Favorite Pastime - Resting!

Favorite Pastime - Resting!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Shiprock DNF Reflections

Hello Barefooters,

Shiprock Selfie

I hope everyone is enjoying the start to summer and getting in some good barefoot mileage.  I have been enjoying some longer runs in the early mornings before dawn.  Nothing like a good 12 miler with the headlamp to get the day started right!

 As many of you know, I started my month out in Shiprock NM where I was attempting to run the Shiprock Marathon in under 4 hours barefoot.  But it was not to be.  I suffered my first ever DNF ("did not finish") and will have to return at some point to capture the state of New Mexico for my 50Sub4 quest.  I say "suffered" but actually, I was more than happy to get on the bus at mile 10 and end my day.  The course was just not "barefoot friendly" you could say and I think many different things came into play with the DNF.  

DNF - done at 10 miles

Now that I've had some time to reflect on the day, I would have to say these things all conspired against me to end my day early:

  1. Rough Road - rocks
  2. Heat
  3. High Altitude
  4. My Mindset
  5. "Ease" of quitting

VERY Rough Road

This list is in order of importance and I will explain each one.  The "Rough Road - rocks" was the most important factor by far.  The race was run on the Navajo Indian reservation with spectacular views of Shiprock for the first 20 miles.  The road however was very old asphalt, like macadam, and the rocks in the asphalt were like granite.  The gap between stones was noticable and it definitely slowed me down.

The "Heat" was also very much a factor.  The day started off at 61 degrees with a predicted high of 85 which was at least 10 degrees warmer than normal.  The race started at 8am and ran primarily west to east which meant we were running straight into the rising sun...not a great feeling when the temp is rising.

The "High Altitude" wasn't expected to be much of a factor, but I believe it surely took it's toll as well.  Linda and I bought a case of water and began drinking as soon as we arrived in NM but I'm not sure I drank enough to counteract running at a 6000 foot altitude.  I maybe didn't give this factor enough consideration after successfully running both Colorado and Wyoming last year (both above 1 mile high)

Driving the Course - "Testing" the Pavement
The next factor was "My Mindset" which actually had two different components, neither of which was good.  The first problem was that Linda and I went to drive the course the afternoon before.  Usually driving the course the day before is a good thing and instills confidence in the runner as you begin to "see yourself" on the course and visualize a good event.  Just the opposite happened this time.  As I viewed the course and kicked off my sandals to test the surface I was horrified to find out how rough the road was going to be.  I began to dread the next day.  All the positive thoughts didn't seem to help.  I prayed for calm nerves and asked for help to sleep well that night.  I tried to remember that this could be just like any other run, once I got started, and just needed to get myself to the starting line. 

Lots of broken glass and debris

The other problem with "My Mindset" happened in the first 1.5 miles or so of the race.  I was running along minding my own business, and trying desperately to find some smooth pavement in the early stages of the race (which was uphill).  I was running to the right of the centerline and "sort of" found some smoother pavement when from behind a guy starts shouting at me to get over to the left with the other runners.  "Come on man, you're blocking traffic" he said, after I had already gotten over to allow a race official and a baggage trailer around me (on the otherwise closed course there were no "other" vehicles).  I told him I was looking for some smooth pavement but he was having none of it and made it his personal responsibility to get me to run on the left side of the road.  I was not in a very good mood already, and this guy was not helping.  Words were exchanged, which I won't repeat but which I immediately regretted.  Once the situation escalated it got ugly...a shouting match between the two of us.  He finally relented, and took off running leaving me to stew and fume and oh yeah, pick my pace up because I was already running slightly above my needed 8:35 pace needed for my BPR.  I couldn't believe I'd let him get into my head but the damage was done.  No matter how I tried I couldn't seem to pull the pace back down to 8:35.  I'd run 76 marathons all over this country and had never "gotten into it" with another runner...what had just happened?...I was at a loss to explain my action and my over-reaction to this rude intrusion into my race.

This brings us to the final factor:  "Ease of quitting."  They just made it way to easy at this race.  This was a relay race so every 5 miles there was a relay exchange station and a set of busses waiting to take runners back to the finish area.  My decision to stop came very suddenly at about mile 8.  Up until then I hadn't even thought about stopping but suddenly it seemed like the only thing to do.  I looked at the aid station at mile 8 and thought, "Well I at least need to make it to the bus at mile 10 so I kept slogging along.  When I stopped at mile 10 I had actually picked the pace back up a little and had a 9:12 average going...but still not enough for a BPR or even a sub 4 hour time at that point.  I was very relieved and even happy to get on the bus and off of that awful pavement.

Free Roaming Horses in NM

After the bus ride back I was happy and relieved to find Linda and made to to the finish line to watch the half marathon winner come across the line.  I made it to the massage tent and was happy to find almost no line!  Linda and I made our way back to Farmington and enjoyed the rest of our day by attending a New Mexico film history presentation that afternoon in Farmington.


The trip was still very enjoyable and not a bust at all.  We got in some great hikes in Choco Canyon and Angel Monument.  We had a great little 4-day weekend while Grandma and Grandpa watched the girls for us back in Indiana.  I won't be too disappointed to have to come back to NM to re-run this one since there is a lot to see and do here.  I'm looking at the Albuquerque Marathon which looks to be very flat and smooth.

Have a Great Summer Barefooters,

Barefoot Dan

May Mileage = 167 Miles

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