Tuesday, October 1, 2013

And nobody finishes

And nobody finishes

 This is the story of the 100 mile race that nobody finished; the race that got cancelled because of Mother Nature.

For my 2nd 100, I trained extremely hard. I ran 2 50’s within 2 weeks of each other. At my 2nd 50; The Siskiyou Out back, I kept thinking I was not going to make a cut off and get pulled, it never happened. I came in with 37 minutes to spare. I remember talking with another runner at the finish about the idea of getting a DNF (did not finish.) He said I would eventually get one if I keep up with the sport. I simply said, “Well I didn’t get one today!” Little did I know it would happen at the 100 in which I was training for. 

I had been watching the weather for the area in which Mountain Lakes was to take place, Olallie Lake and the Clackamas Ranger station up on Mt. Hood. The weather changed from raining to pleasant to finally a major storm that was rolling into the area; heavy winds, heavy rain and flooding. My mom thought I would get Pneumonia. I prepared the best that I could with my clothing.  I thought what I chose would be sufficient. I chose enough, adequate clothing for the ½ way mark. Of course I never made it that far. 

When my husband and I got to the race start on Friday evening, I was already cold. I decided that I would wear my long pants instead of my Capri pants for the race start. I also had on a long sleeve shirt, my garbage back that I made, I switched from a light running coat to a thicker running coat with a hood, I had gloves and little hottie hand warmers. Unfortunately, little hotties don’t work as well when it’s raining hard. 

At the race pre-briefing on Saturday morning, oh it’s true; we only heard “blah, blah, blah!” because we all went the wrong way when the race got underway. We heard, “wrong way!” and “I hope this isn’t an omen!” Kind of was. The race got started on a fire type road for about 3 miles. It was raining pretty hard already. I was already getting warm, so I unzipped my coat a bit and took off my gloves. When I finally got to the trail, the sun was beginning to rise. The trail was flooded, standing water everywhere and it was cold. The rest of the race on the trail remained that way, some areas worst than others. Some areas it was hard to get good footing with the flooding and very slippery rocks.  
The race also went up on a cliff and it was so windy. The sound the wind made was quite scary. I was afraid
of a landslide, the rocks overhead falling, a tree falling. The race went on another gravel road, between miles 5.3 and 11. It was nice to chat with a few people and it was a nice downhill. But I was starting to get cold already. I put my hood on and it helped a little, but my arms were cold. I had so much food with me that I really didn’t stop very long at the aid-stations, long enough to get a drink, even though I also had plenty of water with me.

Between 11 and 20 miles, I was getting really miserable, cold, upset. Everyone else looked just as miserable. I saw a gal at the 20 mile aid-station in tears and I felt bad for her and I sympathized. I really didn’t stop at the 20 mile aid-station, long enough to give them my number. I just turned around and went back as this was an out and back section.  There were huge puddles on the trail and I remember one lady saying that our body temperatures drop 3 degrees each time we stepped in them. I believed it. A lot of times, I felt like I was wading in a cold pool, where is my goggles? I ended up putting my extra socks on my hands, over my running gloves, they were so cold. My feet previously felt numb, but they felt warmer at the moment. The sock gloves helped a little, but they too got soaked and I was cold again. 

Sometime after the 20 mile aid-station, I knew that I was never going to make it to the 54 mile aid-station where my drop bag with my warm and dry clothes were and my pacer would be waiting for me. It was taking so long to get to the 26 mile mark, the start and finish, back where my cabin was (7 ½ hours.)  I calculated that I would not get to the 54 mile aid-station until 9 PM. I’m certain that being really cold was negatively affecting my performance. I had no extra clothes, my husband had the cabin key and my cell phone. I was screwed. I prayed about things and knew I was defeated, too cold, shaking. When I got back to the 26 mile station, I talked with someone who told me to warm up in the cabin with the other runners. B, but after 40 minutes, I was still shaking. Someone said that I was done and I agreed. A lot of other runners dropped at this same aid-station. I spoke with the sweeper who told me that the best clothing for this type of weather is ski clothes and that is what he had on. He said that most of the runners today just had on running clothes. Another runner who also DNF’d gave me an extra dry shirt to keep and I put that on.

I felt horrible about the idea that my pacers were driving up and waiting for me and I had no way of getting a hold of them. One man said he was going up to the 54 mile mark and he would get a message out for me.

Someone found me an extra cabin key and I put my husband’s clothes on and started a fire and waited for my family. I shocked them when I walked out of the cabin, they couldn’t believe that I wasn’t running. My poor girls had to drive a total of 6 hours that day. On the way home, we almost got hit by 2 cars and we witnessed a landslide occurring.  

When we finally got cell phone reception on the way home, I called one of my pacers; luckily she had been watching my results and never left Portland. She said she would call my other pacer, who had left her house. Bummer.

When I got home, I remember telling my husband as we were getting ready for bed, “I think they should call off the race, I’m worried about everyone!” Well, they had about an hour prior. The rain and wind had picked up, trees were falling (one fell on a car), it was starting to snow and they were losing communication between aid-stations. Some runners made it to 38 miles and DNF’d, some to 54 miles and some to 71 miles. But in the end, race had to be cancelled, it was the right choice. 

I also want to say that I would suggest this race to anyone thinking of running it next year. It was well organized, the race directors and volunteers did an excellent job and the likelihood of another disastrous weather system hitting on race day is not likely to happen. It may even be sunny and warm; the race is after all in September. 

For myself? I learned firsthand that there really is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.  I also learned that I definitely like the hot desert races a lot better.

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