Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Let's Go DNF A Race!

This is not a sandbagging post. This is not a pessimistic post. This is a REALISTIC post. I'm going to a race this weekend to DNF (term means "Did Not Finish"). It's not a maybe, it's a definitely. If it was a goal race that had been all of my focus for the last 6 months, the story would be different. But that's not really where I slotted this race in my life, instead focusing on my first 100 miler attempt 2 months ago, so you accept what comes with those choices.

Gorge Waterfalls 100K is this weekend. I've run the 50K before, two years ago, but I really wanted to go and see how far I could get on this other course. So I signed up back in December, knowing fully well I also didn't know how Rocky Raccoon 100 would go at the beginning of February. And that I didn't know how I would feel after.

How has life been on the other side of my first time running for over 24 hours? Tiring. Stressful. Like a half inflated soccer ball. Drop me, and I thud down onto one flat side. I've not recovered fast from that race. And I've been pulled in a couple directions being 100% in when I need to be with my family and being 100% in for my participants when I need to be for the races I produce.

My last two runs a couple days ago were the first time I didn't feel like a heavy weight was part of me while I ran. And I felt fine afterward. So I'm finally coming back.

But Gorge Waterfalls has TIGHT time cutoffs for my back of the pack pace. The 100K is a 16 hour cutoff. I've known about it all along, and I'm grateful Race Director James agreed to do his incremental cutoffs based on consistent splits rather than positive splits. Why even look at the race? Because James puts on stellar races, although yes, races for fast people. Because this race course is still my favorite course I've run.

16 hour 100k cutoff means an 8 hour cutoff for 50K. I finished the 50K out there in 2012 in 8:30. I've only had one trail 50K faster than 8 hours, at a much easier race. My 50K split at Rocky Raccoon 100 was about 7:45, but again, that course is much faster for me than Gorge will be.

Add in a 1500 ft climb and then descent at mile 3.

Add in technical terrain.

Add in a 4 am start with 3 hours in the dark. Add in incremental cutoffs. Add in wet weather in Portland all week and potentially race day on Sunday.

So my plan? Yes, DNF.

But my hope?

  • To get through the incremental cutoff at mile 5.9. 
  • To get through the incremental cutoff at mile 12.9. 
  • And to get through the incremental cutoff at mile 21.8. A 15:30 pace through all that. I can do that at a hard racing pace if everything goes great. If things don't go great, I'll be pulled earlier than mile 21.8.
  • So I'm going there to plan to race my heart out to mile 21.8, then hope and pray to hold on enough to the turnaround at 50K in. I would really like to see all the course one-way.

I considered not going to the race, especially with the stress and lack of sleep for directing my next race one week later. But for one thing, I committed to friends, verbally and financially, to go. For another thing, I keep reminding myself that any mile on the trail is a good thing. Whether it's 6 miles, 13 miles, 22 miles, 31 miles, or more. It's hard to keep coming back there at times.

So let's go see some freaking amazing waterfalls and a beautiful course! And let's go DNF a race!

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