Monday, April 6, 2009

Rockin' K Round II: TKO!

Well, my second attempt at the Rockin' K 50 Mile Trail run was nothing like my first. (See
2008 Report:

Saturday's run at Kanopolis State Park was a crazy Kansas April day! According to co-race director, Stacy Sheridan, course record crowds showed up to start line for the 50 mile and marathon course, which started at 7 am. The temperature was in the low 40s at the start but with sustained south winds of at least 30 mph and wind gusts of up to 50. I was one of the only a few people I saw who braved the chilly early morning winds, leaving the start line in a t-shirt and shorts, but after only 10 minutes I knew I had dressed just right.

The 50 mile course consists of two loops over the same trail, the first of about 26 miles and the second about 24 (with one small shortcut). I ran the first 20 miles of the first loop feeling fine, running hard and having lots of fun. I ran most of it with fellow ultrarunners Terry, Dennis (same trio as the 50 miler in mid-March) and also Teresa (who I asked a lot of questions of because she finished Leadville successfully in '08). My feet got wet early and stayed wet at the multiple water and creek crossings (I did not waste time or energy going upstream to a beaver dam, like Gary!). The wind was pretty intense and it got pretty warm by noon, probably in the low to mid 60s. Somewhere around mile 20 - 24, my pace and drive and enthusiasm started to wane. My heart was pounding in my chest, I felt like I couldn't quite catch my breath, I had the slightest headache, and my stomach was upset. During those last couple miles as I was coming into the marathon finish line, I was telling myself that I should probably just stop there and take a nap and recover. I came into the shaded shelter where the finish line is and sat down and even laid down on a picnic table for a few minutes. None of the food or drinks looked any good because my stomach was upset and I couldn't decide whether or not I wanted to continue. I was leaning about 75% - 25% to just calling it quits. My marathon time was about 5 hours and 45 minutes, which I think is a decent effort on this course.

Then all of a sudden the people I was running with, who may have been thinking the same thing as I about not wanting to go back out into that brutal wind for another loop, just got up and said, "okay, let's go"! So, not being one of the brighter things I've ever decided to do, I filled my water bottle and off I went, giving in to the positive peer pressure, but deciding for myself that I really wanted to finish, of course. For the next six miles, the symptoms I mentioned earlier didn't worsen, so I thought they would eventually go away and I'd be fine. I kept reciting "It Never Always Gets Worse". Every time in the past when I've felt that awful, it was just a phase and went away. I learned that the phrase is, indeed, true: It Never Always Gets Worse. But sometimes it does!

After about 7 miles into the second loop, all of my symptoms of what I started to realize was dehydration, began to worsen. My pulse was beating rapidly and I couldn't catch my breath at all, and I also couldn't consume the water because it made the nausea more intense. By this time, the sun was out and the winds had gotten even stronger, I'm guessing, trying not to over-exaggerate, sustained winds of at least 40 mph and gusts of 50-60 mph. At that point where I mentally checked out and I knew I was toast and couldn't possibly finish the whole thing, I figured that I could take a short cut and get to the aid station in just a couple miles ahead to get a ride back to the start line. But I had mis-judged where I was and how far it was away, and reduced to a walk, and with an empty water bottle, I went on for what felt like a couple more hours until I got to the aid station and got a ride back. I ended up only covering 35 1/2 miles (including the distance I cut the course to get back to the manned aid station). After an hour of sitting in front of the fire place in the shelter and letting everything in my body settle down and reach something close to equilibrium, I ate 2 bowls of chili, ate a dozen cookies, drank 4 ice cold 7UPs and then went back to the RV to sleep for a hour and a half. About the time I was waking up, my friends came rolling in with an excellent, strong 50 mile finish! Incredible accomplishment for them on such a day! It was kind of discouraging and disappointing to have my second DNF to my name, but as all of the vets say, it happens to everybody. Now I really can't wait until the next race in a couple weeks to get back out there and run to a successful finish. Next year, without any hesitation, I will be running the 50 miles again and hope to have a much better finish!

2009 Pictures (round 1 of them) thanks to friend and fellow ultrarunner Gary Henry who had the wisdom and humility to just plan to run a great marathon and then go home, but in his race report actually says that he should've planned to keep going to do the 50 miles and for sure will next year and for now on! He writes awesome race reports so this one is definitely worth the read: