I didn’t finish Hardrock. It just plain sucks, especially with it being such an anticipated event. I only made it to Grouse Gulch, mile 42. Wimp. I got there at midnight, zombie dead, having been a little lost and spacey coming off the 14k Handies Peak and 13k American Basin, not to mention all the other high points previous to these. I couldn’t eat anything--I felt deathly ill, unmotivated, and yes, short on good cheer. Pulling out was legit, considering the next aid station for doing so was 16 miles off, I was flailing, two hours behind the published 48 hour pace, and I felt like I was a health risk.
So of course now I’m home and going through all sorts of second guessing. Probably natural, and admittedly, it's easy to lose track of how pathetic I actually felt in the moment. Still, I now think I could’ve rallied. At least I’d like to think I could’ve. Though behind the published 48 hour pace, I was still two hours ahead of the cutoff, and a few others finished who arrived later at Grouse. I think I just had a human moment, and although truly wasted, I think the right motivation could've got me going. In short, I could’ve wanted it more. It sucks to say that, but I know I had way too many anxieties about this race beforehand, because I really did want it, to the point that I wasn't enjoying or anticipating the race in the same way that I have with the other 100s I've done.
I just didn't know what I was getting into--it was just stress, stress, stress--way disproportionate to what it should've been in the grand scheme of things. There was altitude, weather, navigation, agoraphobia, fitness, socks, shoes, poles or no poles, attack marmots. By the time the gun sounded, I just wanted to get it over with, which is not a winning mental posture when you actually hit the wall with such a difficult race. I think for 100s you have to make the decision before the gun goes that nothing--nothing--is going to stop you, and yes, that can end up making things a bit crazy, but that's the nature of the beast.
Now that I have a better feel for Hardrock, I wish I wish I wish I had figured me out. I didn’t. So, as one friend said, I have “unfinished business.” I like that. I’ll finish this one eventually, though it may take me a few years to get back in. When I do, it'll probably be miserable conditions--unlike last weekend--but still, I'll figure it out. Unless I give up this whole ultra thing in the meantime, and take up another hobby, like model airplanes or stamps. I don't really think that will happen--I'll be back. (That's a quote from The Terminator, in case you never saw it.)
The event itself was incredible, and the trip was a sweet vacation. I did in fact catch 42 miles of one of the toughest and most beautiful courses out there, and I also got out on other portions of the course, like Virginius Pass (above and below) and the cliffs above Ouray (below). I suspect the elevation for the portion I did averaged 12k. Make no mistake--this is indeed a very very hard race---I was wheezing frequently, walking much of the time, with wet feet from the streams. There were cliffs with hundred foot falls. There were creek crossings. There was the Continental Divide Trail. There were marmots, lightning in the high mountain valleys, and the best wildflowers I’ve ever seen. This is a one of a kind experience.
I showed up a week early to acclimate. The race more or less took over the small town of Silverton, with runners everywhere. Acclimating includes movie night, trail marking parties, and scouting trips. There was one very awful evening at 11k feet in a six dollar tube tent. Elk burgers. Fake gun fights. A 1800s style parade, and the best fireworks I’ve ever seen on the fourth of July. Things that go boom. I met all sorts of most excellent people, some runners, and some not. The race organization was a marvel. All in all, it was a great time, and a world class vacation, at least to my tastes. My camera isn’t working so well--it has a glare thing going on---but here are a few photos.
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Eliot
Every day is a gift.