I found my friend Kathleen at the start, and we shared the first hour or so - swapping stories and enjoying the trail. I was amazed at how effortlessly she ran on the flat trails, while I was struggling to keep pace on anything that wasn't uphill or downhill. I knew she was in for a great race, and ultimately I let her go on the flats as I settled into my pace.
(High Five with Kathleen in the early miles, photo by Bob Gill)
Even with my best efforts to hydrate well, just past mile 20, I could feel my body shut-down. I was bone-dry and overheating...I had stopped sweating. I was able to keep a good pace through 25 miles, but I was literally cooking as my body could no longer cool itself. At the aid stations, I would cool myself down by pouring water over my head, but that would last about a mile before I was dry again.
I had to walk - I was too overheated if I ran. With Meghan at the race, I felt guilty with even thinking about dropping out...so I just kept walking. Folks passed me in droves, and I kept walking. Folks asked me 'are you really sponsored by Inov8?' as they easily passed by - gone well before I was able to respond with 'I think I'm representing Inov8 just as well by not quitting when the going gets tough'. I didn't feel tough. I wanted to cry, but knew I had no fluids. I dry heaved a few times, but luckily everything I was taking in stayed down. I stopped at every stream crossing to throw water over my body.
(One of the infamous water crossings, photo by Mike Bur)
In hindsight, I think I learned that I am not someone who acclimates to heat easily. It takes me a few days of sweating before I can perform in heat...so racing on the first 'hot day' of the year was just never a possibility. I think I did everything right (fueling, hydration, pacing) or at least to the best of my ability, so this result was inevitable. It was a rough day, but I survived.
Unfortunately, Meghan also suffered in the heat, and missed the mile 38 cutoff time. She is determined to finish a 50 miler, so this hasn't derailed her.
(Meghan, enjoying the early miles, photo by Bob Gill)