Stories of an ultra runner and adventurer: an obsessive approach to the outdoors by Candice Burt

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Way the Water Flows

I struggled with my decision to do Run Rabbit Run 100 mile in Steamboat Springs or Plain 100 near Leavenworth, Washington, both on the same weekend. Since I had my airfare taken care of for my trip to Colorado, I couldn't resist going.  It seemed like the bigger of the two adventures, and the one that was a little scarier: traveling and competing in a really stacked field on tired legs. 

I knew I wasn't at the top of my form. I'd just run Cascade Crest 100 (CCC100) August 24-25 and I was happy with my finish there.  It was 3hr 40 min faster than when I had run the race in 2011.  I knew my body was tired and my plantar fasciitis had been bothering despite a big taper after CCC100.  I was stuck in that conundrum where I wanted to do RRR, but not in my current health. I was leaning more toward doing Plain 100 mostly because I'd save money from travel expenses and it is so low key.  In the end RRR won out.  In hindsight, I don't feel like I made the right decision, but at least I made the best one I could make with the information I had.
Heading up, up, up the Manitou Incline in the misty rain. Sad to see Manitou Springs, CO was hit pretty hard by the flooding.
From the very start of my stay in Colorado, it began raining.  As it turned out, I arrived right at the time Boulder began to flood.  I was in Boulder Tuesday visiting the Ultimate Directions storefront, and just a day or two later, Boulder was in a state of emergency.  That same day I drove to Steamboat Springs and camped at the pass, worried my car might sweep away in a flood, it was raining so much. I awoke with my car still firmly planted on the ground, whew.

I found myself feeling a little more nervous about RRR than I usually am before a race.  The night before the race, I went to bed at 11 pm, only to have to get up all night long, very sick.  I left messages for my crew, Danny and Dave (of Colorado) who were driving up that day for the race. I told them not to come since I was so sick, I might not even start the race. Danny said he had nothing else planned and would come anyway...just in case I decided to start. How lucky am I to have friends like this?! Thanks guys for being so selfless!

By 4am I was feeling like I could sleep. Lucky for me the race started at noon.  Seriously.  I caught about 3 hours of sleep and got up to see if I felt better. Ugh. My tummy still hurt, but I wasn't having to rush to the bathroom every 10 minutes, so I got dressed and left Danny a message that I felt better and decided to start the race.    

Looking back, I realize that it's really really tough to start such a challenging race already feeling like you want to DNF.  You are almost guaranteed to give up at some point. It's hard enough to finish a 100 miler when everything goes your way.  The race began with everyone running straight up the mountain. The first 2 miles have over 2,000 feet of climbing and no one seemed to be holding much back.  My stomach ached even more as I fast hiked up most of the first 2 miles. The next 2 miles have 1,500 feet of climbing, still steep but much more reasonable to my sick stomach.  Pretty much by the time I was at Aid Station #1, mile 4.5, I knew I was done. I had trouble running the flats and downhills as the race snaked along a ridge and down toward Long's Lake.  I figured I'd get to Danny who was pacing me at Fish Creek Trail head (only spot the "hares" can be paced from), run to Olympian with him and then make a final decision whether to keep going or drop.

Drop it was. I didn't have the strength I needed to run the other 80 miles. Sure, I could probably do it, but for what consequences?  On an already tired and sick body, finishing this race could put me out of commission for weeks, months perhaps.  And this race wasn't worth a finish for that sacrifice.  I dropped at mile 21, relieved and a little sad that I wasn't going to finish what I began. 
Manitou Incline
It's pretty steep
Some damage to the incline
For the rest of the week, I visited the must see (and feel!!) Strawberry Hot Springs, outside of Steamboat and made my way down to Manitou Springs to hike the Incline, all the time trying not to hate myself for my weaknesses.  Now, sitting at a computer writing in Roslyn, Washington, just having finished directing my most difficult race for the year, it's rest time for my body and mind.
Course marking 15 mile section, took 7hrs even with me running a lot of the trail between putting up signs.
One of my favorite views on the Cle Elum 50k course!

1 comment:

  1. I was going to ask about RRR on Saturday... Glad you're recovered, though, and thanks for putting on a great race.

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