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.