Sunday, February 10, 2013

Delirium 24 - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I've had 6 hours of driving to think about this race . . . and I'm still not sure what to think!  But the title to the old Clintwood movie is a pretty good jumping off point.  This race had all three: the good, the bad and the ugly.

There was a lot to like about this race!  But there was also a lot of problems . . . some were the race's problem and some were mine.  But some of these problems lead me to a mental place of complete ugliness!

The race is held in Bluffton, SC . . . southern South Carolina just outside of  Hilton Head Island.  The area has tons of restaurants, bars, shopping and golf courses.  Just a great destination!  After a 6+ hour drive I checked into my hotel ($65 and it was a NICE room at the Quality Inn!) the went to find race course!

The course was awesome! You run on a mulch / pine needle greenway around a large shopping center and the Bluffton city offices.  Honestly I only saw two roots along the whole 1.7 mile loop!!!  No kidding!!  Also the route takes you by several small, beautiful lakes.  And it was flat!!  Normally this would be great!

But I have given up running on trails - the uneven footing cause hip pain as does sharp turns.  This course has both . . . in spades!  The race website clearly said it was a trail . . . but I missed that!  I thought it was going to be paved!  About 4/10th of a mile was paved!!

I considered not even starting this race.  But I had spent over $125 for the race registration and had driven over six hours to get there so I decided to give it a go!  That is a VERY expensive race for me to enter!!

Friday night they had packet pickup at a huge, brand new bowling center in the complex!  Very nice and the race schwag was awesome!!  You got a really nice hoodie sweatshirt, a super tech beanie, a pint glass plus a medal if you either run 85 miles or run the full 24 hours (I did neither!).  Top drawer schwag for sure!
Amber and Jon

I hooked up with Jon and Amber Shingleton at packet pickup and then the three of us went to dinner.

I have no idea why . . . but the race started a 10am.  Seemed like a lot of wasted time!  But the race started right on time.

After four hours on the soft, twisty trail, my hip started burning deep inside . . . and it was sort of "squishing."  The pain wasn't terrible but I worried that I might be causing damage.  By 3:30 PM I posted on Facebook that I was done!

I was REALLY pissed off . . . at this turn of events, at the trail but most of all at myself for even starting this race.  I started walking / limping and tried to decide what to do.  I said I was going to quit but see if I could make a few slow walking laps.  I promised myself when it started hurting more I would quit.

I slowly walked (really limped) several laps trying to decide when to quit and runners were passing me like there was no tomorrow!  I was just waiting on the increasing pain . . . but it never came.  Instead it slowly started burning less!  At maybe 5 pm I restarted running again.  I found if I walked the first half of the course where it was more soft and twisty then I could run at least most of the second half.  My spirits picked up along with my speed.

To me this was one of the really good parts.  I was SURE I would have to drop . . . but I worked through the issues and eventually things got better.  They almost always do!

I had not been keeping up with my laps.  I knew I had fallen way off the pace of even the back of the pack . . . but I really had no idea how many miles I had covered.  So at the completion of my next lap, I ask where I stood and they told me I had done 19 laps . . . about 32 miles!  Huh?  No way!!  I told the lady I thought there must be a mistake . . . that I couldn't have gone that far.  She re-checked the history and assured me the 19 laps was correct.  The next lap I brought it up again and she assured me I had now completed 20 laps!

Talk about lifting my spirits!!!!

I was supercharged!  I remembered back to past 24s.  I realized that I was well above my best effort ever!  I turned more and more laps  . . . feeling great!  Totally excited!

But there were also some negative thoughts around my mind.  It was 8:30 and I was hungry!!  I wanted some food!  Real food!  And there had not been any!  The race had put out the usual (chips, pretzels, gummy bears, cookies and some soup, etc) but no real food!  I started thinking about the race entry fee of $125 and getting madder and madder!  Yea . . . we got some great schwag but they should have cut back some on that stuff and fed us!!!

When you're running, sometimes you just get a thought in your head and it just stays there and grows out of proportion.

So I stopped at McDonalds (on the course just 1/4 mile before the start/finish) and got a double cheeseburger.  Unfortunately I had waited too long for food and I got nauseous.  And I started getting cold.  More negative thoughts!

I was slowing down now and I was cold but I had completed 27 laps . . . about 46 miles!  At about 10:30 I passed the start/finish and asked them how many laps I had completed just to check my count.  I was totally shocked when they told me I had only done 21 laps (36 miles!!)  They had found a mistake one of the lap counters had made and had adjusted the lap totals of those affected.

WTF!!  I didn't doubt that the new number was probably correct, but this just sent me into a tail spin.  I just mentally folded.  Totally.  All motivation just left me.  Talk about a negative frame of mind!

I did two more laps and decided to take a nap.  Slept 2 1/2 hours.  Got up and did one more lap.  But my heart just wasn't in it.  I wasn't hurting.  I simply didn't care anymore.  So I quit.

Actually I'm glad I did.  This just shows me how much one's mental state of mind matters.  Races like this are really run in your mind much more than with your body.

Yea . . . shit was happening.  Things outside of my control.  But I didn't keep my head in the game.  I quit at about  3 am.  I wasn't hurting all that much and I still had energy in the tank.  This was the "ugly" part and TOTALLY my fault!

I had 7 hours left until the 10 am race end and I could have added a bunch of miles!  Walking at 3 MPH (steady hiking pace) would have taken me to 62 miles.  And I would have gotten a medal.  But I didn't.  I could have taken all this negative stuff and turned it around into POSITIVE MOTIVATION.  A reason to kick ass!  Maybe even gone further than 62!

But I didn't.

I was by myself through all this . . . walking alone.  Maybe if I had been with another runner, they could have helped me through this.  All you pacers out there . . . this is a lesson for you to file away.  When shit happens, find a way to turn it into "Shinola!"

I learned something at Delirium.  That's important!

Here are some pictures from the race:
A lot of runners were "Xing" out there!!

Ray K showing those young whipper-snappers how it's done!

Eventual First Place Overall Female Karen Heitner
Lee Kelly getting it done!  He ran a sub 40 10k at another race BEFORE he started Delirium!

My buddy Paul Heckert and me at the start!  Paul killed it out there!

One of the three lakes

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Littleton, North Carolina
World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.