Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Ghosts That Haunt Me - Run At The Rock 2012

You would think a total race failure would be a horrible experience, and I guess for some people it might be. However, I failed, horribly I might add, to finish the 14 mile Run At The Rock, but it wasn't so bad. True, I did suffer with some bowel discomfort (it felt like I might actually give birth to red hot demon babies when I finally made it to the toilet), and quitting the race was difficult when I was 5 miles from the finish line (and toilet paper), but hey, you play the hand you are dealt. Turns out, all five of my cards were deuces. Yes, that's a poo pun. Sorry. As usual, I'm getting ahead of myself. Rewind to earlier in the morning.

I Hate My Phone
I had arranged a carpool with several local trail runners who had agreed to meet at my house around 6:45AM. So, waking up to a knock on the door at 6:47AM wasn't quite what I had expected. I jumped out of bed and grabbed my cell phone, which should have sounded an alarm 47 minutes prior, and attempted to check the time. The phone was completely dead. I hate my phone. Hate, hate, hate.

Well, the kids had heard the knocking and were now out of bed, so I scrambled like a mad man collecting gear and putting on some clothes while my wife and kids entertained the carpool folks downstairs (my wife is a saint!). Ten minutes later, and we were off.

Where Is Everybody?
Arriving at the Cedarock Park (someone please buy an R for poor Cedarock Park!), it was quiet. Too quiet. I think the race was undersold this year, which is a shame considering it is such a good race. I parked in a prime position next to the portion of the course that follows the main park road and concentrated on just keeping warm (31F at the start on my car thermometer). It was great seeing all the usual suspects (in no particular order and apologies to anyone I may have omitted, AC, Shannon, Josh, Iris, David, Gene, Jeff, Dan, Steph, Jay, Matt, etc, etc, etc), but I really wish the parking field would have been full for this race. It would be a shame to see this race fade away due to low attendance.

Goals Are For Losers
Runners make runs?
Good thing I have laser like focus on ONE goal for this Winter - surviving Uwharrie 40, otherwise I might have set some crazy, unrealistic goals and metrics for this race, and pushed my body until it hit the ditch while attempting to achieve those goals and make those metrics. But I didn't set any goals or metrics, which was really, really difficult. Usually I have some sort of overall finishing metric in mind when the race starts, and perhaps a few haphazard goals to achieve, but this time, nothing. That was both freeing and concerning, but I tried not to worry too much and just run for run.

The Race
The race started innocently enough. I lined up near the front of the pack so I could get some decent pictures of the masses as they streamed by me like a river flowing around a fat boulder. And I had a great time for the first couple of miles. I slowly drifted back through the pack, saying "Hi" or giving hell to all my faster friends as they passed me by. The happiness wouldn't last.

Shirtless(?) douche bags at the start.
(Photo courtesy of Shannon Johnstone)

Mile, Number 2
Irony is my friend. And my greatest nemesis. Around mile 2, my bowels unleashed a small spasm of discomfort which rolled around my midsection like the waves of a miserable tsunami, amplifying with each footstep. The faster I ran, the bigger the waves. "It'll pass" I thought. "Just some temporary gas or something".

But it didn't pass. Like a rogue wave, it began building higher and higher with each pounding step through the forest. By mile 5, I was reduced a constipated walk. Running was risky since I didn't have a change of clothes, and there simply wasn't enough forest foliage to ape a bear. So I walked as fast as I could directly towards the finish, and the toilets.

Thanks to Gene for walking with me a while at
my most miserable point in the race.

Beer makes everything better. Well, maybe
not an intestinal virus.
That's right, I quit. I Did Not Finish. I had signed up for 2 loops for total of 14(ish) miles, but I managed less than one loop, ending with a very long visit to the toilet. Do I feel bad about this? Only intestinally. Anyone who has been running long enough knows that DNFs are simply unavoidable if you run enough races. Sh!t happens.

And the poor toilet - it Did Not Flush.

I could have won the whole thing
with this!