Monday, September 24, 2012

How Bad Quitting Hurts


How I Ran 6 hrs in a 24 hr Race



(Did Not Meet Expected Goal or Mileage)

I'm not really feeling writing this race report.  It involves me quitting, and I didn't think that word was in my vocabulary anymore.  Apparently it is though, so here it goes.  There will be only one picture.


I ran my first ultra, Woodstock 50M, on September 5th.  That went swimmingly.  Had a great time.  Had a great race.  Fast forward two weeks to North Coast 24.  My goal was 100 miles.  This was so the distance was no longer intimidating.  Everybody ready?  Here we go.

Oh boy, I'm in... Cleveland

Rode down to Cleveland with my mother and her friend.  This was the first time that I had left the state in 14 years.  That wasn't really too exciting.  Took pictures in preparation for this blog.  
One thing about Ohio: they don't have "Rest Areas" like we do here in Michigan.  They have "Service Centers."  These are like mini malls.  They have the rest-rooms, a food court, all kinds of fun stuff.  
And Cleveland is WAY cleaner than Detroit.  WAY.

Pre-Race Dinner

This was held as an informal event at Player's restaurant in Lakewood, OH.  Very nice place.  Very nice dinner.  Only a handful of other runners attended.  The entire medical staff was there, and there were a bunch  of them.  That was cool.  Had a great meal.  But that's not why you're here either.

Race Time

It was chilly on the lake at the 9am start.  Between 50 - 60 degrees fahrenheit, so I had my running hat and gloves on, as well as a light windbreaker with tech long and short sleeved shirts.  The course is a .9 mile loop.  After one loop, took off the hat and jacket.  Another couple laps and I was down to just the tech short sleeved.  Then I ran in a circle for about four hours.
At this point, I started feeling sleepy and my mind started giving me the "This is too much too soon" line on a continuous loop.  I tried to reason with my mind, telling it all the training I had put in, but it didn't want to listen.  For all I know, it could have been too much too soon.  I put on some music and kept on trucking.
At about 50k, I turned into the med tent for a stretching session.  Those volunteers were amazing.  I came out of that tent feeling like I was ready to run another 50k.  Then the storm blew in.  
I was watching it approach as I finished a lap.  When I knew I wasn't going to make another one before it started, I grabbed my $3 rain poncho and did another lap.

This was taken during my last lap.  When I turned the corner, a 50+ mph wind hit me in the face.  I wasn't ready for this physically or mentally.  I finished the lap then retreated into the restrooms.  I watched it hail.  I watched tents and canopies get blown away.  I was done.  The wind had ripped the poncho right off of my arm.  That was the only rain gear I owned at the time.  (First stop upon getting home was REI.  I now own a VERY nice water PROOF [not resistant] jacket).
I called my fiance, Crystal, and told her what was going on.  I said, "I'm not having fun anymore."  Normally, I LOVE running in the rain.  Bring on a thunder storm!  This time, it was the proverbial straw that broke my back.
Then called my mother and told her I was quitting and to come pick me up.
Told the RD.  Stopped by the med tent for one more stretch out.  Gathered my stuff.  Went back to the hotel.


I knew, in my head, that I had done the right thing.  Crystal, my father and my mother all said that I had done the right thing.  But all I could think about were all the people that were still out there.  All the people that HADN'T pussed out.
Threw up a post on the Ultra List and my ultra goup's face book page.  I needed other ultra runners to tell me that it was ok.
I got an awesome response.  Thank you all for your encouragement.

In Conclusion

This report did help a bit.  A bit.  I have an 100k in less than three weeks that will restore me I think.  That one WILL be fun.  I'll be with a group of friends from my ultra group, and we're going to ROCK it!!!
36 miles in 6 hours.  40 loops.  I will be back.

Lessons Learned

  • Spend some money on rain gear.  It's worth it.
  • Sometimes your mind is right.  Not often, but sometimes.
  • Ultra runners deal with pain.  But there's still a part that's fun.  If it stops being fun, why do it?  
So tune in three weeks from today for "How I ran across the top of Michigan, and all I got was this lousy shirt"


  1. I'm not sure the end of my second hundred miler was fun (definitely one of the most painful I have run), but kept going although thought about quitting a few times. I think the storm definitely played with your mindset to stop. I've never done of one of these timed races so don't know how that affects your mind either. Maybe if you do another one go into with the mindset you can take a break to think about stopping. Even in a predetermined distance sometimes people will say they want to quit, but if they take a few minutes to think about it, they sometimes change their mind. Good luck on your 100K! Don't start too fast!

    1. Thanks Andy. It was a bunch of things. I was stuck at 9-9:30/mile running. Could walk 15-20/mile, but every time I started running, I was going too fast. I forgot to keep in mind that the only finish line was at 9am, not a specified distance.

  2. Andrew - I was there this weekend and that storm was no joke. I've been telling people it was fun until it wasn't - and the no fun part started when the storm came thru. Since you've got another ultra coming up soon I think you made a smart choice to quit. I quit after about 13 hours - couldn't take the blisters anymore. Good luck in your next race.