I had just gotten off course twice in the last hour, it was noon, my heart was pounding, I was puking, it was hot, still a big climb away from the aid station. I was calculating: time to recover at aid station + who knows the conditions ahead + wanting to finish before 9 pm (we started at 7 am) = might as well stop now = where do I get a ride? One hour before I was chasing the guy in front of me and I was giddy at the thought of a sub-12 for a 100K!
I quit a race yesterday – after about 30 miles. It was the first time I quit a foot race. It’s not like I didn’t make a cut-off or got pulled out by race personnel. I was plunging to exhaustion and was going to end up in a helicopter flying to the Santa Barbara ER (if only there would have been a spot for a helicopter to land in that dense brush and savannah of the Santa Ynez mountains). Quitting was right. I’m grateful I came back in one piece and I am satisfied with the way I handled every situation that arose. Although I can’t pinpoint what went wrong exactly I can definitely see the chain of events that led to quitting.
Since the first time I ran an ultra in the Marin Headlands the nature there became very special to me. Living in Los Angeles, which is a desert with a little water, the coast north of the Golden Gate in contrast is lush and moist, the vistas are terrific and the trails are well maintained.
I like to run two ultras there: the North Face Endurance Challenge (NFEC) in December and Miwok 100k in May. I didn’t report on the last NFEC last December – the weather was harsh (it rained so much – sometimes by the ocean it felt like receiving buckets of water in the face. I ran a sub 10 though and that’s a Western States 100 qualifier!). It was still a fun adventure.
After Miwok this year I was looking forward to running Pikes Peak Marathon but I was also looking for an opportunity to accumulate the points to qualify for the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) in Chamonix, France, in 2013. I wanted to run the AC100 but it was sold out very early and they don’t seem to want too many runners on the course since they don’t have a waiting list. It’s already sold out for 2013 by the way…
A friend told me that the Rio del Lago 100 miler was a qualifier (I had to get 3 or more points before the end of the year and I would rather run in California). 2011 NFCE gave me 2 points, Miwok also two points (which seems abnormal but that is an issue that I will examine later) and a runner needs to accumulate 7 points in 3 races. Too afraid that it would sell out I registered right away. According to the web site, it looked like a very feasible 100 mi run with reasonable elevation gain (2700m I think) and a generous cut-off time (34 hrs: what could go wrong? I could probably walk the whole thing and qualify for UTMB). The scenery looked nice and I heard that the course shares some trails with the WS100… legendary stuff, right?