Long Haul 100M - Land O'Lakes, Florida
January 19, 2019 - The hundred-mile distance continues to elude me in the waning years of my run at life. Perhaps I am all used up and just plain worn out. Precise preparation, solid fueling, and the best of intentions just don't stand up to limiting injuries that won't go away. So, once again, I found myself forced to withdraw from the field of play, chosing discretion over valor, licking my wounds, tail between my legs, trying hard not to get dejected. No one wants to hear an excuse, especially the same one I've played over and over again. Some might say I should just hang it up, but I am not ready to quit my pursuit of finishing what has become my nemesis in the sport. I could just settle on shorter events that I usually can finish, but I continue to reach for what has been hardest to achieve. After a lifetime of mixed success and failure, I still view failure as a stepping stone to achievement. While others may say I have come up short, I consider that I am that much closer to success. So, after I convey my story of this event, I shall lay it to rest and move forward with excitement for the next race in my sights.
The forecast for this event was almost perfect, except for temps reaching almost 80 degrees and thunderstorms at night; neither extreme bothered me much. I enjoyed running on the dry trails of Cypress Creek Preserve right from the start at 0700. This is a course I have enjoyed before, so I was looking forward to a good outing and a finish to start the new year. Each lap of 12.5 miles would involve three out and backs. Normally loop events quickly lose my interest, but this one always entertains as you get to see the rest of the field multiple times on every go-round. It was great to see friends Gilbert Gray, Jackie and Al Ong, Michael and Patty Scogings, Keith Straw, and David Barnes throughout the day.
I started the first loop keeping pace with Michael, but we separated after the first four miles to follow our own rhythms. It was great to chat and relax into the run. The first two loops went by quickly, each in about 2.5 hours, with the second one slightly faster. Five hours for the first 25 miles was better than I could have hoped for. The third loop slowed after the noon hour with the sun reaching its zenith and things warming up. I deliberately slowed for the heat to around 2.75 hours to reach 37.5 miles. By the time I reached half way at 50 miles and 4 laps, 11 hours had passed. All systems were good. Even the sixth lap, despite slowing further, as expected, was good. But then it started to rain.
Donning a rain jacket I was comfortable in the intermittent downpours. I was eating enough gels and drinking plenty of Tailwind, so my energy was good and legs not too tired. Lots of pickle juice so no cramping. My feet were sore, however, perhaps because I was wearing a pair of zero-drop Altras, which I had never gone this far in before. Once the trail got muddy and traction became tentative my injured heel became severely reaggrevated to a point I could not move except to hobble. Overcompensating, my body tightened up and I lost control of my rhythm as my focus turned to managing the sharp pain. These long events always involve suffering. I can bear that, but crippling on in misery for over another thirty miles seemed counterproductive. I chose to stop after 68.5 miles to prevent further aggrevation to an already egregious injury. It was a hard decision to stop. I really wanted to finish this one, but I let my head rule my heart and chose to surrender to fight another day.
Whether my heel will ever be good enough to finish a hundred miles of trail is a big question that hangs over me. I just don't know if my foot injury will allow me to do it. But I will do what I have to to be ready for the next event in hopes that I can exceed the threshold that has been holding me back for months.