Longhorn on hill country ranch

What Happens to a Race Deferred?

Longhorn cattle on hill country ranch
The ranch where Wild Hare 50 / 50k / 25k are staged is beautiful.

Streak Day:1106
YTD Mileage: 24
(2300 mile goal / 2018)

We had taken all the precautions we could to make sure the day would go smoothly. We left the dogs in San Antonio with our much-trusted and beloved dog sitter so that we wouldn’t have to plan time to walk and feed them before our planned departure time of 3:45 am from Austin to reach the race site by 5 am. We went to bed early enough to allow for a long stretch of sleep before our 2 am alarm went off. Perhaps the fact that our neighbor allowed her elementary school-aged children and their sleep-over friends loudly run and play between our building and hers well past midnight was an omen for what the next day would bring. No matter how much time we allowed for sleep, sleep didn’t come.

ink n burn skirt
At least I was wearing a cute outfit while I was walking toward my DNF. The super cute skirt is Ink n Burn.

Lack of sleep wasn’t the only hitch in our race plan that weekend. We left right on time for Warda, TX; however, this November day was warm and muggy even at 3:45 am. Still, I hoped for a miracle. Sometimes things work out better than one thinks they will. I certainly trained well enough for this 50k. I tried to focus on that point as Phillip and I discussed whether this race had started at 6 am the first time we ran it in 2013. An early start for a race hardly ever works to my advantage. In fact, when I registered for Wild Hare 2017, I didn’t realize the race time was 6 am. I probably would have thought twice about revisiting this race had I realized it. And in fact when I checked after the race, I found the Wild Hare 50k 2013 did in fact begin at 7 am. I’m not sure the start time would have made anymore difference this time than it did last time, however, except that since I can’t see in the dark even while carrying a good light the first hour of the race dragged on. I was over-heated before the sun rose, without having covered much mileage. I grew discouraged when everyone passed me, but I knew that once the sun came up I could run much faster.

DNF meme
credit: geocachingbutton.om

Except that I couldn’t. I was already over-heated and having the symptoms of heat sickness (ever so more quick to appear and ever so much more severe since last February’s heat stroke during the Austin marathon). To make a sad, long story short: I managed two loops then had to DNF. Phillip had tried to talk me into dropping to the 25k before we arrived at the race site. I almost did, but a woman handing out the chips talked me into sticking with the 50k. It’s not her fault; she was encouraging me. It’s my fault. Had I dropped to the 50k, I would have finished the race with a dismal 25k time, but with a medal and a race to my credit. As it is, I barely finished the second loop, received no credit for anything, and spent the rest of the weekend sick. Oh – and a second Wild Hare 5ok DNF, and the second DNF for 2017. I think 2017 was a record setter for me that way.

You know what’s really sad about DNFs? It’s like you never even showed up for the party. I mean, no race photos or anything. You go to the website and look through the photos, but none of yourself. And salt added to the wound comes in the form of emails from the race (thanks Austin marathon!), congratulating you for finishing and telling you where to find your photos . . . . except . . . . except that when you go there you don’t find any photos of yourself. Because you didn’t finish. If you didn’t finish, you weren’t there. I don’t know where  you were for 23.8 miles on February 19th, 2017, but you weren’t on the course of the Austin marathon, obviously, if you didn’t finish the race. I don’t meant to discount the importance of dreams deferred, and with apologies to Langston Hughes I wonder what does happen to a race deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Maybe, like a dream deferred, it just sags like a heavy load.

Gwen and Teresa: Decker Challenge
Ok, so this photo of my dear friend Gwen and me was taken on the morning we ran the Decker Challenge half-marathon, several weeks after my Wild Hare 50k debacle. I ran Decker sub-two, and placed 4th in my AG. I had to add some sort of redeeming running event to this post! Oh, my skirt? Lucky in Love. I see no difference between tennis skirts and running skirts❤️

Two DNFs in 2017, and my second Wild Hare DNF, make me examine my racing options for the future. I suppose I can race only distances I know I can finish even if the weather is horribly disposed toward running a race (5k, 10k, 13.1).  OOOOrrrrr, looking at my successful 50k finishes, the most successful of which were way NORTH of Texas, in the fall months and with later starts than the races in Texas, I can just limit my long races to those I can run outside of Texas (which follows my doctor’s advice, anyway). Or I can just give up on distances over 13.1 altogether. But I’m not sure this last option is really an option. I just have to wait and see whether starting races only to DNF becomes more disappointing than not starting them at all. Right now that may be the case. But 2018 is a new year! Time for new strategies and new possibilities!

As a postscript, re my previous post about pine tree bark: nah. It doesn’t work. At least it didn’t work for me (hence the DNF at Wildhare). It was worth a try, though. Otherwise I wouldn’t have known it didn’t work! Keep the run going!!!

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