TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Despite Defeat, I Still Love Trail Running

Well, things have not been going as planned.  Goals have not been met.  I’ve been sleeping a lot.  I mean A LOT.  The day before the Saddleback Marathon in fact, after disturbing dreams, I woke at 6:00 AM, got the boys off to school.  Then when I arrived home at 8:30, I went promptly back to sleep and didn’t wake until noon.  I fought against a nap all afternoon.  I was sound asleep by 9 PM.   One would have thought I would have been good and strong for Saturday’s race.  I thought so.  I left the home at 6:00 AM Saturday, anxiety-free, feeling rested.  I drank 2 cups of coffee and also about 16 ounces of carrot juice for breakfast (this is standard for me). 

The 24th year of the Saddleback Marathon was festive.  I relished the atmosphere of 75 runners prepping for a run through the Saddleback Mountains.  I did my usual 45 minute walk-about to warm up.  And while walking along the road, a car pulled over, the window rolled down and a man with a British-like accent said “You don’t know me, but I read your blog.  You’re Lauren, right?”  He said that he’d only been in the states for a couple of weeks and found a lot of these trails largely because of this blog.  Wow.  He was so kind to stop and compliment me, a stranger like that.  I felt pretty good.

My only concern was not beating or even making last year’s time.  But I felt that I would do okay.  This race is run on “my” trails after all.  I’ve run them again and again.

The start caught me off-guard with my vest half-way on.  A friendly runner whom I see at almost every race, helped me get it untangled and on as we ran from the start.  The crowd took off ahead of me which is normal.  Plus I always line-up at the back.  I wasn’t even that concerned that my energy seemed minimal at first.  I’m often a stronger finisher than I am starter.

The first 3 miles, which were most mainly uphill were unreasonably tough for me.  Surprised, I still didn’t worry too much because Trabuco Trail lay ahead.  I knew that I would gain some of the time that I lost.

I flew down Trabuco with a top pace of 8:14 (according to my garmin).  I didn’t waste any time taking photos, though I filmed a little, and I passed three runners. 

Then something happened on the way up Holy Jim.  My foot had been bothering me for a while.  But my neuroma foot has been bothering me a lot lately, and I’ve been able to run through the pain (history on that in another entry).  The weather grew warm as I made the climb.  I didn’t layer for this race.  I figured that I’d just roll up my sleeves.  But the thing was, I also didn’t re-fill fluids at the end of Trabuco.  With fluids running low, my body over heating and my foot aching, my energy seemed to seep out of me not like a leaking balloon – more like a pin stuck to a balloon.  My energy popped.  I felt nauseated.  And at times I felt a little lightheaded.  I even staggered here and there up that giant switch back. 

Then my fight with the demons began.  The battle that raged on in my head got so intense I ended up crying.  No.  Not just crying.  I was bawling while running, while running up hill.  As you can imagine, breathing became very difficult, and I nearly hyper-ventilated.  I probably would of, had two cyclists not just turned the bend.  I didn’t want them to try and help me or have any concern over me, so I immediately sucked it up. 

By the time other runners passed me, I had pulled myself together on the outside.  I told the last woman who passed me that I was out.  I was going to DNF.  I think I told her before I “officially” told myself.  From that point onward, the climb up Holy Jim was pure hell.  It took everything I had not to sit down and rest.  Saturday, that trail certainly earned its other names for me: Holy Crap and Holy Cow. 

I probably could have finished the race.  But why?  My foot ached, I felt light headed, nauseated and was losing my balance.  I can’t even go into the brutal war that was raging on in my head. I didn’t see any reason to put myself through the misery any longer.

A long time ago, after my other DNF, I told myself that if I ever DNF’d again, I would do it with dignity.  I did my crying in private.  And once the tears dried, I didn’t cry again.  I was gracious, and oh so thankful for the aid workers when I finally reached them.  I even offered to help, though they insisted that I rest.  Most importantly, I made dang sure that my drop was recorded so that no one would have to go searching for me in the mountains.

This would have been a perfect DNF with dignity had I not done one thing.  When the aid workers drove past my truck, I had them let me out there.  I did not go back to the Start/Finish line to congratulate and bid farewell to friends.  I regret that.  If there’s a next time, and there will probably be, I will not omit the last step.  If I will perfect anything, I will perfect the DNF.  LOL.

Despite defeat, I still love trail running.

This is how far I got, and though I didn’t get any photos, I did take some video.  And if you know me, you know I made a DNF video (below).Running Saddleback DNF 11-3-2012, Elevation - Distance

Saddleback Marathon 2012

14 comments:

  1. Hopefully there won't be another DNF, but it sounds like you'll handle it with grace if it happens.

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    1. Thanks Kovas. I hope there won't be another DNF. With the races that I pick however, there's always a chance. This one really surprised me though.

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  2. Sorry to hear Lauren but these things happen to all of us. You'll be back strong. First sort out all the foot issues and then come back strong. You still ran a very hard half marathon there. More than most people can do. So great to have a blog reader chatting to you, awesome! Rest and recover well Lauren!

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    1. Thanks Johann. This one really took me by surprise. I went to bed last night with no worries. I am already over it though. : )

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  4. Sounds like you need a change of scenery. I want to do a couple of attitude runs. Training for the Ragnar Wasatch Back. Maybe we can get a group run up Mt Baldy in the late winter/spring time.

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    1. You are right Jeremy. One of the first things I thought was that I need a change of scenery.

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  5. Ahh, Lauren. I'm sorry your day didn't go as planned :(

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  6. Okay. First, you had a blog fan not only spot you in the wild but stop you and compliment you on your work. That's awesome.

    Second, and excuse me while I get a bit crude, but you not only had the balls to DNF the race, but you freaking made a video about it! That had to be tougher than dropping. I could hear the emotion in your voice and see it on your face and yet you still smiled. Wow.

    Thirdly, I'll be thinking about you this weekend as I attempt my second Richmond Marathon. I was on the fence about dropping to the half or 8k but I've decided to bone up and stick with the full marathon. Will I finish? I have no idea. But I'm prepared to DNF (it would be my first ever). I have nothing to gain but a medal by doing this race. I can only hope I have as much grace as you if I do DNF.

    Finally, I think you need a break. I know I need one. And your symptoms sound a lot like mine. Tired, worn out, and somehow losing sight of the joy of running. Me, I personally plan to do some hibernating after my 50k in December. That's my final goal. Everything else can wait until next year. So sit back, relax, watch some movies, drink some wine, do some foam rolling, and read some books. Then after a day of going stir-crazy, go run a new trail. Go walk a new trail. Sit down on a rock of bench and enjoy the moment. No pressures. Just the moment.

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    1. Thanks Lumberjack. This is definitely among my favorite comments. To say I had balls to DNF is a little different. But the more I thought about it, I think you're right. The fact that I've finished this race twice before helped. And I was embarrassed somewhat that I DNF'd a marathon.

      And you are right. I needed a break. I hope you are getting your well-earned break too. Happy Thanksgiving!

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  7. It's kind of like training - recovery is the piece that makes us stronger.

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    1. Thanks for reading Glenn. And thanks for your comments. I'm working on recovery. Mental recovery for me is important too. : ))

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