2016 Run Woodstock 100 DNF Recap
A couple of weekends back I traveled to Hell, MI to set out on a hundred mile race in hope to PR my previous two finishes at Run Woodstock Hallucination 100. Leading up to race day I was truly positive that my year of TransRockies Run training would help me reach a new goal. But as tradition proves with Mother Nature and any 100 miler I register for, the mid-west Michigan weather was once again humid. Let’s jump to the chase and see how it all unfolded….spoiler alert, it wasn’t pretty.
If you’re not familiar with this race it’s a 6 lap course with a lap averaging around 16.7 miles. The aid stations are roughly 4 miles apart. This year I decided to run light and go with just my 20oz UD handheld. The plan was to take in homemade UCAN gel packs that I made ahead of time. One gel pack half way through each loop and when I completed each lap. After the traditional Woodstock style of the National Anthem myself and a few other fellow running mates headed to the starting-chute. As we lined up (just before 4pm) it was muggy out and I was hoping that once we rolled into the covered trails the humidity will be lesser. 4pm clicks by and away we go. Right out of the gate I wanted to get with the lead pack so I wasn’t squeezed once we hit the trails. After our short run around the RV park we ducked onto the trails. My hopes of cooler/less humid trails where not gonna happen. As we clicked off miles and settled into a good pace I found myself running with a friend from Midland and we had a great conversation about Garmin watches plus life in general. Well my conservative pace kept me with the lead 100 milers plus the lead 100kers for a while. As we passed on by the last checkpoint of the lap (roughly 13 miles in) I felt great. Didn’t feel winded or dehydrated but was sweating like crazy. I let the lead runner push ahead as I knew I needed to stick to my race and no one else’s.
Finished lap 1 in 2:28:24. Felt really good rolling through the start/finish line but I was completely soaked. Left lap 1 in second place overall.
After pushing through the start/finish checkpoint I proceeded back on the course and stopped by my friend’s tent where I stashed my gear. I took off my singlet and grabbed more UCAN gel packs, headlamp, iPod Shuffle and a headband. As I proceeded out onto the trail I ate my food that I grab from the checkpoint, took my UCAN packet and then a salt tablet. Jumped back into a good pace rhythm and listened to some tunes. As I rolled into the checkpoints on this lap I felt fine and kept up with my water and food. Actually looking back I would drink my entire 20oz of water between each aid station as I knew it was warm up and by the looks of my sweat I needed to keep up with replenishing fluids. The sun was setting and in the covered trails it was starting to get dark so it was time to click on the headlamp. Typically when I run at night I do chill my pace down by 30 seconds or so as I don’t want to run the risk of tripping. Under headlamp is fun but also you field of vision is very limited.
As I was pushing forward I stopped once to use the bathroom and I quickly recognized that my urine was not the typical color that I’m used too. I knew it was hot out and thought that this is probably due to the fact I was sweating A LOT so I made certain I’d drink twice a much as I already was and to keep up on my salt tablets.
Finished lap 2 in 3:02:43. Much better pacing on this lap thanks to the night fall. Left lap 2 in first place overall.
Same routine when I rolled through the start/finish line of lap 2 but this time when I was back at my tent I changed my shorts, socks, & shoes. I wanted to be dry for a bit. I grabbed some UCAN hydrate mix to add into my handheld and my usual UCAN gel packets and away I went. This lap I started to see other runners that were on their second loop. In a couple of out-n-back areas I got to see some friends and it was fun to see familiar faces…or well at least familiar headlamps. Once I made it into the first checkpoint on the loop I used the bathroom there and then the worries kicked in as my urine was dark as coffee. Overall I felt internally fine though so I stayed at this checkpoint for a bit to hydrate and eat. After about 5 minutes or so I proceeded on and worked back into a pace. From here on out I started to feel tired and unusually fatigued. Yes most people would be fatigued as this point but from my personal experience at this time in a race/mileage I’ve never felt this bad. A couple of years back at the same race I was tired and took a break plus some caffeine pills to wake me up but I didn’t want to take anything while I was peeing motor oil as I needed to get that under control first. Once I made it to the second checkpoint on the loop, roughly 42 miles in, my legs were trashed. This trashed feeling really concerned me as I shouldn’t feel like this. Again I stayed at this checkpoint for about 10 minutes or so to try to regain my strength. I took in more liquids, potatoes, anything with salt and slowing got back on the trail. I was a walking zombie as I was extremely tired. At one point just as I passed the checkpoint I did something I’ve never dealt with on a race before…threw up twice. Not sure if it was the food I took in or what.
As I was around 3 miles to go until finishing lap 3 I physically fell apart. Mentally I was in the game still but super tired and was scared and questioning why I felt like lap 6 of a hundo rather than the lap 3 I was on. As I stumbled into the start/finish line of my lap 3, I saw a chair as soon as I cross the mate and basically collapsed into it.
As I sat there physically wrecked and emotionally drained two good friends, Erin & Joe, appeared. Erin was running the hundred miler also but pulled out after lap two and I could see in her eyes that she had to make a tough call. Seeing these two there though truly helped me talk through what was the healthiest but most incredibly hard decision that I needed to make. Besides being unable to honestly walk, my urine was still dark as coffee and that scared me. While talking with Joe and Erin of what to do next I knew deep down I couldn’t manage another lap even if I stayed in the aid station tent for some time to try to rebound. 20 minutes of an emotional rollercoaster went by and suddenly the skies opened up with a torrential downpour of rain. At that moment I made the call that my body needed to stop and I would be okay with my Western States tickets being zeroed out. Yes I could have attempted to make it through the rain but this course is known to get extremely slimy in areas when it’s raining and with the shape I was in I did not want to risk any more injury.
Finished lap 3 in 3:57:11 and when I cross the timing mat at 50 miles I was at 9 hours and 27 minutes.
Now that it has been a couple of weeks and I know that I made the right call, I’m still analyzing what went wrong. I went into this trusting in my training and having faith that what I focused on this year would pay off in the end. But in the end I learned that there are days that just don’t fall in line. However there are some items that I took away from this learning experience:
- Heart Rate monitor – throughout my training this year I used a HR monitor to make sure I stayed in the right zone. For this race I purchased a newer Garmin watch (920xt) and I wanted to get the full 24hr battery life out of the watch thus I didn’t pair the monitor with it. Hindsight now I could care less about the overall capture of the data and should have just used the HR strap for at least the first two laps. While I thought my pace was comfortable for those two laps, my heart rate would have told a different story. A story of me probably way over my zone for this race. Right Dan? 🙂
- Hydration – I might have over hydrated with water that could have potentially flushed out my electrolytes too quickly.
- UCAN Hydrate – I should have taken more of these. Actually have it mixed in my handheld everyone fill up.
Yes my #WS100 tickets are now zeroed out and I’m OKAY with that. Sure there are other qualifier races this year to keep my tickets going (and yes we have already looked at these) but it’s time to reflect and accept this DNF and build from it. More importantly this year has been a blast with many adventures and new PRs. Now as we roll into the fall season of running I’m looking forward to more family time, coaching with the Let Me Run boys of Mattawan, and planning some 2017 adventures.
Have you had any DNFs this past year? If so how did you make the best of them and what did you do differently as you went into your next race?