Sunday, March 23, 2014

Buffalo Run 100 Race Report - by Craig

I'm walking down a hill at mile 59, a hill I normally run tired in the 6s. I'm walking and shaking and shivering because if I try and run I know I'm going to fall over and likely not get back up. On a course that has loops and short out-and-backs and passes by the start/finish at least 4 times I am, by far, in the most remote and difficult place to get out of. It is also freezing. Well, at least I think it's freezing. Maybe that is because only a half mile ago I was bent over dry heaving my guts out only 20 feet from the Split Rock aid station. I can either curl up into a ball and wait for someone to come save me or keep walking. I choose to keep walking because I know I have the longest climb ahead of me and maybe it will warm me up. All I know for sure is that my race is over.

My race didn't start that way. The first 50 miles were pretty much a breeze. Other than a short stint of dehydration and some leg cramping it went just as planned. I came into 50 at the start/finish feeling good and ready to run fast on the back half. The next 8 miles got progressively worse. My stomach started to turn and I was finding myself unable to put down any gels or electrolyte bites. But I was still in a good mood. Even after my dry heaving session I yelled "puke and rally" and walked into the aid station and ate some food. And then that downhill where everything went "downhill".

Mile 9. Photo by Cory Reese 

I walked 98% of that 5 mile loop back to the aid station. I had decided that if I couldn't run the 5.8 miles back to the start/finish I would DNF. I didn't come out here to walk my way to 100 miles and this race didn't mean enough for me to gut it out. I knew I had to eat and feel ok about it before leaving or I would be resolved to walking again. Then Jennilyn showed up. She put her arm around me, comforted me . . . . for about 11 seconds, then made me eat some plain white bread and leave with her and her pacer. And we started running. And that felt pretty ok. On a long stretch of cruiser downhill we even set a pretty good pace. Well, until I had to step off and start dry heaving again. For no reason at all I was unable to stop from wretching. Jennilyn and pacer ran on ahead and I worked to not get too far behind as we all rolled into the start/finish. 30 more miles. Can I do 30 more miles feeling like this?

Being treated like a King. So undeserving.

This blog is built on a single foundation, that we never quit. People had sent me texts of support, were following me on Twitter and Facebook (not that I was posting anything, but others were), and then there is always the support my wife and family lend. I couldn't let them down just because I had an upset tummy. Off I went. Over that long 24 miles of out and back along the Mountain View trail I did whatever I could to run, but the cramping in my legs was severe from deydration and I couldn't put any fuel in my stomach. Over a 4 hour section I probably averaged fewer than 20 calories per hour. Good friend, Mike let me sleep for 20 min at the Lower Frary aid station, which helped me a ton. I was able to wander into the Ranch and sit by a fire, now only 17 miles left.

I can do 17 more miles.

While sitting by the fire a couple of aid station workers were talking about making burritos. All of a sudden a burrito sounded really good. Like really, really damn good. At the same time another friend Ashley showed up, pacing another runner. She gave me a pity hug (I assume any interaction with me during that time was out of pity), some words of encouragement, and was off again. The volunteers made me a cheese and egg burrito and I was amazed that I could finally eat. I left feeling better than any time in the last 8 hours.

I didn't push any more fuel for another 6 miles, but finally decided to force myself to take a gel. I needed energy and there was simply nothing else I could do. This time, no wretching. And I started to feel good. Then another gel and I was running, consistently. The last four miles are on my favorite part of the whole course. Technical rocky trail along the north shore of the Great Salt Lake, I love it. I found myself running fast and was in a good mood to boot. I was back, just in time to finish this thing. I even ran into Jeremy running the opposite direction who joined me for a couple of miles. That was fun. I finished in 22:05:00, not good, not even close to my goal time, but a finish none-the-less.

Finishing in a disappointing 22:05:00

I'll say this. I'm glad I finished. Had I DNFed however, I would not have regretted it. I wasn't injured, but I was in no position to conitue on the way I did. Racing just doesn't mean that much to me and I'm not sure I will gut it out the same way in the future. 

I really just want to thank all of my friends who were there supporting me. At the 50 mile mark - start/finish - I had so many people around me I felt like a celebrity. Thank you to everyone who was there and was so supportive. And thanks to my sponsors, Altra shoes, Ultraspire hydration, Gnarly Nutrition, and VFuel. They make the best products on the market and I am proud to represent them. Thank you so much.


Jennilyn said...

I was at that aid station for 8-9 minutes, not 11 seconds btw (my pacers counted every minute I stopped and prodded me about it!) I knew you were in a bad place and had a feeling if you didn't leave with me you might not leave.

And you're sick of hearing it, but I'm glad you finished. Way to grind it out, finish it. Those of us with other dreams who used running on the island as a training race all asked ourselves, at some point, why am I doing this and is it worth it? ...For me the value wasn't where I thought it would be. I find a lot of value in your finish. Moreso than if you had run a 17:00. So thank you.

Emir said...

It was all that goofing around and jumping at mile 9 that upset your stomach. Just kidding. Way to stick it out. Did you change your shoes during the race?

Renee said...

I'm totally impressed! And you looked so fresh after, walking around with a smile on your face!

Toby said...

Way to gut it out Craig! I love the motto of this blog, "Refuse to Quit". Being the newbie runner that I am, I'm still learning the skill of mental toughness. You guys are the ultimate of tough. Thanks for sharing your is inspiring!

Jen said...

I don't think I'll forget how you looked walking toward us as we were coming back from the ranch when you gave Jennilyn a hug. It was the perfect mix of having given in to your dogged perseverance, like your mind had won over the body, no matter the cost. It was probably that moment that gave me the courage to want to try something like that distance before too long. I'm so proud of you, Craig. You inspire, fast day or not-so-fast day.

MVH said...

You looked great when I saw you at the fence line, and again after the Ranch. When I didn't see you again until I had 9 miles to go I knew something was wrong. I hope you go back someday and do what you are capable of doing.

Josh G said...

You don't give yourself enough credit. After seeing the way you struggled - and doing it with a huge smile nonetheless - I have to agree with Jennilyn and Jen; some us of mere mortals gain strength from your determination. You know I'd never question your decision to DNF a race, but I have a profound respect for seeing you work through struggle and prevail on this particular day. Always inspiring my friend!