Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sawtooth review

Well it's been nearly 2 weeks since I ran Sawtooth.  I told myself I'd wait a while before blogging about it so that I'd have some time to let it sink in.  Here's what I can say about it:  It's really hard!

There's no doubt about it, 100 miles is a long way to go on foot.  Sawtooth was by far the most difficult thing I've ever done.  I have this strange mixture of pride and disappointment concerning the race.  I'm proud that I finished, that I ran the whole time and for the most part kept my spirits up.  But I'm also disappointed that I ran slower than what I thought I was capable of.

Concerning the aspects of the race that I'm proud of;  like I said, I'm very pleased that I pretty much didn't stop.  I don't think I took longer than 10 minutes at any aid station.  I never really stopped and pouted or felt defeated.  I never once questioned myself if I would make it all the way.  I was confident that I would always locate the strength I needed.

Running Sawtooth was a continuous series of peaks and valleys, especially after about mile 40 or so.  It was then that things started to get tough.  I'd slow down, my legs would be screaming, my feet would be screaming (whoever said you can't feel more than one pain at a time has never ran 100 miles!)  But suddenly, my strength would return and I'd be running again.  I never knew how long either episode would last, but my mindset was to take advantage of the good stretches and use them and not to worry about the bad stretches and just work through them.  The key was always to keep moving forward.

I think priority number one for any 100 miler and especially for a person's first 100 miler is to finish.  First and foremost the goal is to finish.  I never lost sight of that goal.

However, it's in that priority number two that my disappointment lies, finishing time.  I thought my window would be anywhere from 27 hours to 32 hours.  People have said for Sawtooth you pretty much take your Voyageur time and multiply it by 3.  That would've put me in that window I had set for myself.  I hit the 50 mile point in about 13 hours, which was right on time, I still should've been in that window, and by mile 60 or so, I was feeling really good.  Gregg and I had by that time established a rhythm and I was having a great race.  I was moving up on people and began having thoughts of finishing high.

But at about mile 70 or so, the wheels really fell off.  Going through Crosby-Manitou was an especially difficult challenge as the climbs through the first half of that section were relentless.  I pretty much walked the first 2/3 of that entire section and starting losing a lot of time.  There would be a lot more walking to follow.

Most of my difficulties came with my quads being so incredibly sore.  I don't know what it was, probably the downhills that beat them up, but I've never had soreness like that in my quads before.  Also, my feet were really hurting.  Even now, nearly two weeks later, my toes on my right foot are a bit numb and I have a very tender spot on the outside of my left foot.

So will I do it again?  The answer to that question is easy: Yes!  It was an amazing experience.  It was absolutely everything I thought it would be but better.  The course was beautiful, the aid station volunteers were friendly and helpful and of course my crew and pacers, my friends, were perfect.  I simply couldn't have done it without them.

I did discover some things.  I did find out.  I gave it everything I had, but at the same time, I know I have more.