Welp, my training was short, but intense.
I did 3 105-mile weeks, followed by 2 140-mile weeks. I did 10 milers Monday and Tuesday of race week, then 3 full days off. I consumed about 4,000 calories a day those 3 days with about 80 percent coming from carbohydrates.
I showed up on race morning primed and strangely confident. I decided to not deal with any drop bags and basically run with my hydration pack stuffed with all my clothes and a bunch of food. I’m guessing it weighed about 20 pounds with the hydration bladder full.
The first 20 miles were kind of a mess. First of all, I must have peed 25 to 30 times! This is no joke. I also spent the early part of the race fiddling with my hydration pack waaaaay too much. Still, I settled in nicely behind a woman who I believe ended up being the second place female in the 55K. I would pull up just behind her, then pull off to pee, then work to catch-up with her, then pull off to pee again.
I took some time at the 55K finish/second major aid station. Pulled off two extra layers and was now just running in a tech shirt. I can honestly say that I felt better from miles 30 to about mile 60, then I did mile 1 to mile 30. Because I stopped peeing so much, I finally got into a nice rhythm. I also had a nasty fall at about mile 35, in a section with tons of loose gravel. At the mile 45 aid station I was in 8th place and felt I was gonna reel a few people in.
By mile 55, I believe I was 6th place and still felt really strong. The course changed a lot here. We had spent a lot of time in the early part of the race on Jeep roads, from here on out, about 95% of the course would be on the Arizona Trail exclusively. Navigating the trail was critical.
That’s why it was unfortunate that my headlamp started to die 30 minutes after the mile 55 aid station. Luckily, a worker at the next aid station (62ish) was happy to lend me hers. Got to the mile 67 aid station and still felt remarkably good, also picked off another runner. As far as I could tell, I was in 5th place in the 100 mile race. Within 20 minutes of leaving the 67 aid station I passed another runner. I was in 4th place.
At about mile 70, I stopped to pee for the 114th time. I was on a short section of Jeep road. (On these roads, I’m constantly going back and forth between the two “gutters” because one is generally smoother than the other.) I made the decision to switch gutters, kinda clipped my toe on the mound in between the gutters and landed awkwardly between to big rocks and heard a “pop!” through my headphones. Pain shot through my leg, but kinda dissipated as I keeped running. I didn’t know what to think. Was it a “pop!” or was it just crunched bones. I had run through a broken bone in my foot before and while it certainly wouldn’t be ideal, I could deal with it. Unfortunately in about 30 to 45 minutes it became clear it was probably a tendon. As the adrenaline wore off, I got a sharp pain every time I landed on my right foot.
I continued to run. Trying to figure out a way to position my foot in a way to not hit the sore spot. I could never really make it work. I tried to stay positive, but the pain was too intense. By the time I got to about 2 miles out from the mile 80 aid station, I was basically just hobbling in pain and got passed by 4 100-milers.
I decided that I would stay at Hull Cabin for 30 minutes. My sub-20 hours was out of the question at this point, which was a real drag. By my calculations I made it through 50 miles in 9:15 and 70 miles in 13:30. I hit Hull Cabin (80 miles) in about 16:30 hours. It had taken me 3 hours to do 10 miles.
I actually laid down for 30 minutes, then forced myself to get up. Had to go pee again, so I hit the bathroom that was about 60 yards from the main cabin. Every step to the bathroom was dagger in my right foot. Excruciatingly painful.
I was done. My first DNF in 11 ultras.
Come to find out after the race, that pretty much everybody struggled in the race and if I could have just walked the last 20 miles at a 20-minute mile pace, I would have finished 3rd.
Got my foot looked at and my GP says he is 95% sure it’s a torn tendon or two or three. An X-Ray also revealed some bone fragments, but I’m pretty sure those aren’t new. I’m supposed to go to a specialist next week and get an MRI because my doctor says there’s a chance it’s a damaged fascia.
Instead of doing that, I’ll be training next week for the Javelina Jundred. Went out this morning for a 10-miler and although my right foot was sore, it wasn’t anything I can’t train on.
Yes, this is probably yet another stupid decision on my part. Popular wisdom is that it’s very important to let tendons heal properly.
But this DNF eats at me every day. Just gnaws at my innards like a hungry Grizzly and the sooner I can get rid of it, the sooner I’ll be able to live with myself.
I’m an idiot.