Below is a relatively quick summary of my Mohican 100 attempt on Saturday -- race report will likely appear in the next week or so. I have a lot to say -- and will probably have to edit the final report for emotions; the comments aren't all pretty.
Brutal. I can honestly say that this race took out more talented runners than I could have ever imagined. Drop rate was 62%. Many of the most experienced Mohican runners were finishing within the final hour before cutoff. Who would have thought that the likes of Roy Heger, Mark Carroll, Ron Ross, would be rolling in the later hours with barely any cushion of time, saying this was the hardest Mohican ever -- with more than 35 Mohican finishes amongst themselves alone? This wasn't only the heat... this was more about poor race planning (not on the part of the participants)! More on this topic later.
As for my attitude going in to the race, I was a little (a lot) tempered that I had a migraine all night (but so thankful Mark & Terri Lemke let me sleep upright on one of their home couches). Trust me, this isn't an excuse for running poorly -- I handled it, put it to the back of my mind like I had all the outside stress that was taunting me. This was MOHICAN. "Santa Claus came, Suzanne, this is MOHICAN!!" Mark Carroll said like a giddy child of this gift we receive every year.
I had downplayed the course changes, accepted them without much complaint, announced to a few folks that it seemed extra senseless to put all 23 miles of the course's road section in the 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. heat of the day. I thought perhaps getting the tougher parts of the course out of the way early would be a benefit. I planned well on taking care of my body, I was pompous about it in fact -- "Oh, this course is going to wipe out the less experienced runners early, this is where my EXPERIENCE and KNOWLEDGE will level the playing field!" That pedestal I put myself on was knocked down with a myriad of blows all within 5 miles of trail from Covered Bridge to Hickory Ridge (about 14-15 hours into the race for me). In one hour and 50 minutes I completely and totally lost all control over my body -- all the resources flew into overdrive, attempting to cool my core for probably the twentieth time that day. Nothing was left working to keep my vision clear, my head straight, my legs strong, or my stomach from heaving. I laid on a cot at Hickory Ridge, delirious, for an hour before relenting to heat exhaustion.
The good that came out of my race -- and there is always good, even in a DNF -- was that I had plenty of time to think about my life as it stands. I truly love this sport. I truly love this community we have built. With all the wrong that is going on, this is still right. For well over a year now I have been battling a lot of internal battles. The winter blues never went away last summer, with rare warm days and the cool fall upon us so quickly. It has been a long road of dismal days. There was a lot to think about on that trail Saturday.
I have brought on these challenges myself. This was created by me! I have built too-high of an expectation level in those around me (family, friends, colleagues). When you give and do "above and beyond" folks get used to it -- and then when it scales back within normal range people say, "Is that how you are treating me now? I am disappointed in your lack of effort." Or as I was told by someone close to me after I dropped out of the race, "You quit before you even tried." Really? 60 miles, 14+ hours, that isn't trying? I know, it should have been a finish; that would have been real trying, real doing.
So it seems like this Mohican DNF would be another disappointment in myself. Last year, that is exactly how I chose to see it. This time, as I sit down to write a real race report, I am going to need to focus on the lessons, the joys! Mohican is indeed a gift that comes once a year! And I am going to celebrate with those few 38% who crossed the finish line -- because their tolerance and perseverance earned them a whole lot of respect from our community. I did not hear one complaint about a slow finish time -- to complete this epic 102-mile race under the time cut offs was simply an amazing feat. And I am so glad to have been there to see it happen. There wasn't anything that could have kept me away.
I have just found out that two of my colleagues have progressed terminal cancer. People, we do NOT have time to remain disappointed in others, nor with ourselves! It is time to recognize and celebrate the efforts of others, of each step we do accomplish, the love we have built, the bonds we have forged. This life is much like Russian Roulette, you never know which chamber holds a bullet.
And if my attitude disappoints you, I sincerely apologize. I love you anyway.
How The Cows Were Cool
4 years ago