"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lessons of FANS

The emotional rollercoaster continues. I will NOT be running the Sour Grapes half this weekend. There's no good that could come from that.

Les Martisko (Scooby Dog), Pierre Ostor (Frog Dog) and Danny Ripka (Lap Dog) were the only members of the Dog Pound I remember seeing at FANS; their number keeps dwindling. There's another group in the Carolinas with the same theme - check out the Cave Dog for details. I think I finally have the name I'd use: Salvador Doggy. I laugh every time I think of a dog with half a moustache.

People read race reports with preconceived notions and that's one of the reasons I didn't want to say much about FANS. The common threads in people's comments have been about stubbornness and determination, but that's not what it was about for me. Stubbornness would be adhering to a plan, no matter how the conditions change. I shifted plans like a chameleon shifts color; it just didn't matter. My FANS race was about resignation... similar to getting a diagnosis of a terminal illness; it's going to hurt, it's going to get embarassing and there's nothing that will change the end result. You deal with it.

I walked for 13 hours. I could've run part of that and maybe made 100 miles, but that would've been the end of my running career. I wasn't being stupid by not stopping (well, not especially stupid) and though I was gambling with my health, it was an odds-on favorite.

Of course, Big Brown just lost the Belmont Stakes at odds of 1:12 or something like that. That's why it's called gambling.

The problem I had was that I didn't have time to acclimate to the temperature and humidity and that made hydration and electrolytes tricky. Last year, I erred on the side of too much water and way too much salt and had 13 lbs. of bloat (and 12 hours of diarrhea). This year, my weight stayed steady and I never had problems with nausea. But... My hands swelled so much that I had to move three notches on my watchband and my feet swelled even more [too little salt, probably]. The swollen feet caused friction, which led to blisters, which led to a change in gait, which led to different blisters, which led to another change, which led to problems in muscles and tendons and fascia, which led... well, you get the idea. Downward spiral.

Speaking of spirals, I was thinking about the math of catastrophe theory in the last bit of the race (among other things; a pair of brown eyes kept leaping to mind, as well), just as Colin, who would actually understand it, joined me for a bit. It applies to ultras. You move continuously on a smooth surface until you hit a discontinuity and then you're somewhere distant with no way to return. Problems are reversible for a while and, when they aren't reversible any more, you have to change mentally. Stubbornness would be deadly.

Perhaps I learned something from reading the Stoics about ignoring the pain. Perhaps I learned something from the Zen poets about accepting it.

I did learn not to repeat it. That was all me.

1 comment:

keith said...

I do not understand why, when I ask for grilled lobster in a restaurant, I am never served cooked telephone.

They say you always learn from the ones that hurt the most. I like that you learned completely different things about the same condition.