Monday, October 12, 2015

Run For the Toad 50K: DNF

Well, the subject line pretty well sums it up.  Mind you, it wasn't much of a surprise.  50 miles at Haliburton left me quite battered.  In retrospect, I would guess that running for 12.5 hours will do that to you.  Two weeks after Hali, my legs were not recovered and it was all I could do to complete 24K.  I had hoped for a fast recovery during the final week before the Toad, which was 3 weeks after Hali. but at 15K into the race, I knew I was in for a long day.

The Toad is such a well executed race, with attention to all those little details that make it special, such as flowers on the tables, a luncheon for Friday volunteers and a heated race venue (the biggest tent I've ever seen!).  This year's swag was a running pack, which garnered a lot of positive attention.  Although I give out T-shirts at my race, it is great to receive something other than another T-shirt.  George and Peggy Sarson and their army of volunteers deserve all the accolades for this race!

A 50K trail race deserves some respect.  It is not the same as a road 10K.  It is more effort than five 10K road races, so heading into the Toad with only 3 weeks recovery from a technical 50 mile race is not overly wise.  Well aware that I was pushing my limits, I started at a slow and comfortable pace.  My hope was to get in 3 loops (37.5K) before the bottom fell out.  Again,  my upper hamstrings were tight from the onset.  Not a good sign!  With the hope that the hamstrings would eventually start behaving, I maintained a steady pace and finished the first 12.5K loop in about 1:20.  Similar to the 24K training run a week before, by the start of the second loop, I was tired.  At 15K, I was already struggling to maintain a running pace.  From there, hopes for a successful 50K race dwindled until I was facing the realization that the last 25K would be a nasty exercise in pushing dead legs.  By 20K I was having trouble walking up the hills.  The hamstrings were now painful and so tight that they were not working properly, even at a walking pace.  30K of this?  Why?

When your legs inform you that they are not ready to push for 50K, you need to listen.  Although the Toad was my seventh ultra this year; perhaps because it was my seventh ultra, I decided that incurring an injury by continuing past 25K made no sense.  At 25K, I stopped.  My first DNF in a few years (I think since 2012).  I was disappointed, but also felt it was a wise decision.  The atmosphere at the Toad is wonderful, I chatted with many friends, both runners and volunteers, but I had no great desire to obtain a finishing medal at the cost of an injury.  My best time at the Toad is 4:48, so beating my PB was never a consideration.

Strangely, a few minutes later, Lee Anne walked up to me and declared that she had also DNF'd.  She had not recovered from her Canadian record (female 60 - 64) 100 mile performance from 4 weeks back.  Although it made sense, I was still surprised.  50K for Lee Anne is normally the warm-up; a distance she usually runs every Friday.  Of course Lee Anne does not run trails and had fallen twice in the first 15K.  Perhaps she had the same mental dialogue as I, that incurring an injury was not worth a finishing medal.

And so, hopefully my seventh and final ultra will be at Horror Trail (formally Horror Hill) on Saturday October 31.  I am running the 6 hour race, so I should squeeze out 42.3K...