Run Rabbit Run Race (quitting) Report

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I’ll get straight to it and post a more detailed report down below if you want to know the details. I dropped out of Run Rabbit Run 100 at mile 43… Far from my goals or what I envisioned. I don’t necessarily like the use “DNF” (did not finish). I made a conscious decision to  quit… I’m good with that. It’s for sure a bummer, especially when I worked so hard, but life will go on and I’m not dwelling on it. I have too much good going on in my life to worry about a bad race. I’ll live to fight another day.

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the details…

I toed the line Friday at noon and was so stoked. I felt so good and was just more than ready to get the day, and night, underway. I was prepared and feeling very rested. The initial climb up Mt Werner was great. I was jogging and hiking in a great group of guys and not working… Just talking and having a good time. I was feeling strong and the effort felt easy. We got up the initial ski hill climb and I was probably around 15th and with the people who I thought would be ahead of me ahead of me.

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The next section was a gradual fireroad climb up to the Mt Werner aid station at mile 5. I was running really easy and hiking when i needed to or felt like it. Not letting my heart rate spike at all. Somehow even with the easy effort I was moving up. By the time I hit that aid station I was in 6th and cruising. The next section to the Long Lake aid station at mile 11.8 was awesome. Almost all killer singletrack. I was pretty much alone most of the time and just holding back. I was jogging and just thinking a lot and really enjoying myself. A couple of miles before the aid station Jacob Puzey rolled up on me and then we rolled up on 3rd-5th which included Sage Canaday and Alex Nichols. I was in complete shock that they were right there. I wasn’t pushing it all. I took this as a good sign.

I hit the Long Lake aid station feeling great. I refilled my bottle and was out of there before a couple of the other guys. The next section is long descent down the Fish Creek falls trail. The bottom portion is pretty technical. My plan was to really hold back here and not smash my quads. I knew I would be caught by a handful of guys and that was fine. I finished the trail descent and we hit the road for a 4 mile section to the 22 mile aid station, Olympian Hall. I was in a good group of guys here including young gun Alex Lopez. He’s also from San Diego so we just talked about football, mostly the chargers, as we cruised down. I hit Olympian Hall in 7th (I think) and got to see Maggie, Fi, and Lucy for the first time. I was stoked.

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I had a been eating and drinking plenty and was feeling great. I restocked and was out of there. I was a bit closer to the front of the race than I thought I would be, or wanted to be that early in the race, so I made a decision to purposely dial it back even more on the 21 mile emerald mountain loop. The loop starts with a 3+ mile steep fireroad climb. I hiked a lot of it and got passed by a few guys. That was good with me. I had run and ridden this loop 3 times last summer over the course of the Steamboat Stinger race weekend. I knew it was super runnable on the backside so by taking it easy and hiking I was hoping would pay off and i’d be able to run the runnable stuff really well.

Things started to get a little weird on the climb. I started yawning a lot and all of a sudden felt like I could take a nap. I popped some caffeine and ate some more and by the time I started the descent to the Cow Creek aid station at mile 30 my energy was rising and I was feeling good. I was drinking a lot, both skratch and water, and had pee twice in the first 15 miles but as I descending into the aid station I was starting to feel a bit dehydrated. I spent some time there and drank some extra water and a cup of coke. I walked out of the aid station and started the 2 mile false flat fire road section.

During those 2 miles my stomach started locking up. It was like a vicious side stitch on my right side. Every step felt like I was getting stabbed in the gut. Not awesome, but I have had this a couple of times before and it typically goes a way rather quickly. Not this time though. I started the climb up the backside of emerald mountain and decided I was just going to hike it out and hopefully the cramp would release. I was soon caught by Bob Shebest and we hiked and talked for a bit until he decided to start running again and was quickly gone. A few minutes later another group passed. I wasn’t panicking but my gut wasn’t getting better… it was getting worse. Now I had full on locked up cramp on right side. I could slowly shuffle uphill but even jogging easy on the flats and descents resulted in a stabbing pain that was unbearable.

I spent the next 10 miles just hoping it would subside. I was walking everything, stretching, drinking more water… then trying not to drink but nothing was working. It was a bummer because my energy was back and my legs felt great. The final nail in the coffin for me was not being able to run the final 3+ mile descent back into the Olympian Hall Aid station. It’s just a rippable fireroad… and I couldn’t run. It was now dark I was glad I brought a head lamp in my pack for this section… just in case. I willed my self to run 20 painful steps a t time and then walk 20 just I could get to the aid station and pull the plug. I had convinced myself over the last hour that I was done. If couldn’t run now and the cramp or whatever wasn’t releasing and there was no way i was going walk 60+ miles.

Maggie met me just outside of the aid station and was ready to go. She was going to run the next 4 mile road section with me (only section the hares are allowed to have pacers for safety reasons). She was ready to get me in there and run out of there with me. When I told her I was done she said “bullshit”. It was now dark and getting cold. I sat in a chair trying to drink more and trying to stretch out my gut. No luck. At this point Maggie wasn’t going to let me quit. She tried everything… being mean and I believe calling me a pussy which was probably shocking to people around us that could hear her. I would typically respond really well to this but it didn’t do anything for me. I couldn’t run and I could feel the cramp even when I was walking. I was done…. but Maggie wasn’t giving up. We went into the aid station (inside at olympian hall) and Maggie was getting me some food. I ate a bowl of ramen which proceeded to go right through me. After that I was for sure done and told Maggie I was definitely dropping. I proceeded to go over the person doing the timing, told them I was dropping, and gave them my wristband. Game Over.

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I love Maggie for everything she did and how much she wanted this for me. She did everything she could and I am so thankful to be married to a woman who cares so much. I never questioned my decision. I went home, had a beer, and got a great night sleep. I woke up the next morning and my legs felt great but my stomach was super sore. It felt like a pulled muscle and even i wanted to run I couldn’t run because of it.

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So it’s been about a week and still don’t regret my decision to drop. I’m not sure what caused the issue (dehydration?) but it was pretty clear to me Saturday morning that it wouldn’t have let up over the course of hiking it out throughout the cold night. I’m not upset, depressed, and have zero regrets. It’s just running. What I am is frustrated as shit. I didn’t even get a chance to test my fitness, training, and really suffer. I put a lot of hard work and time into preparing for that race and haven’t been that focused on a singular race in years and to come so short of my goals is the hard part. I knew it would be hard, really hard… that’s what I was looking for… but I didn’t even get to the hard part. My legs felt good, I was able to get nutrition down, and was right in the mix where I wanted to be.

A lot of people make excuses both before races and after when things don’t go their way. You hear it in all kinds of pre and post race interviews…. here are some reasons I didn’t quit.

  • “i’m not 100% going in” – I felt like a million bucks
  • “I accidentally ate a sliver of gluten and I had stomach issues” – I eat a lot of gluten and have had an iron stomach racing all summer.
  • “I was sick the days before the race” – again… I felt awesome.
  • “I had an injury so I couldn’t train as much as I wanted to” – I had a great, conservative, training block for this race.
  • “blah,blah,blah”

F’ that. I don’t make excuses. I shit the bed…. even though I don’t know what caused the issue in my gut I decided to quit not even half way through the race. It’s all on me. I take full responsibility for not meeting my own expectations. The good thing though is that running or racing doesn’t define who I am so while quitting frustrates me on certain level it doesn’t affect my happiness or my attitude. I have been great spirits since and we spent the two days after the race having a killer time in steamboat. We took to the gondola to the top of the mountain, hiked around, and then had bloody mary’s on the deck of the restaurant in the blazing sun. And it just so happens that there was beer festival in the ski village on Saturday afternoon… so we hit that too. Then on Sunday morning before hitting the road Maggie and I hit the trails and had an awesome run.

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I’ve come up short of my expectations or didn’t perform my best at plenty of races over the course of my 10+ years of racing but I don’t know if I’ve failed as much as I did last Friday. Ultra running is hard and unpredictable and I’m not going to give up. Quitting has for sure lit a fire in my belly to get back at it and chase after more goals and continue to challenge myself by jumping into hard, competitive races.

I’m not sure what’s next in the immediate future but I’m working on that. I’ll for sure be toeing the line, or attempting to, at another 100 next year. Thanks everybody who left comments or sent me messages in the weeks and days leading up to the race and after. I’ll be back and I’ve enjoyed blogging again so maybe I’ll keep at it more regularly.

  3 comments for “Run Rabbit Run Race (quitting) Report

  1. joel anderson
    September 23, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Good write-up James. Sorry you couldn’t test your fitness last week. Dropping sounds like the most logical decision and it doesn’t seem like you’ve needed much recovery time. Kudos on a positive attitude. Now crush the next race!

  2. September 24, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    James,

    There will be other races. Hang in there! It is about getting in your “reps” and continuing to gain experience. The veterans make it look easy and remember that “failure is not a permanent fixture.” I raced the Leadville 100 four times and met some obstacles. I race the Hardrock 100 two times and the second time chose to run the last 70 miles with no skin on my heels due to blisters. That was a beast, finishing in 39:57.

    Your day will come and remember in racing, as well as life, it is about the journey. Reach out to me if I can be of assistance. Your Mdrive teammate.

    Kurt Madden

  3. Jed Frumpkin
    September 28, 2016 at 5:10 am

    What a wussy! Can’t even get halfway before a little tummy ache sidelines you. Sounds like too much beer, too much biking, too many tattoos! Get off the computer, and get on the trails, run long, run long, run long. And, Vote Trump!!!

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