Rocky Raccoon 100 DNF, In Summary

On February 14, 2008, in Uncategorized, by Meghan

How really to summarize such a life experience in a succinct manner? This is my effort (I will write another post or two about some specific details in the next several days.):

I trained well for RR100. I was quite fit, physically. I was prepared, mentally. I had a solid nutrition plan and race plan. My taper and last-minute preparations went smoothly, all except for a crazy snowstorm that almost prevented us from leaving home. All systems were very much a go.

My time goals for the race were to:
-just plain finish,
-finish under 20 hours, and
-finish in 18:45.

My other goals for the race were to:
-have a lot of fun,
-run mentally tough the entire time,
-stay physically able the entire time, and
-place as one of the top women.

My nutrition plan was to:
-drink nuun freely;
-supplement electrolytes with E-caps as necessary;
-eat 200-300 calories per hour in Powergels, Gu, Sharkies, cashews, and bananas; and
-adjust my nutrition as conditions warranted.

My race plan was to:
-run the first lap (20 miles) in 3:15;
-run each subsequent lap roughly 15 minutes slower than the last one, for a finishing time of 18:45;
-never sit down;
-never stop for more than 1 minute in an aid station; and
-readjust my race plan to my other time goals if I needed to.

The first 73 miles of the race went so unbelieveably smooth and according to plan that it was almost ridiculous. I ran 3:10-ish for my first lap. I ran about 3:31 for my second lap. I ran about 3:47 for my third lap. I was very close to my predicted splits. I ran as the first, second, or third girl for the entire 73 miles. I was solidly the second girl at mile 73. I had picked up my pacer at mile 60, and I was staying solid with his help and encouragement. My nutrition was seemingly right on throughout the race. I was drinking nuun happily. I was taking E-caps about every 2 hours in the beginning, every hour during the heat of the day, and every 2 hours once night came around. All of my calories were going down perfectly and in the right amounts. I went through the aid stations like lightning, thanks to my crew and the aid station volunteers.

Running 73 miles was physcially uncomfortable, of course. However, the discomfort was expected, and I feel that I dealt with it perfectly. I reminded myself to stay positive by talking, smiling, and laughing with other runners, my crew, and the aid station volunteers. I never let the physical pain make me mentally weak. Not for even one moment.

My downfall was that I wasn’t getting in enough liquids. My body gave me 1 clue as to what was ever-so-slowly happening, but I paid this little attention. We’re all mostly runners and fans of runners here, so I’ll speak freely about bodily functions with reference to running. I peed about 5 minutes before the race started, and then again after about 12 hours of running. This was the sign as to what was happening! I thought about this occasionally during the race, but I never thought I was becoming severely dehydrated. I was running great, I felt great, I was drinking a lot of nuun, and I was never extremely thirsty. Additionally, I wasn’t worried because I often run for extended time periods without peeing, and without becoming dehydrated (I can think of several examples of 7-9 hours of running without peeing and without detrimental effect.).

At about mile 71, I began to notice that I was having a hard time seeing. My vision became blurry and I became dizzy. I knew something was wrong, but I thought it was a caloric issue. We arrived to the mile 73 aid station and I inhaled a Gu and a whole orange while sitting in chair. I wanted to stop moving for several minutes so that my stomach could quickly absorb those calories. We headed out from the aid station, but I couldn’t run because I couldn’t see. Through my eyes, objects were blurry and bent. About a half mile later, I had to sit down because I couldn’t see to move anymore. I ate another Gu and drank some nuun, but my condition continued to quickly degrade. In the 55 degree Fahrenheit beautiful night, I began shivering violently. It was becoming clear that my race was over and I was very ill. I had to return to the aid station for help and to drop out. I couldn’t walk without the help of my pacer. Unable to see straight, shivering, and stumbling, I collapsed into a chair at the aid station. About 2 1/2 hours of rehydration later, I was able to move enough to get a truck ride out of the aid station.

I made a race-ending mistake by not listening to all of the clues that my body was giving me. I suffered some nasty, albeit only temporary, physical consequences as a result. I definitely learned a lot from the experience, mentally. I’m walking away from it not only with more knowledge, but with a fierce determination for doing it right next time.

My recovery has been fast and relatively painless. I was sore in all the usual places for the first 2 days afterwards. I was able to walk (carefully) for 1 1/2 hours on the Monday afterwards! I’ve been doing a healthy combination of rest and active recovery (walking, hiking, and biking, but no running). Now, almost 2 weeks later, my only remaining issue is a tight right hamstring.

I am mulling around with my future training and racing ideas, and I’ll let you know as those plans develop.

More to come, thanks for reading!


13 Responses to “Rocky Raccoon 100 DNF, In Summary”

  1. chelle says:

    Oof, that had to be a scary couple of hours for your pacer/sweetie. And for you too, but it sounds like your brain was probably already a little foggy for that part anyway! I’m not sure I would have clued in to the not peeing cue either. If anything I probably would have though that rather convenient! Amazing how quickly the body can go from “all systems go” to complete shut down.

  2. Thomas says:

    You can nail this one squarely onto the experience side of the equation. That sudden shut down sounds rather scary. Like Chelle, I’m sure I would not have paid any attention to the weewee clue either, I never ever do that while running (though I have yet to go past 39.3 miles). You were tearing up the course up to then, and will surely do fantastic at your next event.

  3. olga says:

    This sign is too easy to miss for anybody – I rarely pee during a day in a 100M run, only when the night comes. But I surely remember same signs of dehydration at WS-2006. Shivering is a bad one, so is the blurry vision. Had you picked it half an hour earlier, you could have set down to recover and finish, but then again, you might have been off your goal, and I saw many of fast runners not compelled to do so. You and only you would have been able to make a decision – and you did (albeit quite late). NUUN also holds in water, so if you think you dehydrated (a.k.a. did not take enough fluids, and I wonder how much you actually drank) – you might have been dehydrated with hypernatremic.

    Glad to hear you’re looking for revenge. But the first time you still might want to play with fueling and not set too high of a goal. You certainly can run super-fast, indeed!

  4. mary says:

    Meghan, your race goals and plans were great and you followed through so perfectly. I am really impressed. I am sad to hear about the relatively fast break down your body had – I can’t imagine how scary that must have been. That is good evidence and reason for having a pacer with you at that point in the race. I am glad you did not have to go through that alone. By the time I finished the VT 100 I was on the edge of being severely dehydrated and I keep thinking the next time around I will carry two bottles – one with water and one with an electrolyte drink. I think it varies so much with the weather. I am so glad you are feeling better now and understand what happened. I hope your hamstring loosens up. You’ll have another one in you soon enough.

  5. Danni says:

    This will make your impending triumph (TBD — can’t wait to see what race you choose) all the more glorious and special. Frankly, I wouldn’t have thought to drink more if I was feeling good up to that point and was drinking. I guess it’s important to pay attention to whether you’re peeing. Good to know.

  6. KendraBo says:

    Yeah, ditto Chelle again like word for word. I mean, you say your body was desperately trying to tell you something and you’re right, but… then again it was your first 100 miler and like Olga says she doesn’t pee till night time either. Gosh, you did so many things RIGHT it’s heart breaking that anything went wrong at all. Losing your vision is not good. Not good at all. You also mentioned shivers – how about nausea? Thanks for sharing all your insights with us. It’s so nice of you to do that when maybe you might have felt like just not thinking about it or whatever. In the end, I sometimes wonder, what would you really learn if you didn’t learn it the hard way? πŸ™‚ And yet I hope for smooth sailing next 100 around.

  7. Backofpack says:

    I have trouble with the peeing thing too – usually once early on in a race and that is it. Since I also have trouble balancing my hydration with my medications, it can get ugly. I can’t quite figure it out though – and I wonder about Olga’s comment – did you drink enough, but hold too much due to nuun and ecaps? Do you drink till you have to pee and hope you don’t go hyponutremic? I wonder how you know?

    You’ve also got me wondering about my trip to the ER on the way home from San Fran. I took in a lot of IV fluid – we thought dehydrated combined with bad food. Now I wonder if it could simply have been dehydration catching up with me a day later. I didn’t have the vision problem, but did have all the rest. Interesting…

  8. JeffO says:

    I never got dehydrated at Leadville, but I did go a few hours without peeing. Then I started peeing like every 20-30 minutes!
    It’s not just the hydration, it’s the electrolyte balance. It’s so hard to get it just-right when you’ve been out for so many hours.

    I’ve heard that it’s way better to err on the side of too many electrolytes and I know many veterans of dozens of 100’s who’ve told me they take e-caps every 30 minutes at night, plus sport-drink.

    I prefer all my fluids to have the same salts as healthy blood – basically 2 teaspoons of salt per quart. That’s pretty salty. Sport drinks should not be diluted – which is the predominant habit of runners.
    If you take in enough water, and you have too many salts, your body can easily wash out the excess salts.
    Olga’s Succeed link is awesome!

    Sounds like you had a fairly decent plan – but just needed more sport-drink.

    I’m certain you’re going to be one of the fastest female runners in the world, Meghan. I’m not saying that to patronize – I really mean it. All the numbers add up.

    Welcome back and hope you had a great time in TX.

    I’ll be in Moab and Death Valley the next 10 days. Not sure I’ll have any Internet for that whole time.

  9. Journey to a Centum says:

    When I run an ultra I’m like a male dog marking his territory on every bush, tree, and fire hydrant I come across. Gives new meaning to the term Pee-R.

    Thank you for the recap. I’m told the violent shaking is very common. I had it at WS and felt like I was freezing to death when it was 85 degrees.

    Face it, women are not supposed to run that far. You should probably just concentrate on knitting or something. πŸ˜‰

    Can’t wait to hear your plans. You ran a great race with a quick and unexpected ending. Keep that fitness level and find another race that will allow you to put a check mark next to a 100 miler.

  10. Bob Gentile says:

    Wow, Pretty scary at mile 73 Meghan…glad I stopped by to read this to stress me out more for my first 100(sigh) πŸ™‚

    You did so awesome up until that point and the good news like u said you have learned a lot, I look forward to following ur next 100…

    and very Happy u recovered well!!

  11. Beth says:

    Wow Meghan – I am so impressed! I think the best part about it all was that you felt so great and were running so great up until that point of 73 miles! Now you know what you need to do next time and achieving your goals then will be all the more sweeter!! GREAT JOB and glad to hear the recovery is going well. Can’t wait to hear what’s on your plate next!

  12. Meghan says:

    Happy Friday, y’all!

    Chelle- Yes, the convenience of not peeing was definitely a good thing! If my sweetie was afraid, he never let it show. He can chime in here if he wants to. πŸ™‚

    Thomas- You’re right. It’s all building into the knowledge bank for next time.

    Olga- I’m relieved to hear that I’m not the only one who goes a long time without peeing during these events. πŸ™‚ I will be posting more about my symptoms and such, so stay tuned.

    Mary- I’m glad my sweetie was with me, but I certainly didn’t want to burden him with me incapacitated! However, I’m so grateful for his help. I did some good work on my hammy yesterday, and it feels pretty good today, thanks!

    Danni- I think it’s so variable for people. Some people will pee more frequently than others. It’s all about knowing your body and observing what happens to it in training and letting that guide you through the first half of the race. And then, when you get to those unknown miles/hours in the later part of your first 100, it’s all about listening very closely to your body. This I have learned!

    Kendra- The little picture attached to your comment is so cute! I had no nausea all day! Not once. How lovely is that? πŸ˜‰

    Michelle- Yours’ and Olga’s question is one to ponder, definitely. Thanks, and stay tuned for more details in my next post!

    JeffO- Have a great time on vacation! I used to do sports drinks with both electrolytes and calories, but so many different kinds made my stomach go wonky. This nuun stuff is awesome, though, no calories, just electrolytes. My stomach has been so happy since I’ve been running only with it. I’m very close to the right fueling combination. Just have to nail it!

    Eric- Knit one, pearl two. Here I come! Oh yeah, and cooking and baking, also.

    Bob- DO NOT stress out! Or, if you’re going to stress out, don’t do it on my account! Your experience will be totally different than mine.

    Beth- Thank you for reminding me again about the things that I did right. I totally needed that!

  13. robtherunner says:

    Incredible run up to 73 miles. Scary situation indeed, but I am glad you recovered without any serious consequences.

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