It has hardly been six hours since I DNF'd at the 2014 Diez Vista.
I have to admit that I am really struggling with my decision to drop out. Logic tells me it was the right choice, but my heart is absolutely broken.
Here's how it all went down....
Pretty much as expected, Ed McCarthy and I were in the lead, and pretty much shoulder to shoulder for the first 30 minutes. Ed is a strong climber, and he put about 15 seconds on me up to top of the Diez Ridge, but i was running comfortably and expected it to happen. Unfortunately, he took an accidental wrong turn right at the top. I yelled to him, and he made the correction. But, he did lose his 15 second lead, and popped back right on my heels.
A few minutes later, I started to put in a little bit of effort along the ridge. I got a small gap on Ed, but then the scoreboard got evened...my heel pulled out of my shoe by a root. As I stopped to try and get my shoe back on, Ed got into the lead again. We cruised along at a reasonable pace for the next 15 minutes or so, but when we got to the 'fake-out' end of the ridge I put in a surge to take the lead and to try and get a small gap. I managed to get around 15 seconds on him by time we popped out at the big pipe crossing at the North end of Buntzen. We were both obviously content running our own races, because at best, I extended that lead to 30 seconds by the time we got to the Gazebo aid station.
This is where I took an honest assessment of what was happening and how I was feeling. We were making great time, and with all my course prep experience, Gary's course record was likely going to fall. At that point, my plan was to use the next hour or so to take in calories and get prepped for a screaming, kick-ass last quarter. I had ran that last quarter a couple times in training, and my goal was to hit it full gas and shoot for 55 minutes. Things were right on track. (actually, well ahead of plan)
I may have even put as few more seconds on Ed as we were running along the BC Hydro road. I was looking forward to hitting the 28km mark. I knew my wife and girls would be there. I was excited about seeing them, and excited for them to see me.
At around 27.5 km though, the gravel road turned to asphalt as it dipped fairly steeply downhill. I was moving at a fast clip, and was trying to stay on the tiny (leaf covered) shoulder to avoid any extra pounding. That's when it happened...
I must have stepped on a stick or a rock, because my left foot just shot out from under me as I planted it on the ground. In a heartbeat, I bounced off the pavement and rolled down the road. Filled with adrenaline, i hopped up, gathered my ejected water bottle, and kept going.
Even though i had been looking forward to seeing my family, i had such tunnel vision, that i barley waved at them as i passed. Things weren't right, I couldn't see straight, and i began to trip at an alarming frequency.
I couldn't figure it out...what was happening to me. I was still in the lead as I turned up the trail and climbed towards the power lines, but i just couldn't run fast. My body wasn't responding, and the fucking tripping was ridiculous. Ed went past me in a blur on the climb, but there was nothing I could do...I had to walk.
I was happy to pop onto the power line out-and-back. The footing was much smoother, and I could run again. Ed was a ways ahead, but i seemed to be holding my ground again. I still had some hope, even though I was seeing double.
There is a slightly rocky downhill section just before the course gets kicked out on the road (which is around 200m from the turn around). I just about ate shit so badly on that tiny rocky section...I was all over the place. That's also pretty much where Ed and I crossed in opposite directions. I was trying hard to do the math:
How far ahead was he?
How long to the finish?
Even with a mediocre last section, I would still be close to 4 hrs...I think.
Right then it hit me....I have a fucking concussion.
To be honest, that really scared me. Enough in fact, that about 1 minute later I pulled out of the race.
I'm sure you can see, right then and there, I made what I felt was the only logical decision. In hind sight though, was it logical...or was it emotional?
I have a history with concussions. Concussions are the reason I stopped racing BMX a few years ago. Not just the frequency and number of them, but the gradually increasing severity of them. Six years ago, with Jodi fully prego with our twins, I took a bad hit to the head while racing. It made me stupid (I'm not kidding at all) for a good 2 weeks.
It scared the crap out of me. I had too much at stake to gamble again: kids, wife, work, my brain... I stopped racing BMX, and I sold my downhill bikes.
Logically, I could have made it to the DV50 finish today. If I slowed right down and jogged it in, it's doubtful that i would have crashed again.
But that's not how I race. I'm all in...until I'm all out...no middle ground.
The silver lining is that my fitness is as good, if not better, than it has ever been. My prep for DV was pretty much perfect, giving me a foundation for Knee Knacker and Squamish50. And...my big-picture training plan was/is for some down time for the next few weeks. Somehow, in my contorted impact, I must have landed with my arm underneath me. Hence the cracked rib that i am now aware of. Crap...I hate broken ribs.
I gotta give it to Ed today. He ran strong, and he set a new course record. I enjoyed running with him. Hopefully we can have a do-over in Squamish this summer.
As far as concussions go, I dodged a bullet today. I'm seeing straight now, and I'm able to think with relative clarity. But, as I'm sitting here typing this, I'm torn. I don't make emotional decisions...but maybe i did. And, I fucking hate feeling weak.