Friday, October 12, 2012

IMTUF (Idaho Mountain Trail Ultra Festival) Actually I'm not --- first DNF

To say I was excited about this race is an understatement.  After I finished BigHorn 100 in June, I was certain that I would not toe the line at IMTUF 100 in Oct.  It felt insurmountable.  I gave up thinking about it and just focused on my millions of day to day activities that a mom of 4 who works part-time has.  It was easy to pretend like I didn't have a BEASTLY race coming up...kind of.  Slow but surely in mid Aug, I began to have a fire to train and to focus on IMTUF.  My weekly mileage grew in quantity, in quality and with intensity, that is until my allergy season started at the beginning of Sept.  With the increased allergies brought increased inflammation in my airways and the start of my asthma flare.  By Sept 28, just 15 days before the start of IMTUF, I reluctantly called my doctor to report my declining peak flows and inability to perform any physical activity (including walking up the long stairway in my house) without significant work of breathing.  He immediately called in a steroid medication.  This with my already increased medication to fight off the raging allergies just felt like I was a walking Walgreens.  I still had some hope though.  My last run had been a PR on a short 4+miler on a local hill I like to call Nemesis.  I had been forced into no running because of my lungs and felt like it was just going to be a sharply declined taper.  Not really ideal but I would be fine.  On Oct 4, I had my first normal peak flow reading.  I was elated and thought....I'm back to my A-game....or so I *thought*. 

Oct 5th came.  Craig and I farmed out our four children to three different homes.  We drove up to Burgdorf and I was dismayed to find when we arrived, there was so much smoke there it was as though you were standing over a camp fire without even being near one.  The smoke from a fire that had started three weeks prior but was several miles to the west had settled in the valleys and it was thick.  The cold air at night was trapping the smoke down low.  It was so heavy and think that the views of the mountains were hazy and you could not see far.  I could feel the heaviness in my breathing right away but I refused to give any voice to the rising anxiety inside.  There was nothing I could do about this now.  I had trained.  I had called the doctor (which is NOT normally a thing I would do unless I was missing work).  I had been diligent to not push myself as to not further the inflammation process already taking over my respiratory system.  I relaxed and did what I could to just take it in.  The setting really was ideal.  It was gorgeous and looked like so much fun.  I wanted to finish this race really, REALLY bad. 

6:00AM Burgdorf, ID - IMTUF 100 starts:

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!  No one went anywhere.  It was the most comical start I'd ever seen.  33 of us standing there waiting for someone to start running.  Me being the slowest runner of the bunch started walking/shuffling and pretending to move over the start line in hopes every one would blaze past me.  Pretty much they did.  As we started running, it became immediately clear that my lungs were SO TIRED!  I realized by the end of about three miles that I could either slow down or pull out very early.  I decided that I would slow down.  I walked and took a break. By the time I got to the first crew spot (Chinook AS-13 mi) I had used my inhaler twice because I was hacking so hard I couldn't catch my breath.  My body felt like I'd done NOTHING but my lungs felt like I was breathing under water.  I knew that this was not going to be my day and I had a decision to make.  Quit now or carry on at a slower pace and go until I couldn't make the cut offs.  There was no way in heck I could reconcile quitting at that point.  Why in the world would I have taken the medication to get my lungs back to a breathing level if I wasn't going to get the most out of my run.  So I carried on. 
I had so many thoughts about what was happening.  Ryan was going to be pacing me from mile 44 on.  I felt bad that I'd even asked him to pace me.  I was so slow that this would be like a boring horrible task for him to be with me. He deserved to be with a fast runner.  I also remember specifically thinking about how in a few days after this was all done, I would be angry that I hadn't finished and no matter how much I tried to convince myself, I would not believe that I had tried hard enough.  I even told my sister on the drive home that this would be good practice for me to have "tried my best", not achieved the goal.  I need to learn what it's like to be OK with giving all I had and not obtaining my goal.  This is definitely not familiar territory for me.  I guess I should say that I made it to mile 78 before I became fodder for the trail.  A couple of thoughts: #1 This was by far my most favorite race to date.  #2 I now appreciate much more my BigHorn finish.

It hasn't been a full week.  I can say this much.  I feel like I gave a moderate effort and am 100% recovered.  I'm sure I'm not 100% but I feel no undue tiredness, not extra muscle fatigue.  The swelling in my lower extremities is all but gone.  I'm eating and sleeping normally and I'm burning for the change to race again.  There is a half marathon that several of my friends are running on Nov. 3 and I may just sign up and run it.  I can't get enough of that uphill climb, the burn in the lungs, the rising feeling that I'm tapping out to the eminent retching if I don't slow my HR.  I yearn for those feelings.  I love to push myself and I will do it again.  I thought I would just be doing one 100 miler in 2013 but I see myself doing at least two.  One for fun and one to get down to serious business! 

The bottom line, I'm working to not regret my DNF.  I want to learn from it.  I need to embrace it and accept it as part of my journey.  What I know about my journey is that it's not about the destination, it's about the steps along the way.