be it a 50k or a 50 miler or whatever. I hope to see you at a ski race. It's coming soon. Best,