Photo courtesy Shelley Dobbins From top left, Shelley Dobbins, Joel Dobbins, Ashley Cearbaugh, Kelly Cearbaugh, Tiffany Rauch, Aubree Reichel, Pat Quinn, Doug Camp, Jennifer Jordan; (bottom left) Jill Freed, Kate Wright, Steve Carr, Steve Miazgowicz
The Kanawha Trace 50K in West Virginia featured a lot of single-track trails in a point-to-point race along a Boy Scout trail.
Sunday, August 13, 2017 1:00 am
Rare failure tough to take
After not finishing race, 'always forward' mantra even more vital
I'm going to be honest about something in my running: I don't fail often and it's a hindrance.
This sounds bad. Shouldn't I aim to succeed every time? In short, yes. I do everything I can to put myself in the best possible position to succeed.
Sometimes, though, things don't always go as planned.
I've heard it said that more things are learned through defeat than through success. I would disagree with this and change “more” to “different.”
On Aug. 5, I took off from the starting line at the Kanawha Trace 50-kilometer race in West Virginia.
I ran the first half-mile with my friend Tiffany. As she pulled away, she yelled back, “I love you, Aubree! I'll see you in seven miles!” (This was a jab that it was her first race over 6K and it was her first trail race. She did awesome.)
I quickly realized I started too fast. It was still early enough in the race for me to back off, concentrate on walking up the hills and just moving forward the best I comfortably could.
My nutrition plan was the same as the Indiana Trail 50-miler: salt capsules every 30 minutes, gels (Huma and Untapped) every 45 minutes, solid food at aid stations.
I carried enough with me to not have to rely on aid stations besides to fill up my water bottles and get some solid food. I grabbed watermelon at the first one and Mountain Dew at the second.
My goal was to finish in less than 7 hours. I was under pace for that through the first half but knew the second half would get tougher. I was right. The second half was tougher, but I never got there.
I left the second aid station around mile 13, turned off the road to a field, turned right into someone's yard (which was a normal occurrence at this point) and right again into the woods.
The single-track trail went down a bit of a decline and right at the bottom, I twisted my ankle on a root.
This wasn't a minor tweak that I could walk off and be on my way, but I didn't require emergency assistance. I was tempted to go back to the last aid station since it was much, much closer, but as Steve Carr wrote on my arm at the Indiana Trail, “Always forward.”
Forward I went. Much slower than before.
I wasn't sure where the next aid station was, but I knew I'd have awhile to consider my options: continue as far as I could in pain and risk additional injury or drop at the next aid station.
I was able to keep a decent pace, but I quickly noticed I was tense from head to toe, running scared and tentative in my footing.
The aid station ended up being around mile 18 and in those four miles, I cried a lot. Pain. Frustration. Failure. I dropped at the aid station and felt regret.
I hadn't DNF'd (did not finish) a race since recovering from injury during track in college in 2012. I've had a lot of bad races in the five years, but I think the worst part about this one was that there wasn't anything I could have done without risking additional damage.
I twisted my ankle in Oregon in June and I took two weeks off in July due to illness but got a solid two weeks of training and a mini-taper. I did what I could, and I was feeling good during the race.
The hindrance of never failing is not knowing how to properly deal with it. I was emotional all day despite the understanding and reassurance of my teammates (there were 13 of us there). I was genuinely happy for their successes as all of them finished the challenging course under the 10-hour time limit.
Within a few days, my ankle felt good enough to run. I cross-trained Tuesday and was back on the trails Wednesday.
Before the race started, Steve joked that it was “only a 50K.” Looking back, I realize that it was “only a 50K,” in that there will be other races of whatever distance.
The best thing to do after a bad race is move forward. Always forward.
Aubree Reichel covers high schools, IPFW and recreation for The Journal Gazette. You can follow her training on the Foot Traffic blog at www.journalgazette.net/blog. She can be reached at 461-8339 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.