I ran my first Ultra on Saturday.
The course was beautiful. It was on the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin. 31 miles of trail beautiful miles filled with adventure. The course was challenging with difficult conditions. There was snow, Ice, Mud and icy cold rivers of water that went on for miles! It was not a stellar race for me on many levels.
And I got my first ever DNF – Did Not Finish.
While the course was an extremely doable course under normal conditions, the conditions that I had on Saturday proved to be more than I could handle and after 6+ hours and 22 miles, I dropped out of the race. The constant slipping and sliding did not help the hip issue that I deal with constantly when I run. It needed more time on the trails to get used to the different stressors it would present for my hip and for me to come up with race strategies.
I will look at other trail races and put one into the schedule – am considering running Chippewa next year!
It was a hard weekend – I was not nearly as sore as I thought I would be, which is a plus. But dealing with the DNF has been the harder piece for me. I have never dropped out of a race. The thought of dropping was not even on my mind – but I reached the turn around just after the cut off – so anticipated that they would pull me from the course. They didn’t. The next 6 miles were brutal. For those who know me and know how easily I fall on race courses, I took my first tumble at 16-17 miles! Thankfully where I fell was not snowy, icy or running water! Only just a tad muddy!
The trail proved to me to much for me on Saturday – The hip was not going to make it the full 31 miles! When I reached the aid station where I dropped, the next 3 miles were relatively flat, but the last 6 miles would be pretty intense. I have a chance at getting close to a Boston Qualifying time – if I run smart and avoid injury. The way my hip was feeling on Saturday, I was not sure I would avoid injury.
I know I made the right decision – but today I keep asking the “what if” questions. I have to keep reminding myself that lots of runners dropped out due to course conditions – even runners with much experience at trail running.
I have to keep reminding myself that I made 22 of 31 miles at my first attempt at this distance.
And there is always next year!