To begin, I hate excuses. I followed a shirt in the Newport Marathon several years ago that said, paraphrasing, “After all the explanations and all the excuses, at the end of the day, what you accomplish is exactly what you intended”. Having said that, I did a lot of things right and I made some mistakes, and hopefully I learned some things. I think the challenge was fair. I think completing it in 4 days was within my abilities and I think I trained well for it. I’ve broken my thoughts into a couple of categories.
The course and daily mileage. Putting big miles and big hills together early took it’s toll but I’m not sure how I could have broken the miles up any differently. Doing less miles on either Day 1 or Day 2 probably would not have saved the day 3 meltdown (much more on that later) and I would have just been further from the finish. If anything, maybe 2 or 3 more miles on Day 1 and/or getting all the way to the bottom of Cow Canyon on Day 2 might have helped but these thoughts are exclusively with the benefit of hindsight, so I think I planned the course about as well as I could.
The heat. When I planned this run back in the Winter, I knew it would be hot. When we had such a mild early Summer, I started getting the feeling that the first heat wave of the year would hit on my week. When the forecast was going up with each day closer to the start I was mentally preparing myself for heat. In the week before the run I tried to schedule all of my runs for the heat of the day, but these days were rarely even in the 70’s. No amount of mental preparation was going to help a jump from the 60’s to the 90’s. I got a late start on Day 1 and spent more time in the heat than I needed to, other than that I was starting at dawn each day. As tough as the heat was I think the constant exposure to the sun was worse. It was hotter on my run up the Gorge last year but I was moving from shade to sun regularly. On this run I was never in the shade, ever!
Calories, salt and water. Here is where I made some big mistakes. I rely on a drink blend from Infinit Nutrition to provide me with 220 calories and enough sodium and electrolytes in 20 oz of water per hour. This has worked very well for me for a while now. But, I have a confession. I don’t know if I made an arithmetic error or I didn’t realize how much Infinit drink I would go through or a combination of the two, but it was obvious after Day 1 that I did not bring enough Infinit. I have a back up plan, S Caps, a sodium and electrolyte pill, just in case I get to the point where I can’t keep Infinit down. I have a second confession. I have a bad habit, when I’m feeling strong, of thinking I don’t need anything. It’s stupid, maybe even semi machismo, to wave off volunteers at an aid station or to tell Jeanne, I’m fine, I don’t need anything. A few things happened on Day 2, which was the hottest day, had the biggest hill and was my longest mileage day. I started mentally rationing Infinit knowing I didn’t have as much as I need. In retrospect, this would have been ok had I started taking the S Caps or some other means of getting salt, but I didn’t. I also didn’t eat much on Day 2, because I felt good and wanted to just keep going. I didn't pay for this mistake on Day 2 and still felt good when I finished but I had very little energy that night, and very little appetite. So I was in a pretty deep hole for calories and salt when I started Day 3. I was still thinking that I needed to ration the Infinit, saving it for later in the day when it was hotter. By the time I decided to eat at mile 8, it was too late. I recognized the symptoms of hyponatremia, nausea, swollen fingers and hands, but as it’s happening, for the first time, it’s difficult to figure out what to do. You are thirsty, and your impulse is to drink water, but that just makes the problem worse. People say “listen to your body”, but some times, and this is one of them, it’s not good advice.
The upside of these mistakes is I got it figured out, recovered and finished in good health. I've learned that I need a schedule for water, calories and salt. I feel good about the completion, grateful for the hard lesson and thankful that I had Jeanne with me.
My sights are now set on the Lean Horse 100 August 28th. And I've already started thinking about journey runs for next Summer.