Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Waldo 100k Race Report

Where's Waldo? Well, he's not hanging out in my GI tract because I emptied it on the course and didn't find him there. I didn't realize that when I added the Waldo 100k to my bucket list of races, that I would literally need a bucket during the race for all the puking I'd do, but perhaps that was short-sighted of me. Based on previous long-distance race experience, a bucket should be on my mandatory gear list. When will I learn??!

I can make light of it now because I fully get that in the grand scheme of things, having a shitty race doesn't matter, like, at all. Still, I'm disappointed. My training for Waldo went really well and I'm healthy and uninjured for the first time in years so I was expecting good things. Maybe even great things if I'm being completely honest.

Since joining the SWAP (Some Work, All Play) training group in February and working with coach David Roche, I've been logging some of the biggest mileage weeks I've ever done and instead of getting sick or worn down like I have in the past with larger training loads, I'm feeling strong, fit and happy and that in itself is a huge accomplishment.

Earlier in the year, I made the conscious decision to race less with the hope that I would enjoy racing more. I only did one 50k event (Slay the Dragon) leading up to Waldo and I can see now that that was probably a mistake. While my stomach held for 50k at Slay the Dragon, it was starting to go off by the end of the race which is about the same point things went sideways at Waldo.

And I think I took for granted that I didn't have any nutrition issues on my long training runs. But then again, I never do! It seems there's something about racing that triggers a seriously leaky gut and I have yet to find a solution for it. The other possibility is that I've developed a psychosomatic aversion to racing that manifests itself in severe and prolonged vomiting episodes in events over 50k. Either way, it blows...chunks - ha, ha.

Race week was dreamy. I slept well, ate well and even gave up beer (mostly). I couldn't have asked for a better lead up to a big race. I was so excited to run this one. Having seen a lot of the course beforehand, I knew it was totally up my alley - non-technical, cruise-y singletrack trails with lots of climbing. It's like a roller coaster made for running.

The first half of the race flew by uneventfully. I was pacing well and staying on top of my food and hydration. I had a minor fall descending the rocky summit of Mt. Fuji leading to a bloodied knee and shoulder which the aid station volunteers wanted to clean up, but I politely refused because A. it didn't hurt and B. I thought it looked badass.

My only photo from Waldo
Coming into the Charlton Lake aid station at mile 32, I was on track for a sub-12 hour finish (my goal) and sitting comfortably in 4th place amongst the women. Then I started getting queasy. I decided to slow my pace considerably in the hope that I could settle my stomach, but it was too late. Within half an hour of leaving the aid station, the barf fest started and the party didn't stop until I rolled into the finish many looooong hours of slow walking - and puking - later. (Total time 14:22, 12th woman.)

It was an absolutely miserable 8+ hour period of my life that I would love to get back. I probably should have dropped out earlier but quitting is no fun either and I was pretty sure I could make the cut-offs even in my compromised state. Plus, I really needed another trucker hat for my collection...

Fortunately, there were some lighter moments. In a failed attempt to win a booby prize (not real boobies), I decided to go for the Show Us Your Waldo (also not what you're thinking) contest which is a spirit award voted on by the aid stations. Lacking any real talent, the best I could come up with was to Prancercise in and out of the aid stations. Yes, Prancercise. Based on the blank - and often confused - stares I received, it seems not a lot of people are familiar with Prancercising. If you're one of them, I suggest you check out the video below. It's kinda awesome! (But didn't win me the prize.)

I also met my doppelganger at Waldo and she's a lovely wife and mother of one from Bend, Oregon, and her husband and daughter were very excited to point out that not only do we bear an uncanny resemblance and race day fashion sense, but apparently we also run the same and share a fondness for stopping to pets dogs at aid stations.

And then there were the amazing ladies running the med tent at the finish who were able to give me a wonderful prescription strength anti-nausea medication that fixed me up well enough that within a couple of hours of staggering across the line (with Dora by my side!) I was up and actually able enjoy some of the post-race festivities that Rainshadow Running is known for - like pizza!

It was sweet how many other racers who had seen me struggling on the course stopped by after the race to tell me they were happy that I finished. Apparently, I looked as bad as I felt out there!? This sense of community created out on the trails - in good times and bad - is one of the best things about ultra racing.

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