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Wild Duluth 100k – Recap October 29, 2010

Posted by whereschrisscotch in Races/Events - Recaps.
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Wild Duluth turned out to be fantastic time, just not in the manner I expected.  The first hour or so was in the dark and mostly technical uphill climbing, both favorite conditions of mine.  I felt great and started out at a quick pace.  For the next 17 or so miles I felt amazing and was leading the race.  Then I hit the wall, or more appropriately, the wall completely crushed me with a flying elbow off the top rope.

Instantly and simultaneously my body and mind both had catastrophic failures and I found it hard to keep a consistent  pace.  I struggled the next three miles, up and down Ely’s peak and into the Munger Trail aid station at Mile 20, where Cooper and Val were stationed.  (Side note: I couldn’t help but laugh at the quick conversation Dusty Olson and I had as we passed each other.  I was coming down Ely’s and he was going up.  He is always good for an interesting and humorous encounter.  Somehow we managed to compare recovering from Lyme’s disease with recovering from Sawtooth 100 in just a few seconds).

I rested about 15 minutes at Munger as I ate and changed my socks.  Hoping either or both would provide some comfort, physically or mentally.  It didn’t work.  The next five miles seemed to take forever as I oscillated between walking and shuffling, all the while having an internal struggle with what to do when I reached the Grand Portage aid station.   I was in pain, which I tried to rationalize away.  I have had pain in all the other ultra’s, so why couldn’t I push through it this time?  It was a perfect day for running on a beautiful trail with great friends all around.  I just couldn’t seem to muster the mental fortitude, guts or desire to push through.  My body no longer wanted to run, nor did my mind.  I was feeling defeated.    At some point I asked myself how I could best enjoy the rest of the day, and decided that I would get more satisfaction cheering on the other runners rather than be miserable the rest of the day and try to finish the race.  It didn’t seem worth it to me to forgo the chance to be happy cheering for my friends in exchange for being able to say I finished.  I wouldn’t have experienced satisfaction in finishing, as I had already failed in my mind, having reached the point where I couldn’t even run anymore.  My body hurt in ways and places I hadn’t felt before and while the prospect of dropping from the race saddened me,  I didn’t want to cause long term injury.  I knew before I entered the Grand Portage aid station at mile 25 that I would drop from the race, and that is what I did.

I am still replaying the day in my mind, sometimes with mixed emotions.  This was the only race I have ever DNF’d.  And while I failed to complete the race, the lessons learned were ones I needed to experience, if only to know what it feels like to fail,  as to try and prevent it from happening again.  Physically, I don’t know if my body was ready for this course or race.  I hadn’t run on the trail for a month, since Sawtooth 100, foregoing trails for pavement as I trained for Twin Cities Marathon.  I won’t make this mistake again.  I don’t necessarily believe I needed more rest or more training before this race, but I need to learn to learn the balance between the two  as  I plan to keep running ultra’s.  I probably wasn’t mentally prepared for Wild Duluth like I have been for my other races.  Due to a busy work week, or some sort of arrogance towards the course, or whatever it was – I hadn’t prepared myself for the inevitable – that there are going to be really tough stretches for every runner in every ultra.  It could be argued that I started too fast – leading the pack is probably not the right place for me to be in any race.  Something to remember in future races.  The flip side of that coin intrigues me a bit, however.  If I don’t know where the line between pushing myself to the  edge and pushing myself over the edge exists,  I won’t know what it really feels like to feel true success.  Failing provides better understanding where that  line resides.

So I dropped out of the race and focused my energy on cheering the other runners.  I also ran a few errands for Kim and Andy.  It was so much fun to be able to see the race from the other side as friends I have made the past few months dedicated themselves to the race and conquered the trail.  My satisfaction and fulfillment on this day came from their successes.  Thank you.

Chris

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