|Me running the first half of the Plain 100 course in August with Dan Probst. Picture courtesy Dan Probst.|
I actually did quit when I could have kept running (or death marching I should say). It goes completely against the 100 mile commandments to stop because you don't want to death march, but I did it. I ran the best 100k I could on race day and left it at that. I was in 6th place overall (2nd woman) and could've left Deep Creek in 4th place overall as some of my competitors were still at Deep Creek. And as it later turns out, 1st place dropped out not long after that, which would've put me in 3rd. I did the calculations in my head the last 10 miles of my 100k and figured I could run a 29 hour race (a very good finishing time at Plain), even with massive death marching in the last loop. But it wasn't worth it to me. I was not enjoying the race, and more importantly my legs were flat.
That flat feeling came on strong around mile 11. I cruised through the first 9 miles, running up hills and feeling good enough to hold 4th/5th place overall. When I got to the steeper section of trail around mile 11, I felt a deep fatigue in my legs. I bent over and paused my climbing. My legs were very tired feeling. I have felt that before. In my first 100 mile race, Cascade Crest, I had nothing for the climbs. That motivated me to work hard this past year on hills specifically. Yet, apparently you can still be left feeling flat on race day. I knew what was possible from having run the Tahoe Rim 100 in July. I knew I could feel good almost the enitre race, running most of the course.
But on race day this past weekend, with a deep feeling fatigue, I did my best to keep on my 26 hour pace. I maintained that pace until the monstrous 2nd climb up Signal Peak (mile 35.5). Signal Peak is 5.7 miles with 5,000 feet of climbing. It is the biggest, baddest climb I have ever done in a race. It put me almost an hour behind on my splits.
My ultimate decision to drop at Deep Creek was made because I did not want to walk huge portions of the 2nd half of the race. My legs were very tired already and I knew that if I dropped, I would be able to resume my training sooner without putting more stress on my body. Did I make the right decision? Yes. I had no other choice to make at at Deep Creek because my head was no longer in the race. Yet.... as my body heals, I feel disappointment that I did not push on. For, pushing on is what finishing a 100 miler is all about.