I went into this race full of confidence. My training has gone well, and based on the first half of the 101K on this trail in the spring, a PR was a sure thing. I had not a worry in the world. I knew that for various reasons it's likely my last year doing this race and I wanted it to be a good one. It never crossed my mind that it wouldn't be. Looking back I think this is the first place things went wrong for me. I failed to take the trail seriously, which is a mistake. I finished the race, but did not meet the time limit. I believe I was 39 seconds over. Yes, seconds.
Normally I go through all the details of my race, but I'm not today. First of all, I just don't want to. I need to move on and not dwell on it, and rehashing the whole day is not going to help me do that. I have discussed getting sick with a couple of people and think I have some good tips for going forward so that stops happening. I'm going to start explaining what happened with two miles left in the race. I had left the person I was running with and was trying to finish as fast as I could, while puking and feeling miserable. Heather and I finished together last year and it was horrible for me to leave here, particularly since she was having a lot of trouble. It really made me feel like a bad person. Anyway, I did go ahead and pull ahead. My watch had died, so I no longer had a running timer. I heard the race had started late, but I didn't know exactly how late, so I was running blind. I looked at my phone and I knew there was no way it was going to happen. Still, just in case I suddenly was blessed with the speed of a cougar, I pushed on. I had to sit a couple of times because I felt like I was going to pass out. I hated to do it, but I know it was the right thing to do.
When I was close to the end I saw Rick Mayo, the photographer. I told him I wasn't going to make it. He told me I still had 10 minutes and to run. I tried. I got to a spot on the course where I could cut the course and knew that would help me with time. I started to turn that way, but I couldn't do it. That is not the person I want to be and isn't honest. I went up and around, as we're supposed to. I got to the road and wanted to run so bad. I was just miserable. I didn't hurt, but I was nauseous and dizzy and just couldn't do it. I got close and saw Rick, Ryan and Adam running out to me. Adam got up next to me and said "You have 3 minutes!" I thought I was already past the cutoff. Rick told me I really had two minutes. I ran as fast as I possibly could. I truly wanted to die right then, I was so sick. Adam said "I'm tired, but if you keep running I'll keep running!" What a little sweetheart. I went around the corner and could see the clock. I was a few seconds over the limit. I kept running and finally crossed the finish line just seconds over the time limit. It was devastating. Just when I thought I couldn't feel any worse, someone came up to me and said "You know you didn't make it, right?" He's right. I didn't make it. That was absolutely not the right thing to do though. There are kinder ways to say that and perhaps maybe 5 minutes later when the world wasn't spinning and I'm trying to hold in my vomit would have been a better time.
I've tried really hard to not make this sound like I'm just bitter and whiny and complaining because I didn't finish the way I wanted to. I could have made a lot of different choices during the race. I felt great after Oak Ridge coming back and could have left Heather behind. She was struggling though and I wasn't going to do that. Please don't think I'm saying this is her fault! It's not. I'm simply explaining one of the choices I made. Heather is one of the reasons I finished last year. She pushed me when I didn't feel like pushing. She's great and I'm so proud of how hard she fought this weekend. Her finish was incredible. She was in extreme pain and she pushed on. I made lots of choices that added up to me not finishing on time. Honestly though, I don't think I'd change any of them. I'm not happy with the result, but if I continue to dwell on it I won't be able to finish my 100. I need to get my head in the right place.
To the people that love me and are always there for me: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your endless support amazes me. I won't name everyone because I would miss people. I do want to say a special thanks to Ken and Dana Childress, who have never doubted me and continue to tell me I can do anything I set my mind to. I will see you guys at Pumpkin Holler!
I do need to make a special shout out to Max Walker. He is always at Aid 1 and does a great job. This year my son Ryan was doing the 25k (more about that in my next post!) and is recovering from a concussion. I asked Max to please look out for Ryan and ask him how he felt. He did, more than once, and made sure Ryan was telling the truth. It was nice to know someone was out there looking out for him. That was way above and beyond what an aid station worker should be asked to do, so I appreciate him doing it. He also taught Ryan how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which is a story for another day :)
I said in the first paragraph that I went in thinking this would be my last FlatRock. I haven't changed my mind. I'm now more firm in that belief. I won't be back. It was fun, but I want to go back to running that trail because I love the trail and want to have fun.
18 days until Pumpkin Holler!