28 April 2023

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I originally signed up for the Canyons Endurance Runs 100 Miler, because my better half was looking for a race to earn Running Stones for the UTMB lottery. Her UTMB World Series event in Mexico hadn't gone as planned, so she was eager to get back out there to secure some stones. Unfortunately, she got injured and ended up having to withdraw from the race. I wouldn't have done the same, had it not been for a couple of running friends from my hometown of Huntsville, who had also signed up for the race. Alas, I was committed to traveling to Cali and running this 100 miler that essentially would utilize much of the final 40 miles of the Western States 100 Miler, but in an out-and-back fashion. On the initial out, there were a few loops to be run in and around the town of Cool before runners headed toward Forest Hill.
I arrived in Auburn the day before the race start, just in time to pick up my race packet and to check out the area. It was significantly hotter than originally expected. This little fact would be what greatly affected the outcome of my race. I had planned to take a very conservative approach to running this race. My previous event at the Black Canyons 100K just a couple of weeks earlier had not gone as I had hoped. While I did finish, I struggled quite a bit more than expected, which was reflected in my finishing time. In California, just as in Arizona, heat was severe. 

As planned, I ran a very conservative race from the start. The atmosphere at the start in Aurbun was pretty amazing. Lots of spectators were lining the streets as we made our way through downtown on our way out of town and onto the Western States trail. My buddies Jeff, Clay, and I would stick together for the early miles, but no later than mile 12 did CLay start to pull ahead while Jeff and I hung back. Shortly thereafter, Leff and I parted ways as he fell back to deal with some stomach issues. I wouldn't see him again until after the race.

I continued on my conservative race plan, but just a few miles later, around mile 20, my quads started to cramp. I don't usually deal with muscle cramps, so experiencing them this early in a 100 miler and in a major muscle group was quite concerning. I could also tell that I was getting dehydrated. I had been taking in as much fluids and electrolytes as possible, but clearly it wasn't enough. I slowed down even more and took a long break at the next aid station trying to catch up on the fluids and nutrition. Unfortunately, the aid stations didn't offer much in the way of nutrition in the early miles, which was surprising considering that we were running a 100 miler and solid food is key in the early stages when runners can still consume them.

In any case, I left the aid station after 30 minutes, walking in hopes of recovering from the deficit. I was not recovering at all. Instead, I started dry heaving. Great, this was not going the way I had hoped. I hiked the next 6 or so miles to the next aid station, No Hands Bridge #2, but that aid station only offered water and no food at all. I considered dropping here, but when I checked on Jeff's progress, he was still 2 hours out from this aid station, way behind the cutoffs. So I decided to continue on to the mile 40 aid station. It was a slow slog with only very little running. By the time I finally arrived at the aid station, it was just getting dark. I was still 2 hours ahead of the cutoffs, but I had made up my mind already. I was going to drop. As much as I loathed sitting there watching runners come in and out, I knew it wasn't my day and I had nothing to gain by continuing. After all, I had bigger goals just over a month later. However, it is worth mentioning that the mile 40 aid station wasn't just staffed by amazing people, it was also the first aid station to have some real foods. I was finally able to get caught up on nutrition, just in time for my ride back to the start/finish line. All kidding aside, these volunteers were amazing.

An hour later, a volunteer picked up a bunch of us with a mini van and within 30 minutes, I was back in Auburn ready to get back to our hotel.

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