April 26, 2014

UTMF

Just want to say thank you so much for all of the incredible support. Pre-race, during the race, post-race, I am a part of a wonderful community and feel incredibly fortunate to have so many people, from friends and family to acquaintances and people I have yet to meet who are so forthcoming with with their constant support.

The long and short of it. It wasn't my day from early on in the race, but I was determined to stick with it and to figure it all out. I had the better part of eight hours of feeling like shit while barely holding on enough mentally to keep myself from removing my bib and calling it a day. In the middle of all of this I also missed a turn and added an additional two kilometers to my race, though the nearly 60 year old man who without hesitation took off running at a decent clip, leaving his wife behind, to run me back onto course was certainly one of the highlights of my day.

Somewhere around the eight hour mark, about 65km into the race, things started to feel normal again. For the first time all day I felt like an actual runner. I somehow knew that the worst was behind me and as such I managed to go from survival mode back to racing mode. I started clipping people off one at a time and by the midway point at A7 (81km) I had resurrected top ten aspirations. My big race goal of finishing in the top five again this year was dead in the water, but I knew that if I could just keep doing what I was then doing top ten would come back to me. (Looking back on the race a day later, the two runners immediately behind me at A7 went on to finish 7th and 8th overall)

From km 80 to 95 was almost all downhill, and almost all on a paved surface. I was clicking off the distance as I found myself in a very positive head space for virtually the first time all day long. Earlier in the day I told Justin Jablonowski (a good friend from back home and just one of my incredible support team) that "I think my day is done" and yet there I was some 60kms later feeling better than I had since the first aid station.

With about 4km left to go on the descent after A7 (~90km) I felt a click in my left foot, not quite a pop, but a click. It took me all of one full second to know what was happening. During HURT100 in Jan, at mile 90 my left foot all of a sudden went completely numb. I pushed through without giving it much thought. I later learned I had an injury called metatarsalgia. I dealt with this through Feb and into March, but hadn't really thought about it since.

I needed to clench the toes of my foot to keep my metatarsal from collapsing and to help nullify the pain. I did this through the 95km water station and onto the 105km aid station. Very near the 100km mark my altered biomechanics became my undoing. My entire left side was seizing up while simply attempting to keep my left foot as protected as possible.

I came into the 105km aid station in a very good position in the race. Top ten was undeniably still up for grabs. I had fought my tail off to get through the first eight hours of the race only to come out the other side feeling the best I had all day long. Hours eight through twelve had felt almost euphoric in contrast to hours two through eight. It was like a reverse 100 miler in which the toughest miles were presented earlier rather than later, granted I wouldn't get the chance to fully test that theory. To see if I could have continued pushing over the Tenshi Mountains and to have gotten myself back up onto the big stage podium finish this year.

My bib was removed and I was officially out of the race. I did not attain what I set out to do this year at UTMF, in fact I didn't even come close.

I did find myself tested in new a creative ways by my body and by my mind, and I didn't quit on myself. I fought harder in this 100 than I ever had to before. Maybe the ultimate curse in running 100's is to have ever had a perfect day, to have ever been disillusioned by a single perfect 100 miler is to believe those perfect races should or could somehow become the norm.

What I'll take away from this one is the fact that I was faced with new and daunting challenges and I continued to power through them. I did not quit on myself at any point in time. Injuries suck but they are a part of it all.

I did not get what I came for, I got something else entirely. I'm not about to sit here less than 24hrs later and wax poetic about how that's a good thing. There are silver linings to be found in most things and undoubtedly I may eventually find one here too, but for today let me just say, this sucks. I'm leaving incredibly disappointed. I finally had a world stage, a world class field, and a course in which I'd already succeeded on to perform on. The disappointment that washes over me is absolute.

10 comments:

johntsharp said...

Thanks for sharing, I was rooting for you! Get healed up!

Kristie said...

You always keep it real and that's part of why I will always be part of your cheering section. I am sorry for the way things turned out. Hugs

Halaiah Miller said...

Try not to be down on yourself, You did the Best you could on that day. There will be many more races, and you will learn from this one.

michael miller said...

disappointment is part of the journey, brother. you've already itemized many of the positives from this experience, maybe the biggest being that you didn't quit on yourself.

own the good stuff, kick the bad to the curb, keep moving forward.

you're setting a fine example.

Steve said...

Hey Gary,

Thank you very much for this post. Thanks for sharing your experiences and feelings.
I wish you all the best.
Good recovery!

See you in August

Greetings from Germany

Steve

Robert P Smith said...

Physical disappointments keep me from even getting to the starting line much more often than not so I can very much relate. At least you're out there giving it all you got and never giving up. Your fighting spirit still motivates more of us than you may ever know.

Ken Michal said...

DNF's do suck! I know you'll bounce back from this and come back stronger than ever!! The best part? It's not another Jones fracture!!! Sending love your way!! Can't wait to see Linda smoke Miwok too!

All Day!
~Ken

Chris Barth said...

Thanks for sharing Gary, you will persevere once again and even though its said a 100 times, will become stronger for it. You shine through as a great person and not just a runner which is a pretty awesome thing to be remembered by in the grand scheme of things. You push it to the limit and lay it on the line all the time which unfortunately leads to injuries. You live a full and honest life this way with heart and conviction, and you will continue to battle through this as well and kick butt!!! One day at a time, keep on keepin on :).

Hannah Roberts said...

Gary it's your class and humility as a champion and as a DNF that makes you one of the best in the sport. Stay awesome my friend and quick recoveries.

garobbins said...

Thanks everyone!

GR