Ultramnesia. That is the best word I can use to describe this year's Rocky Raccoon 100 which I finished in 21:08:27
I've been a little beat up the past several months. I came out of Save The Daylight with what turned out to be peroneal tendinitis in my right foot that cost me a full month of training and added 10 lbs, mostly in my midriff. After that I had several sub-par performances, capped off by a flu-ridden DNF after 65 miles at Ancient Oaks. On New Year's Day I pulled something in my lower back, that lingered for weeks. Several X-Rays and a MRI later, the orthopedist told me Wednesday before the race I have a sprained periformis muscle in my hip putting pressure on my sciatic nerve. He gave me a cortisone shot and cleared me to race 72 hours later.
Ken Burnham was my crew again for this race, I think I will go to Rocky Raccoon annually as long as Ken and Nancy remain in Dallas. We had a great FUR crew in town, Friday night's dinner at Oliver Garden including myself, Ken, Andy Mathews, Luis Barrios, Amy Wood (pacer), Danielle Zemola, and Noora Aldina.
Thursday and Friday, my back felt great, the best it had felt since last year. But Saturday morning, as I bent over the sink to brush my teeth, my back spasmed again. We set up a tent, tables and chairs along the finishing chute (Ken's tent served as a convenient home base for the entire group), and I had trouble standing up straight as we did it. Bending over to tie my shoes was a challenge. I took a muscle relaxer and painkillers and was reasonably comfortable when the race started. But it took its toll over the course of the race.
The weather was ideal, 44 degrees at the start. Luis and I ran together. Luis has been in great shape the last several races, and had a good shot at breaking 20 hours. I would run at least the first 20 miles with him to keep him in check. I had visions of a sub-20 hour finish as well, but knew it was a long shot given the recent nagging injuries and remaining weight gain. The first of five 20 mile laps went almost to perfection, we finished in 3:50. Lap 2 followed suit, in 3:54. We were on perfect pace for 20 hours, though I still doubted I could hold on for 3 more laps. Luis pulled ahead of me after that, and stayed ahead until mile 69. I passed him as he had stopped to put on a rain jacked in the evening's light drizzle and assumed he would catch me quickly. But I only saw him briefly at the start/finish at mile 80, and then again after we finished.
The last 40 miles were not much fun. I had already run 20 miles solo, and now was beginning to really feel my back. My left leg didn't feel like it was pushing off with full strength. The tendonitis in my right foot began to act up. I forgot to re-apply lube and developed a nasty case of chaffing in my shorts. In summary, I was miserable. And I kept telling myself that. For the first time, I really began to question why I was out here. What is the point? I've been to some great races, I've completed numerous hundreds, including this one twice before. What the hell was I thinking when I signed up for this again?
Well that was it. I quit. I am done running hundreds for a while. I will still train and go to UTMB this summer, I've worked too hard, too long to get there. I'll still run 50Ks and 50 milers, they don't beat me up too bad. But I am done with this hundred mile crap. There is no point in doing this myself yet again. I'll finish this race, and that will be it for the foreseeable future. I ran as consistently as I could, and labored across the finish line in 21:08:27, good for 52nd place. I was just 7 1/2 hours off of Ian Sharman's winning time, who never looked he was breathing hard any time I saw him.
Luis came in about 20 minutes behind me with a huge PR time for him. Andy Mathews came in just over 23 hours, fighting an ugly cold the whole way. Noora Aldina does what she does every single time, she finished, this time in 26 hours. Even Danielle, who has not been seriously training due to injury, came across in 28 hours. The FURs went 5 for 5 at Rocky Raccoon.
I told Ken about my semi-retirement after the race. We discussed it on the drive back to Dallas, and also with his wife Nancy pre-Super Bowl. Then I woke up Monday morning, rested, and not nearly as sore as I thought I would be. The weather caused my first flight to be cancelled, and I was re-routed through Houston back to Tampa. That gave me a lot of time to sit and think. The pain wasn't that bad was it? At least it doesn't seem like it was, now that I am 24 hours removed from the race. The pain never seems as bad once the race ends. Pushing through the moment is only a temporary inconvenience. Surely that doesn't outweigh the satisfaction of knowing I had again done what nearly everyone outside of the ultra community doesn't think can be done. You can't put a price on the self-confidence that builds. I am a better husband, a better father, a better employee, a better person because running and completing these races are part of my life. I am not giving this up. Not ever, until health forces me to consider otherwise. I'll lace them back up. In fact, I plan to see everyone at Fort Clinch next month.
Ultramnesia. There is no other explanation.