When it's 35 degrees
When you're alone
When you can't walk
And especially when you don't care
|About 45 miles into race. Photo Jill|
I was fiddling around still getting ready when the race started, so I got underway a few minutes after everyone else. I still took it easy and relaxed running down the dark dirt road alone, finally passing slower runners after about 3-4 miles. I felt good through the first 30 miles but then my IT band started acting up. I didn't stress too much about this because I knew it would pass (or just get numb) after a while. It was bad enough to alter my gait and even cause me to walk for a few minutes during miles 30-40. It was getting hot, so I told my crew (Jen and Jill) to stop for me every 5 miles (instead of 6-7). I only had a 20oz bottle and was going through about 40oz per hour during the hotter hours.
|My crew: Jen (red) and Jill (blue). Photo obvious (I'd buy it but I don't buy race photos - it's not 1995 anymore)|
|Earlier and still chilly|
|Later, hot and this is a nice little climb up Dugway Pass (those are my excuses for walking anyway)|
|On the remote Pony Express Trail|
|15 miles in. Photo Jill|
For those thinking of doing the Pony Express 100, I'll be honest about my take on it. Davy Crockett does a superb job. He sets accurate expectations of what to expect. With the mandate of a car-mobile-roving crew for each runner, it can be made into a beginner friendly race (have your crew stop every two miles) or a veteran race (have them stop less frequently). The course doesn't suit me. It's an out and back on a dirt road with cars, most race affiliated and some obnoxious hunters, so there is A LOT of dust to breath in and deal with for most of the run, not to mention the constant zig-zagging back and forth to each side of the road. The course isn't flat but there also aren't any real hills. The scenery is beautiful and it's so remote that there's not much light pollution, so star gazing is perfect (if you can enjoy such endeavors after running 80 miles). The race answered questions for me: 1. I don't like flat(ter) courses. 2. I can't hop into a 100 miler without some deep urge or desire to do it and finish. 3. I'll never underestimate warmer clothing. I've been "burned" by this mistake three times this year and will opt to carry a bit more with me for night/cold running even if I end up not wearing it. 4. I'll probably not use a crew again in any race. It can save time but I end up worrying about them not enjoying it, getting angry with me, spending too much time chatting with them at stops, having to be polite when I feel like absolute shit, and generally uses up a lot of mental energy for me. I seem to move much faster and am more relaxed when doing these things solo and unsupported. I feel badly that Jen and Jill came all the way out there only to have their runner stop just 8 miles short of the finish. Could I have gone on to finish? Probably, but it would've taken me about 4 hours and I would've had to borrow clothing from the girls because I couldn't have gone on that slowly without it. Fundamentally, I didn't care whether I finished or not. I've done enough this year, seen so much diverse beauty, been through so much suffering and elation, met so many unique and amazing people that this last grape at the buffet didn't matter enough to me to choke it down.
A giant and enduring THANK YOU to Jennifer and Jill. It was a great comfort seeing the van and then their smiling faces (and for the delicious case of good beer they smuggled into this 1930s-minded state for me). Thanks to McDavid for all they've done for me this year. They are the sole reason I was able to complete so many races in such diverse venues both in terms of their compression clothing and logistical support. They are an amazing company both in terms of high quality product and devoted people. I'm humbled and honored to have them consider me a McDavid Athlete.
Here's Jennifer's blog post about her trip to UT and crewing for me.
Here's my comment to her, which explains a little more my feelings about the race.
"Sorry for the delayed comment. First, thanks again for coming out there so far to be there for me. I was a bit relieved when I saw you guys had made it into a nice trip, visiting your sister, exploring, etc. and not just driving 10 hours to watch me run down a dust encased road for 19 hours.
Regarding the end and what you could've done to change the outcome, nothing is the answer. I can push though anything in these races and have done it several times (San Diego, Grand Mesa, Hardrock come to mind). This was a unique situation where I was on the verge of doing serious damage by continuing. I obviously could've dragged myself to the finish but it didn't really matter to me. As tough as this run was (dust, exposure, flatness) it wasn't an "accomplishment". The flatness of the course lead me to disinterest and apathy. There were not mountains, no technical trail, nothing really difficult, just plodding along. After the substantial events I had run throughout the year, very satisfying and humbling, this race offered little to me mentally.
I'm actually glad I stopped and wish I would've done so on the pass at mile 80 instead. It's taken me a week now to recover enough to get out for 30 min jogs. I usually bounce back after the 100s I've done in three days and by the next weekend am ready for a 3 hour run. Continuing on for that last 8 miles and 2-3 hours would've probably injured me pretty badly. So, you guys did everything correctly. I'm not used to crews, so I wasn't really communicative beforehand. It's not some giant production (crewing these things or even running them). It's just a run and you just replace calories and water. Not much more is needed and people waste a lot of energy with all the excess outside of their own run.
Thanks so much again. It was great meeting you and Jill.