Monday, October 24, 2016

Fallout: Coming Down to Earth

With a title including Fallout, you might think I'd be talking about the post-apocalyptic video game series. If you did, you'd be wrong because the apocalypse has not happened...yet. However, it is about a 'post' event chronicling.

Let me take you back in time to just after Boulder Field. Around that time, I decided to do some schedule shifting. I opted on the weekend of November 5-6 to do a 50K called Fire on the Mountain in MD as opposed to traveling to Nashville for one that same weekend. I had done the last FOTM and loved it. This year it is coming back as an out and back as opposed to a point to point. I'd say this year's version is going to be a beast. As a result, of this decision, I still wanted a 50 miler before FOTM as part of my Brazos Bend prep.

Following some internet searches, airfare checks and all around logistically number crunching, I decided to fly out to Colorado and run the 50M distance at Indian Creek Fifties. My trip was going to be a 4 day weekend with the race on the 2nd day followed by camping/hiking the remainder of the time. To say I was excited was an understatement. I was very much looking forward to racing in the mountains and hiking. Not to mention, sitting at a campground reading.

All was going smoothly until the day before my traveling began. In fact, it started right not long after I had officially registered. I had waited in the event work threw me a curveball causing me to not go. Apparently, I was naive to think one wasn't coming. Around an hour before my workday ended, one plunked me in the head. Pretty much, a get it done ASAP situation. Considering, I was going to be remote as I traveled it made the work project tough. It set me into full on anxiety attack. Before it swallowed me whole, I left the office telling myself, I'll somehow get it done as I traveled. Still, it freaked me out and on my ride home, my head was thinking of the ways, I can make traveling easier. I opted to just get home and finish it remotely. At home, I can use two screens which really was needed to complete my task. Despite getting it done timely, I was having a tough time calming myself from the anxiety. In fact, it lasted into my attempts of trying to sleep before I had to wake up at 4am to be driven to the airport.

On the plus side, I had my bag packed a week in advance!

Traveling out to Denver was easy. And the first 4-5 hours was good after landing. However, to cut to the chase, I ended up getting altitude sickness. I had not expected it considering I'd been around and above the elevation before. To spare you, I ended up having to bail on the race and came home the next day.

In short, it was a wasted trip. My options were limited. I could have stuck it out with possibly a headache the whole trip (as I still had one on the day of my return). That was something, I didn't want to risk. How much fun would be to just camp and not hike? To me, not much. I was not looking to spend the time in a movie theater. In looking at flights, I couldn't try an extra day because no Sunday flights were available.

Did it stink to not get the trip, I wanted? Absolutely. That said, I do aim to go back out there. I will just add extra time to the beginning in case, it happens again.

On the plus side, I had a wonderful Sunday hiking in the morning with Peg in the Wissahickon and exploring Tyler State Park in the afternoon. Plus, on Monday, we saved a couple of hundred dollars on paint for the house because I was home!

Still, my schedule was now out of balance. I saw the 50 miler as an important distance to complete. I knew I had the option to race Stone Mill on Nov 12th. However, I felt that would be a little too close to Brazos Bend. Thankfully, the race directors of the Batona Trail 50 allowed me to join the new 'Fall' date on Nov 5th. Unfortunately, that knocks out FOTM. In an attempt to have cake and eat it too, I looked for a 50K this past weekend (Oct 22-23). All those close ones were full. However, a little out of my usual range was the High Bridge Ultra down in Pamplin, VA. Being able to register day of, helped keep it in mind. However, the 5 1/2 hour drive did not appeal. Especially since I would have needed to finish and drive straight home after the 50K. For some reason, I thought it was doable.

Reality set in Friday that it was not a wise choice for me due to the timing. It was going to push my limits driving. Wiser heads prevailed and I abandoned the idea. However, I let myself approach the idea of racing the 50K through the week. So for the second week in a row, I was not doing something I initially told myself I was. Granted we are talking two different sets of circumstances. Still, this was enough to get me really off balance. I immediately lost motivation to do a long run. I really did not want to run a long run solo in the area I always run. Factor in the 24 degree temp drop from Friday to Saturday and it just stacked up. More or less, I was becoming my own worst enemy. I wanted to do something but nothing appealed to my need of being long.

Denver Fallout was coming to a head!

Being so far down the rabbit hole, I didn't want to even socialize and missed the street block party.

Later in the evening, I took a look at Sunday's area events and noticed one that was a longer race that was cheap. Hotfoot 8.8. It had a 5K, 8.8K and 8.8M. I told myself I could get 12 in easily if I did the 8.8M. At that point, anything over ten felt uninspiring solo. Likely because it was running in my head within the framework of my usual local runs. Then, before bed after I decided to give it a shot, I realized if I did the 8.8 a second time I'd get 17.6 right there. Add my warmup and tack on a hair more, I could hit 20 miles. Mentally that would be a step in the right direction.

Sunday morning, I managed to get myself together and get out the door to the race. After registering, I went for my warm-up and got hit with some nasty wind. It was enough to make me question being able to run fast during the race.  Luckily, during the race, I was able to keep it together. I managed a modest pace considering the trouble with the wind. (5:44 avg) It was the fastest pace in any of the distances. Upon finishing, I quickly threw on a shirt and regular shorts (over my racing shorts) to head out for a second loop. Wind wasn't as bad during the second loop but the hills did suck a second time. (Oh, I neglected to mention this course was hilly. It was hillier than some trail ultras.)

In the end, I got my 20 miles in. Whew. I would not have been able to do it without the existence of the Hotfoot 8.8 race. On top, of the race serving as an avenue to get my 20 miles in, it is a top notch event. There was a beer garden and hot food. Amazingly, there was still eggs after my second loop! I missed awards but it was worth it. I got to get a few glasses of PA Dutch Birch Beer too. I didn't quite tap the keg of it. In some ways, the event because it was hosted by the Fort Washington Fire Dept 88, reminded me of the Jimmy D 5K. It was such a good feeling to have and doesn't let me forget how much the Jimmy D race meant to me.

These 20 miles while not the 50K (or even the 50M) I had expected to race, I feel much better going into Batona that I would have without them. And ultimately, I feel this keeps me on track for a good showing at Brazos Bend.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Tragedy of Errors

Sure, most people like to say Comedy of Errors but I'm not here.

Around a month ago, I had begun looking at racing a 50 miler in Colorado around an hour from Denver. It was called the Indian Creek Fifties and seemed like a perfect fit for me. Elevation, climbing and a new challenge. Coming off of Boulder Field 100K, I felt this would be a great race for me to do. I started to make arrangements with hotel, camping, rental car and flights.

Plan was fly out early October 14th and return home late on October 17th giving me around 4 days in the area. Day one would be working remotely in a hotel. Day two would be the 50 mile race followed by camping. Day three would be hiking in the Front Range and camping. Day four would be downtown Denver.

Everything was in place except registration in case work threw me a curve ball. Both my managers were out so I had to work remotely meaning anything I couldn't get done on the 13th had to be done. Well, an hour after I register on the 13th, slammed with work that I need two monitors for. This sent me into an anxiety attack. It was 4:30 and I NEEDED to make changes in our system ASAP. I left the office in a panicked state. On my bike ride home, I began to think about how best to make it all work and begun to settle down. However, damage was done, I was having an anxiety attack I could not quell physically. My body was racing. Even hours after I managed to make the changes at the home office. Sleep became hard. Not good for a 4am trip to the airport.

At least I got right through security at the airport on the 14th.

Now while waiting for the flight I got to check some emails and saw I received 3 emails from the RD of the race. Most notably, a course change and the removal of one major aid station. Oh noes. I didn't plan on carrying fluids for 13 miles between aid stations. Even though I had a pack with me had I needed it. Looks like I was going to. All of this information was not on the website and nor FB page.

Flight ended up being delayed by 20 minutes but arrived on time. Early in fact but the gate was occupied so we had to wait on the runway.

Light rail travel was easy to Stapleton. Car pick-up went as smooth as possible. In fact, best rental car experience ever. From there, I headed to Walmart to get some camping supplies like tent, sleeping bag and a chair. I was using my Rest in Peace 5K winnings for that stuff. I also bought some provisions. Why not do it at once? Then before going to the hotel, I stopped at Boulder Running Company for Tailwind and Blocs. From there it was easy check in at the hotel around 11:30.

My room at the Courtyard Tech Center was smooth and it had a real lovely courtyard that the room opened up to. I unpacked and got my gear together for race morning. Mixed up Tailwind. Split up Shot Blocs. All set....

Then....a headache. I didn't think much of it at first but after an hour it wasn't going away. I was losing my appetite. Then, I got nauseous. It hit me slowly but surely...altitude sickness. Advil didn't help with the headache. Ugh. I was hoping a few hours would make it pass since I was surprised by it considering I had spent time at 5000 and 6000 before, Quick trip to Target for Nyquil and Pepto Bismol. It is now 4pm local time. I took both and then more or less slept for the remainder of the evening. The nausea settled and the headache improved some. It was good to not feel like death considering I was coughing up bad stuff prior to the Pepto. Still the headache lingered. Later half of the night I was a bit unsettled.

Still had time to pass before my 4am wake up for the 50 mile. As it got closer, my head still was out of it. Yeah, I think I'm done. But I opt to go run around the hotel for a few laps. See how that would feel. Didn't feel good so I knew racing was out. Especially since the race was to climb up 3000ft in elevation. Now I had to figure out, do I stay until Monday with things or go home. I checked Sunday flights on Southwest in the event I could use one day to check it out. No Sunday flights. It was all or nothing. I was leaning towards cutting my losses and going home.

I did a check of any park nearby and found one. I drove to Cherry Creek State Park. Parked and went running. It felt nice to physically do something but I wasn't all that right. I got about 2 miles in total and during that effort my headache started to come back. That sealed it. Home.

If I couldn't do anything physical like hike or run, the trip was not going mean anything other than sitting at a campsite by myself. Sure camping solo was part of the plan but when not feeling good and not able to do the things I planned. Yeah, it makes sense to not be there. Luckily, I was able to reschedule my Monday departure and pay only 27 more. I got 24 of that back from cancelling camping.

I drove the rental car back to the place expecting to pay the original cost or close to it. Amazingly, they did only charge me for the one of 3 days I reserved the rental. That was good. Oh, before that I returned all the camping gear. Not losing as much as possible. Flight was a wash and Rental was 2/3 cheaper. Making the race the only lousy waste of cash here.

Since dropping off the car, I also had the pleasure of just missing the light rail to the airport. Fine because the next was only 15 minutes later. However, once I got through security, I got a message saying my flight was delayed until 3:35. It was 11:15am. Ugh.

For the record, I still feel a tad out of it. Nausea is gone and I've eaten a little but I feel exhausted with a headache.

So in the end, I spent some cash for a memorable experience that was not the happy one I wanted. And in fact, cut short by more than two days.

Oddly enough, I think if the work had hit before I registered, it all might have been different.

Luck of the draw. Or not.

I'll be back to this area. While I didn't get to what I wanted, I know I still want to experience it. Some places have to be treated differently.