Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Beast: 3, Me: 0

That's it.  The Winter Beast of Burden Ultra is just brutal.  It seems like it should be a very doable 100 miler, yet there are some very weird factors which make it deceptively hard ... harder than any 100 miler I have finished or started/DNF'd in (and there are quite a few of those!).  I have always said that the BoB is 99.5% mental.  And now I believe that more than ever.

I have attended every Winter Beast since its inception in 2010, but the first year they had a 24-hour event, which I wisely entered, so there was really no DNF there.  And I had never run a 24-hour event before, so all I expected was to run what I could.  And I did.  And I had fun.  Since then I have, for some silly reason, decided that I should tackle the 100 miler.  2011:  ran Hartshorne Mile 1 week before the race and during the race while trying to do some speed-hiking, I pulled a groin muscle and dropped at 50 miles (I am certain the problem started with running the mile).  2012:  went into the race already injured with wicked plantar fasciitis, but started to feel some healing in progress, so I decided to just see what I could do.  What I did was a very painful 37.5 miles.  2013:  completely healed, trained, finished a 100 miler in September, learned some knew mental tactics, and I felt totally confident that I could do it.  And yet, leading up to race day, I felt excitement to run and have fun, but my heart just didn't feel the "want" or the energy that I had going into Virgil Crest.  But I was certain that things would fall into place once we got to Lockport.

So here is the dirt.  I have found that writing race reports that I can go back to and remember things about races that I somehow forget when I get caught up in the excitement of all of my friends signing up for a race is a necessity.  I will need to look back at this next year and remember why I am not signing up for the BoB 100 again.  It's not that I don't love the race ... well, I don't, actually ... what I love is the people there.  The volunteers.  The friends.  That is why I keep going back.  That is why I plan to volunteer at the next one and offer to pace, if needed.  The items that I will run-down here are what I need to remember as to why I love the event but why I just cannot run it anymore.

  • Last minute house cleaning before leaving for the weekend.  Smashed my left little toe on the TV stand - same toe that I broke after Virgil Crest in September and the toe has been deformed since.  Immediate tooth-grinding pain, swelling, and discoloration.
  • Fun drive to Lockport with Joe and Karen F.  Good music, good eats.
  • Excellent dinner at the usual spot - DeFlippo's.  It's tradition.
  • Race morning ... disappointed to find the sun shining and the temps way too hot for me at 15 degrees.  I dressed warmly but minimally ... or so I thought.
  • About 3 miles into the run the sun was at our faces and what little wind there was was at our backs.  Jacket off.  Wished I could have taken my pants off too.
  • Excellent aid stations with my Orgain that I brought, HEED, pringles, Coke, and the most amazing grilled cheese sandwiches.  This was my main diet throughout the race.  I digested amazingly well.
  • Darn Tough merino wool socks that I had been running in all winter did not work so well when mixed with 5 1/2 hours of snow and sweat.  My feet looked like prunes at mile 25 and a blister was starting to form on the arch of my right foot.  This never happens.  Foot powder and compression socks and a dry pair of Hoka Stinson Evos to the rescue.  Another layer of Desitin to potential chafing areas, more grilled cheese, Coke, Orgain, and HEED and I was ready to head back out.  Thank goodness the sun was going down and the temps were dropping.
  • Music on and running side-by-side with my ultra training partner Karen, we ran in seemingly perfect synergy.  We didn't need to talk.  We just ran a pace that we both have become accustomed to in our training.
  • Got to see the full moon rising out of the horizon ... from nothing more than a sliver on the horizon to rising fully into the sky, the perfectly circular moon shown so brightly that I didn't need my headlight for quite a while.  It was quite awesome.
  • When I had to turn my light I caught sight of glow eyes on the frozen canal.  A cat sat quietly in the middle of the canal as we passed by.
  • Desitin is not the perfect chafing savior that I thought it was.  Or maybe it is and it was my clothing choices early on that were not so perfect.  I think problems started with the fact that I had too many layers on early when it was warmer and the sweating was just too much.  Couldn't wait to get back to Lockport and tend to this.  I was amazingly uncomfortable.
  • The loneliness of The Beast ... and the towpath.  A guy who was running his first 50 miler started to run into some mental and physical issues around 43 miles.  It was funny because you could tell how much trouble he was having because he didn't want to leave us.  He needed company.  We'd slow down, stop for pee breaks, and he would too.  It's so hard to be out on the towpath in the middle of nowhere, alone, and struggling.  When it gets like this you just need to be with someone, anyone.  Even if you don't know them.  I'm glad we were there for him.
  • We got our new friend to his first 50 mile finish (and he said he thought it would be his last!).  I still struggled with the pain of the chafing and just couldn't imagine going back out there.  Reality ... I could try to fix things but if I got even only a few miles back out on the towpath and things went to shit again, I was screwed.  It would be a long way to Middleport and Joe.  Nope.  I was done.  And I was OK with it.
  • Karen was prepping to go back out, but mentally struggling, too, I think.  Our hearts just were not into the run this year.  So after taking three ... yes THREE ... caffeine pills in prep of heading back out for the run, Karen decided to call it a night, too.
  • All was good ... I enjoyed 50 miles of running with a good friend, got to experience the joy of helping another runner to his first finish, ate and digested amazingly well, got to run by the light of the full moon shining off of the snow ... it really couldn't get much better.  And there is no "DNF" at the Beast of Burden.  You don't finish your race?  Then you are just plain "FD" ... fucking done.  I love it.  Once we were FD we drove back out to the Middleport aid station to have some beers with our friends who were manning that station (seriously, the very best part of this race is the volunteers ... it is the only reason we keep going back ... no joke).  We got to Middleport and Jen tried to take down our numbers.  We corrected her and told her we were done.  Jen: "FD?".  Me and Karen:  "yup".  Jen:  "Thank God ... now we can have some fun!"  I love it!  This was the seriously best part of the race ... relaxing and enjoying time with good friends ... with good beer (appropriately, we drank Flying Dog Raging Bitch IPA).  Thanks to Jen, Ginny, Nancey, Beth, and Dani who have been there with us at all 4 Winter Beasts (and all of the Summer Beasts, too).  You guys are the best!  And then there were the countless number of other volunteers who worked so hard to keep us runners going ... thank you!
So, the upshot of this was that my heart just wasn't into the run.  I could have pressed on, it would have been ugly and painful and I would not have enjoyed it.  I enjoyed the time that I was out there.  I had fun with friends.  I drank good beer.  I ran under the full moon.  That is all.