Monday, October 20, 2008

Lost: A Palo Duro Race Report

This is not a race report that I am all that inclined to do but I have to get it out of my head and move on to something new. This weekend was the Palo Duro Canyon Trail Runs and they had a 20K, 50K and 50-mile. Of course I was registered for the 50-mile being as it was the first race in the 50-mile Texas Style Grand Slam. I will not be doing the slam because I did not finish the race. That's right, I was pulled at mile 38 for missing the cutoff I needed to make in order to head out for the fourth loop.

I felt pretty good about my decision to DNF at Arkansas but this was hard, this is still hard. I guess I don't mind saying that I feel weak, angry, embarrassed and generally like a giant fat looser.

I suppose there are some valid excuses I could make but that's just it, they feel like excuses. The simple fact is that I did not perform to my own expectations. I don't want to give the impression that I didn't try because I did. The problem was that my knee gave up on me just like it did at the AT 100.

The 50 mile course consists of 4 12.5 mile loops. I covered the first loop in 2:24, which was six minutes ahead of pace seeing as how I was going for a sub-10 hour finish. After running that first loop I knew that I would not be running a sub-10, the course was just too difficult. My second loop I had designated as my photography loop. I grabbed my camera to head back out and shoot the canyon, which also helped me slow my pace to something that was more appropriate. Probably somewhere around mile four of the second loop I took a pretty nasty spill falling downhill rolling head over heals to the base of a little draw. I ended up covered in mud but no apparent bumps, bruises or abrasions. I got back up and ran on finishing the second loop in 2:47.

I felt that second lap was too slow as my total race time was now at 5:11 for 25 miles but I figured that the fall and the picture taking had slowed me more than I had planned and since I still felt very good I was confident that I would be able to pick up the pace during the next loop. So, finishing my second loop I jogged over to my drop bag to drop off my camera and re-load some nutrition.

As I turned from my drop bag to head back onto the trail I felt a sharp pain on the outside of my right knee exactly as I had at the AT 100. This is the first peep it had made all day. When I got back on the trail I discovered that not only could I not run downhill but I could barely walk down hill. I also couldn't pivot off my right leg and could not run around any left turning bend in the trail. I was also unable to run uphills that were very steep because it hurt to try and leverage my body weight upward using my right leg. In other words I was basically limited to running straight ahead on flat, even trail with either no grade change or extremely mild grade change.

It just so happens that flat, straight, unchanging trail makes up maybe 10% of the Palo Duro trail. Most of the trail twists and turns and rolls up and down frequently and more often than not, steeply. My 3rd lap took 4:13. That's right, four hours and thirteen minutes to cover 12.5 miles of trail. Not only did it take 4:13 but I was getting progressively slower the further into the loop I got. When I got to the finish line where I would have normally headed out onto my 4th lap I was pulled from the race. That was hard. I knew it was perfectly reasonable. I had know for maybe four miles that I would most likely get pulled and even if I didn't get pulled in the finish area then I would most certainly get pulled at some other check point out on the 4th lap.

I guess I was hoping to at least get credit for the 50K since I had run 38 miles but I didn't and I felt like a whiner for even feeling resentment that I did not get credit. You see, in ultra running some races give runners credit for completing shorter distances that have been covered if the shorter race is also being run at the same time. In some races, like Palo Duro, you only get credit for covering the distance that you intend to cover regardless of what else is going on that day. It also bothered me that I saw four people cut the course, three not by much but one guy cut it by as much as 4 miles if he did what I saw him do on each lap. To make matters worse, the guy who cut the course so severely was one of the last people to make the 3rd lap cutoff and I saw him running along the trail as I was driving away.

Well, it looks like my 2009 season has pretty much been freed up. I am scheduled for the Bandera 100K and the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile but at this point I’m not sure what I’ll be doing. The GeekGrl and a number of other Outlaws will be at Bandera doing races between 100K and 25K and the GeekGrl will also be making her first attempt at 50 miles at Rocky Raccoon so I’m sure I’ll be along for some distance at both those events. I am also registered for the Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon in late June but other than that I no longer have plans and am feeling a bit lost.

I still have Ironman Arizona to run in November and am still feeling pretty good about that but this season has been a wild ride. My seasons have been getting progressively harder over the past three years and I think I may need to regroup a bit next year, maybe limit myself to a race or two at most per month. Maybe I’ll even try and speed up some rather than go farther…who knows.


  1. Great report. I am sorry that it did not turn out the way you had wanted and I can understand that you are disappointed, but it is one race in an AMAZING season.

    Take care of that knee and be nice to you!

    I know I speak for MANY, when I say that I think you are ANYTHING but a "big,fat loser".

  2. Anonymous10:11 PM

    I'm with rbr - you are definitley NOT a big fat loser! What you have accomplished in the short time I have been reading your blog is amazing. It does suck to not finish, for any reason, but you are still a great role model for others to go out there and give it a go.

    Take care of yourself and be really really proud of what you've achieved!

  3. You're hardly a loser for not being able to compete at your proper level due to a knee issue. Get it fixed and get back on track. You're a winner--it's just the stupid knee that's not on board.

    Good job for doing as much as you did under the circumstances!

  4. Great race report as always - always good to read about your experiences especially at those longer distances. I'm sure you'll come back strong from this.

  5. You did a ton of things this season that were amazing! You completed a mind
    boggling # of ultra runs & marathons! This season for you could only be
    considered a complete success! I hope you can look back on your season, I'm sure
    you'll see if your honest with yourself that this did some amazing things. Much
    more than even the most hard core could of hoped for.

  6. Brian-you are so hard on yourself. For goodness sake, your body was just saying "not this time" Does NOT make you a loser! These are tough races, if the Colorado Relay is any indication of what these trail run races are about..
    I am selfishly wanting you guys to be healthy enough to do triathlons so rest up and remember IMAZ is flat!

  7. Hey spelled loser only has one O. That's probably because you're not're just a guy who had a bad day.

    Think about all the good days...and firsts this season..

    If every race was good...NONE of them would be good. Get ready for a kick ass IM AZ!


  8. Feeling angry I get. But "weak" and "big fat loser" are words I would never even consider using use to describe you!

    Look after the knee! I wish I could ring my IMAZ cowbell for you again in November, but it'll be virtually ringing loud and clear.

  9. Sorry to hear about what happened. I know it stings, beacuse I think above all else you wanted to complete the race series.

    You had a epic year, by any ultra or TRi standard..

    Like falling on the trails, we ultra runners get back up and keep on going.

    Just take a look at that 100 mile buckle again to remind you what you accomplished.

    Take care of your knee. I'm sure you will do great at IMAZ..

  10. Bummer about the knee. Could well be that it's just a little sore. Give it some rest, and I'm sure it will come around.

    Thanks for putting me on to this race. The 50 K was plenty tough, but I really had a great time.

    Good luck at IMAZ!


  11. Big fat loser? I'm sorry?
    What everyone else said

  12. Brian, Get get the knee fixed and you'll be back at it in no time! Dude, you have done more this season than most people do in several years! Lighten up on yourself, you have done some amazing things. Just recover (maybe I should put a link to that word) and you'll be as good as new.

  13. Oh, Sorry to hear about getting pulled, that sucks, no doubt about it.

  14. bummer about the knee. I've been having knee issues this year too so I know how frustrating that is.

    But you certainly can't call yourself a big fat loser.

  15. Brian,
    You have had an excellent season. You have accomplished more in a year than most runners get to in a life time. After AZ you need to get some rest and look forward to next season. We all need an off season to lick our wounds only to come back stronger for our next challenge. Our big bodies take more punishment than most people in our sports, so we need to take care and heal so we can power on. Good Luck in AZ I will be at Silverman a couple weeks earlier for my first full.

  16. Brian - Like everyone else already said, "big fat loser" and you don't go together. You've done some amazing things this year that you should be very proud of yourself. Stay positive, tear it up at IMAZ and get some rest to come back even stronger next year.

  17. Who would ever think that your easy races would be an Ironman.

    It sounds to me, not that you asked, just a little recovery is in order.

  18. Sorry to hear about the knee and about getting pulled.

    Stick tough (mentally). Maybe it's time for a little R and R.

    When was the last time you had a good dinner and a glass of wine?

    Take a weekend off and get a massage or read a book.

    You've earned a little rest (even if only for one or two days)

  19. I forgot to add before that I personally think it is bullsh*t that they didn't give you credit for the 50K after you ran 38 miles. Total bullsh*t!

  20. Hmm, the asterisk didn't help as much as one would have hoped. Sorry about that!