More than being a nod to Kenny Rogers (who doesn’t love that song? Communists that’s who!) that is a perfect description of my 3rd attempt at Deadman Peaks Trail Run. I say attempt because I unfortunately Did Not Finish (DNF). I am both disappointed and proud of my performance but we’ll get to that.
I took a half-day off on Friday and came home and packed up my gear. After hanging out with Lisa and the girls I hit the road for Cuba, NM. This was a big deal for a couple different reasons: this was my first time running this race without my family present and I missed them and more importantly this was my first time off on my own since coming clean. In my past life (as I call it) I would have taken the opportunity afforded by my being alone and anonymous to misbehave. Grossly.
Despite our shared misgivings we worked out a plan we both felt comfortable with and went ahead. I think I’ll cover this further in a separate post but all went well and it was a positive experience.
Arriving at the trail-head/campsite at sunset, I was just in time to catch the evening colors tinting the moon rise:
I quickly set about making camp and settling in for the night. I managed to forget a spoon so I wandered over to the central campfire and borrowed one from another camper. I then ate my borscht, prepped my drop bags, read more of Neverni by Jay Kristoff and went to bed at about 9. I did get texts and calls from a couple programs buddies I had reached out to. Good folks.
It got down to 37º at night but that’s a killer tent and I have a good sleeping bag and extra blanket. I had hand and body warmers to throw in the bag if needed but it didn’t come to that.
5am came pretty quickly. I woke, dressed and ate (here is where things went wrong I think) and headed out to the fire to keep warm while waiting for the start. We did the countdown and were off!
The 9 miles to the first Aid Station (AS) g by quickly as it is dark and we are fresh. Running along the ridge in the growing light is possible my favorite part of the race and pictures cannot do it justice.
At AS1 I quickly took my jacket and headlamp off. Drank some water and Tailwind, ate a handful of something and took off. I felt a poop coming, but this AS is in a field so there was no hiding and I opted to wait until I had more cover.
I fell in with a couple other runners at my pace, one of whom was a talker. I very quickly learned we both worked in the medical field, had both lived in the same part of MN and had kids roughly the same age. Small world!
AS2 is a total of 17 Miles in and it’s a climb to get there but I was on track for an approx 12 hr finish and still feeling strong. A quick snack and refill of water and I was off. And then I was off track.
Just after AS2 I stopped to poop. Nothing weird about it but after that everything went to shit. My stomach started talking to me…angrily. My pace slowed a bit but not too much. I let the talker and his pal lead out ahead, I prefer to run in silence anyway, but mostly I was listening to my stomach grumble.
That snack at AS 2 was the last real food I had all day. I couldn’t get anything else down and despite my drinking plenty of water and Tailwind I wasn’t hydrating properly. By the time I reached the turn around at 26.5 miles I was having flank pain (kidney pain) and dark urine. I still couldn’t eat so I took my time at the turn around and sipped Ginger ale and sucked on ginger chews to settle my stomach, which they did. I still couldn’t get anything substantial down but my stomach didn’t hurt anymore so off I went!
The four miles back to AS3 were long and I took another extended break there and did more stomach assessment and ginger eating. I decided to head out before fully getting my stomach back under me though I did force down some pumpkin bread and a banana with nutella.
Not two miles out I knew I had made the an unwise decision. My stomach hurt enough now that I couldn’t run anymore but was forced to walk. I threw away the extra food I had carried from the AS. I knew there was no way I was going to eat it. I couldn’t even suck on a mint.
My goal then became to get back to AS2 and there were times I didn’t think it would happen. It was the hottest part of the day (79º) with no cover from the sun and I hadn’t been able to eat anything since 9:45 that morning. The RN in me knew I was overheated, dehydrated and probably hypoglycemic. I had GU packets but I knew I would vomit as soon as they hit my stomach and a tub-a-lard like me has a extra calories to burn but I couldn’t spare the water lost in emesis or diarrhea. I’d been drinking all day but I wasn’t absorbing it. But hey it was pretty out here!
After what felt like hours of prayer doubled over in pain (Is there any Remover of Difficulty save God?) I stumbled into the AS, 36 miles done and 17 miles short of completion, but I was finished. My Garmin had died a half mile earlier and my phone was on it’s last legs as well. I texted Lisa I was dropping and safe and that my phone was dying and I’d connect with her when I got back to the start/finish.
I hung with the crew until the last runners were through. I sipped more ginger ale and water and sucked on lifesavers while packing up. The drive out was beautiful and I was with a husband and wife who had helped plan and clear the trail we were running on! They were experts in local outdoor activities and gave me many tips on where to take the family. I thanked them profusely.
Back at the start/finish I changed my clothes, packed up my gear and waited with the other runners for our drop bags to return. I charged my phone in the truck and reconnected with my family. Still not able to eat I was sipping warm water while reviewing my day.
Normally I’m known for having a cast-iron stomach. I can eat anything anytime and not be troubled, so what went wrong?
I have a couple theories.
- Ayurvedic Cleanse killed my Stomach
- That hard-boiled egg at breakfast was a bad choice
- Some other third thing
In the two weeks leading up to the race Lisa and I were following an Ayurvedic Cleanse. My short version is “eat healthy foods to reset your digestive system and put you back in balance”. 4 days of food to deconstruct your digestion, 7 days of kitchari (an excellent meal) to neutralize and 4 days of foods that will build it back up. Well race day was Day 1 of build up meaning my digestion was at it’s lowest point when I threw all sorts of race food at it.
Conclusion: Bull-shit. I’ve done this the past two years for fall and spring races and never had any issue with cleansing and racing.
I had a hard boiled egg for breakfast on race day. I must admit I have NO IDEA how old that egg was. Lisa and I had been cleansing for about two weeks so upon reflection it was at least that old. I didn’t even finish it which says something. Conclusion: Possible
Truthfully it was probably a combination of both, a really bad egg (Pirates of the Caribbean reference btw) and a weakened digestive tract. I blame the egg.
I’m happy and disappointed. I’m happy to have made it as far as I did and that I persevered through such hardship. I’m disappointed I was unable to finish again but I’m more disappointed I didn’t listen to myself and stop sooner. I suspected what was coming by mile 26 and I kept going for 10 more miles! That’s hours more and miles more for something bad to happen in the middle of nowhere. I am blessed to come out of it with a deep tan and an upset stomach and nothing more.
There it is. A long ramble. I’m still here and happy to be so. The race beat me this year with help from my stomach and that damned egg.
It’s OK. I’ll get it next year.