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Home » 100 mile ultra » RR100 Recap Part 2 of 2: What Went Wrong

RR100 Recap Part 2 of 2: What Went Wrong

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.

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30 Comments

  1. I think there was definitely a mental aspect to how you performed. If you went into it thinking, “I’m not going to finish”, then odds are, you weren’t ever going to. The brain is such a powerful thing. You can think of all the “what if’s”, but that is not going to change anything now.

    You still did an amazing thing, running 63 miles. Much more than a lot of other people could do! And maybe you can come back again next year for redemption. Show that race who is boss!

    • Yes, there was definitely a mental aspect to it, especially with how I was feeling the night before the race. I knew I wasn’t in great mental shape going into the race, and that sucked. I’m hoping by the end of this week, I’ll be able to put this behind me (as much as possible), take the lessons learned, and move on.

      Not sure I’ll tackle it again next year. I believe I’ll take it on again, but not sure when. Maybe next year. Maybe 10 years. But I do have a bone to pick with the race. And myself.

  2. Ali says:

    Argh. My heart aches for you! It may take time to put it in the past, but time will help. I think so, at least! I’m still trying to get over my DNF last May, but it’s gotten better as time goes on. You’re going to ROCK your next race, though. I know it.

  3. Gina says:

    Aw man. I feel ya. 63 miles is still pretty incredible, and like you said – great lesson learned. (I have definitely been motivated to train better after underperforming at races I didn’t train enough for.)

    You still da man.

  4. Laura says:

    So my experience with ultra’s is limited, but I know that when I decided in my 12-hour race that I was done at mile 36, that was it. Ultra-distances take so much mental strength that just thinking I’m done was it for me. I literally couldn’t make myself move any more. That being said, I think you are being too hard on yourself. What you accomplished is still great. I don’t think ultra runners compare themselves to the other 99%, but you still did something great that most never even think about doing. Take this as a lesson, don’t repeat next time, and it won’t be a wasted race.

    Easier said then done, of course!

    • It’s hard to compare yourself to the other 99%, especially when surrounded by hundreds of other crazy people attempting (and many succeeding) to run 100 miles. I often feel like it’s a small community of people, but then I go to a race like that and realize that there are plenty of other people out there running insane distances.

      Lesson learned though – I need to train!

  5. SoWhatIRun says:

    This really hits home with me. I’m training for my very first ultra, it’s only a 50K, but I haven’t stuck to my training schedule. I’m getting my long runs in, but I’m doing a lot more cross-training than running. The HAT run is about a month away and reading your posts about your race is telling me that I need to stick to the training program. Good stuff!

  6. piratebobcat says:

    Sounds like a good lesson learned, I’m sure in the future you will take a different approach. Regroup, refocus!!!

  7. I reckon the only ‘bad’ DNF is the one you don’t learn from. Good on you brother, 100k is exactly 78.9 longer than I have run in a race.

  8. I second Steven. It sounds like you were honest with yourself and learned from this race. File it away as just that. A learning experience. Use it as fuel for your next big challenge. Rest up – then get back out there!

  9. I realize I don’t know you. And, I’ve never run an ultra. With that said, I’m incredibly proud of you. For what you’ve done and for what you’ve learned and owned up to. It’s incredible and I’ve no doubt you’ll put it all to good use in the future. Well done, friend.

  10. sushismith says:

    It’s great that you were able to take ownership of this to yourself and your readers. Making it to mile 63 on minimal training does indicate how much potential you have to do so much better in the future. It is always a good idea to remember that running commands respect! I usually have my worst runs when I think “I’ll just go out for a quick 8 miler,” etc. No matter what the distance, it’s probably always better to remember that running can also be as cruel as it is giving and kind.

    Again, you are inspiring! The great thing about painful mistakes is that we rarely repeat them. Also, I thought for sure the Taco Bell might have been what did you in 🙂

    • Yeah, I definitely lacked the respect for this race that it deserved. Lesson learned.

      I’m sure I’m in the minority, but Taco Bell has always sat well with me. I do eat there semi-regularly, and maybe that’s part of it. It’s just so easy to eat vegan there.

  11. Joey says:

    This will be a stepping stone and probably your biggest life lesson. If you went out there and had the best race ever with no errors, you would have nothing to learn from it. Success comes out of experiences like this. Learn from this and keep moving forward. Better races are yet to come!

  12. Brittany says:

    I agree with Joey and the other comments above! Not an easy experience but hopefully something to use in the future. I’m sure you will bounce back re-focused. I can’t fathom running 63 miles in the first place, so to me that’s still really amazing!

    • And I can’t fathom swimming 2.4 miles!
      At least now I’ve learned (hopefully) to check my pride at the door and put the work in ahead of time. Not sure when I’ll tackle another ultra, but I’ve got a couple of sprint tris on the books for this year. I definitely need to put the work into swimming. It’s easy to drop from a run. Not so easy to drop mid-way through a swim!

  13. I think the rule is that there are no “bad” races so long as you learn something. I’m confident (and agree with the others) that this DNF is ingrained into you in a very positive way and that you are walking away stronger.

  14. rainorshinerunner says:

    Be kind to yourself. Anything else I want to say has already been said by all these other wonderful people.

  15. Gina says:

    My dad’s coach did this event, too! Thought you might find his race report interesting: http://www.aimpcoaching.com/?p=1163

  16. tlsylvan says:

    I hate this for you, but you still ran an incredible race and were smart to stop instead of pushing your body too hard. There will be other 100s, and now you know what exactly you need to do to train for it. And by writing it all out, as hard as it must have been, you’re helping other runners (like me!).

  17. Thanks for writing this. You obviously have natural talent but that doesn’t mean you should be hard on yourself for not doing a lot of training. (in my humble opinion!)
    For our second marathon Kelly barely trained and only did one long run. It hurt him…bad (we ran it together, and at one point he lied in the middle of the road in Vancouver!). It was good in a humbling way in that he hasn’t entered into any races since then without giving them more preparation.

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