Continuing my recap of my DNF (“did not finish”) at mile 63 of the Rocky Raccoon 100. In case you missed part 1 of my recap, you can find it here. I’ve spent way too long trying to write this recap – in the end, the words will never come out the way I want them, and I’ll never be able to fully convey how I really feel about the race. But here’s my attempt anyway. It’s somewhat disjointed, and I know I’m not conveying much emotion, but I’m tired of trying to write this and just need to call it “done.”
I also wanted to say thank you for all the comments and words of support, before the race, during, and after. I really do appreciate it.
When I tearfully called my wife to let her know I was turning in my timing chip, I already knew where I had gone wrong. As I told her from the trail, as much as I DNF’d the race, what it really comes down to is that I DNF’d my training. I didn’t prepare well for this race at all. I’ve looked for an eloquent way to explain what happened, but really it just boils down to an old proverb: Pride Comes Before The Fall
In some ways, I feel like I’m a humble runner. I don’t really like to talk much about my running accomplishments, and I don’t really talk much about running (outside of the blog world), except to my wife. The only people at my work who knew I was racing this past weekend were a couple of guys that I see regularly in the locker room who asked me if I had any races coming up. Unless someone specifically asks me about running, I just don’t bring it up. On the other hand though, I’ve had a lot of (relative) running success without a whole lot work on my part. And that’s caused me to become arrogant.
My first 100 miler, the Lost Soul Ultra, was on a course significantly more challenging than Rocky Raccoon. Rocky is known for being a great first-timer course, while the Lost Soul is known for being anything but beginner friendly (the course record for the Lost Soul is almost 10 hours longer than the course record for Rocky). It took me almost 34 sleepless hours, but I finished the Lost Soul. There’s no real need for me to go into great details of my training for Rocky compared with my training for the Lost Soul, but I will say that I ran more miles per week going into Rocky, not that it was difficult to average more than 22 miles per week. Most of those miles, however, were junk miles, at least in terms of completing an ultra. I didn’t put enough effort into the training that really matters (long runs), and instead arrogantly thought that my overall weekly volume would be enough (forgetting that my weekly average was still below the normal long run training distance for a 100).
I wasn’t a high school or college athlete. I was an overweight kid growing up. I started running when I was 28 years old as a means to gain control my unhealthy life. I worked hard at my running for the first three years. Since the Lost Soul though, I haven’t really put much effort into any training. Despite that, I’ve still managed to stand on the age group podium at all three of my races last year (2nd at the half-marathon, 1st at the aquathlon, and 3rd at the triathlon). And that has allowed me to become arrogant with my abilities. Since I finished the Lost Soul, I thought that surely I could finish Rocky. I mean what’s the big deal, it’s an “easy” course? Obviously I was way over-estimating myself.
I wish that I could have blamed my DNF on something else. Weather. Blisters. Anything. But in the end, I have no one to blame for my DNF except myself. And that sucks. But it is my own fault. I chose not to train enough. I thought I didn’t need to.
I could drag this post on and on. I’ve already spent WAY too much time writing and deleting and re-writing. But the bottom line as to why I didn’t finish is arrogance. Sure, there are other questions that linger in my mind, especially now that my legs are beginning to feel better. Did I drop too early? If my mental game was better, would I have finished? If my crew/pacer had been able to make it, would that have changed things? What if my wife was there in person? In the end though, I need to realize that I’m lucky to have made it to mile 63, considering I ran one 20 miler as my longest training run for the Rocky Raccoon.
I hope I don’t forget this humbling lesson anytime soon.