First off, let me start with the positive things that happened at this weekend's Grand Teton 50. I got to test, and was happy with, a new approach to drop bags that saved me a number of minutes during the race. I learned that I could in fact do some serious running in some pretty hot conditions and that at some smaller ultras I could actually play at competing for places. I had an uplifting, and experienced, crew for the latter part of the race (my wife and an unfortunately injured, Brad Mitchell). And, finally, I learned a hell of a lot.
You could also say I got schooled, which is what it most felt like right after I dropped at mile 45.
It all came down to calories, as it often does with me. My stomach fought me both in the lead up to the race (keeping me from loading like I need to) and during the race (keeping me from replacing the calories like I need to), which was too bad, because I felt like I had a shot at a decent time for a course like Teton.
I had good trips up Fred's Mountain both times and despite a general malaise for most of the first lap, finished the first 25 miles in around 4:25 (sadly, right after seeing an ailing Brad Mitchell at the tail end of Rick's Basin). It was then that I had a brief window where my stomach felt pretty settled, and I was hopeful I'd be able to pound the calories and come home pretty strong on the second lap.
Wishful thinking it turned out. My stomach began protesting again around mile 30 and just kept getting worse until around mile 42 where it totally shut down and wouldn't come back on line no matter what I tried (water, Ultra, S-caps). Meanwhile my blood sugar level dropped tosubterranean levels, and it was all I could do to make it to the base aid station at mile 45, drop from the race, and shuffle back to the hotel room with tingling hands and labored breathing (as my wide-eyed crew will attest).
After an hour of blowing ketones and letting gluconeogenesis run its course, I was feeling much better and left wondering what I could have done differently - a question that will no doubt haunt a large portion of my off season.
That said, I have to take a step back and trust that the problem was largely just bad timing with a mild stomach virus. Forty-five miles at Teton is no mean feat, and I'll take that mental and physical training with me into '09. --Hank
Photos - before the fall
(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)