October 8, 2016 — Cassoday, KS
I was ready for this race — until I wasn’t. I dropped out of my first 100-mile race after 58.1 miles, but the October 8 DNF could have easily been a DNS due to a pretty gross September 10 ankle injury. See injury below:
It honestly did feel a lot better prior to race day. Fastest healing I’d ever done, I told people. Maybe it was the gradual pounding on the gravel roads of the Flint Hills. Maybe I shouldn’t have tried in the first place. I dunno. But I’m paying the price since race day.
Sure, I have fleeting moments where I tell myself “You should have kept going. You should have gone until it fell off.” But let’s be honest — that would have been beyond dumb. Some long-term healing is needed at this point.
On to the race.
It was chilly early, but when the sun began to rise, the stunning views made it difficult to feel any pain or have any negative thoughts. I love Kansas.
After the 8.5 mile aid station, the hills get bigger and longer until the next aid station at 17. I knew this, however, having finished the spring 50 each of the past two years. I still felt decent heading into that 17th mile and beyond.
My beautiful wife (and crew) Kami, did a tremendous job all day long and in to the night, as I expected she would. My other crew member (and pacer) Melissa was invaluable, as well. They were there for me when I needed them most. They almost had me convinced at mile 58 to go another stretch to the next aid station (64). Mentally, I was still in it. Emotionally, I was as prepared as possible to go the full 103+ or whatever it wound up being.
Physically, I was finished. My foot just couldn’t take the pounding any more.
I actually considered quitting at mile 25, when my foot/ankle acted up a bit and I was struggling to breathe — same song, different verse with that one.
But they convinced me to keep going.
I struggled until about 28. That’s when I hit a groove. I’m not sure what got into me, but I was probably a solid half-mile or more back in last place when I picked off seven or eight runners over the next few miles. I moved surprisingly well until hitting another wall around mile 34.
I again considered tossing the towel at mile 37, when this picture Melissa took summed up my feelings perfectly.
Here’s another from that same aid station, after changing clothes. Had to work on the ankle a bit here…
I made it solo to mile 43, where I was allowed a pacer. Melissa joined me for those next 15, but it wasn’t more than 3 or 4 before I knew I was in trouble. I did get a small boost or two while listening to the Cubs NLDS Game 2 victory over San Francisco, which is probably the only reason I don’t look completely miserable here…
All in all, yes — I’m immensely disappointed with how this race turned out. But given my fitness level (I’ve gained back the majority of the weight I lost when I started running in the first place) and the relatively short turnaround after the ankle injury, I’m not sure what else I could have reasonably expected.
Though I’m upset with how I did and the circumstances that unfolded, there’s not a doubt in my mind that shutting it down was the right call. Each step I take, I wonder if maybe I should have shut it down sooner. But I live to run another day — eventually.
I love the Heartland course, and I will be back. Perhaps at the 50, perhaps for the 100 again. Who knows. Either way, until next time, Cassoday…