Well, it's over. All those frozen pre-dawn mornings on the skis, the weightroom, the miles and miles and miles. It was a great adventure, one that will certainly pay off in future races, but I wasn't able to use any of it last night. I learned long ago that I either have or it I don't- and I hand nothing on this day. After some nice runs in the Alps last week, I acquired a virus or some sickness that made me exhausted and dizzy all this race week. I had some terrible head pain, muscle pain throughout my body, a fever and dizzy spells. I kept it to myself and stayed optimistic it would break and I would be rested after a week of no exercise whatsoever. I ate as much as I could, slept 12-14 hours a day and just waited, rather scared that whatever was wrong with me was not passing. I toed the start line with a plan to be very conservative. I was dizzy and wanted to go lay down as the final countdown began and the music blasted. It was quite a frantic scene taking off to that kind of hoopla. I smiled and tried to enjoy the scene- maybe once in a lifetime.
I was dizzy and had cramping twinges in my calves on the first mile through town. I felt completely disconnected from my legs and any uptick in effort beyond casual jogging made me see black spots. Thankfully, it was raining hard. That cooled me and helped to clear my head. I hiked all the climbs and passed many with ease, only to not have the coordination to run downhill. I walked basically all of the downhills. I saw Brandi in Contamines and she saw the deer in the headlights look on my face and knew I was in for a rough go out there. I climbed the Col du Bonhomme (second climb of the day 4000+') and felt ok, but I limped all the way down to Chapieux to the aid at about 50k. Even the beautiful grassy downhill road that leads the 2 miles to town, I was only able to jog and stumble an 11 min pace. That is 6 min mile territory and I was unable to even jog it at this point. For the first time, I felt a bad pain in my lower back. I wasn't sure if it was from bad running form or if it was a kidney issue. I sat in Chapieux for several minutes eating some soup. It had stopped raining a while ago and I was boiling, even in the middle of the night wearing very little.
From Chapieux, I jogged up the gravel road in the dark towards the Col de la Seigne. Then, my light died. I sat on the road and changed the battery to a brand new extra battery I just bought for $50. I plugged it in and it only showed 1 out of 3 bars remaining. I charged it fully and it was nearly dead before I used it! Wow, that only bought me a few hours of light, then I would be down to my small back up light. Not good. Onward to Courmayeur. On that road at a bathroom stop I saw some red in my urine. That meant it was my kidneys. Now, I was scared. I ate and drank plenty, but my energy was absolutely failing. I was swerving and stumbling on the roads. It was about to get ugly on Seigne. I took my time, knowing I was on the edge of losing my finish. I actually climbed ok and even passed some others. But, in the first steps downward, I was falling and beating myself silly. I focused hard on form and trying to get anything going to save me. I had an overwhelming urge to sleep and the dizzyness was making downhills dangerous. I got to the Lac Combal aid. It was just 13 more kilometers to see Brandi in Courmayeur, Italy and I wanted to get there. As I pulled into the aid at Lac Combal mile 40, my spare battery died and now I would be down to just my emergency light. I had some water and soup then went into the medical tent for a checkup. The doctor pushed into my right kidney and pain shot through me. She told me my day was done and said I could get a car to Courmayeur. I was thankful for their help and felt like I was risking serious damage if I continued to Courmayeur. It was no let down to stop. I had played all my cards and my day was done. I looked forward to hugging Brandi and catching the bus through the Mont Blanc tunnel. I will be watching my health closely- especially the kidney thing.
Hopefully, it was just from the atrocious downhill running form I was
using and not some kind of kidney failure. It was humbling to fail so completely. However, I know I was not able to
perform due to a sickness- not overtraining or some self inflicted
problem from errors in my preparation. That is a small victory- knowing I am stronger than that and someday that strength will show. It is just sad that it could not show on this wonderful course around the Alps.
So, I slept a few hours and here I sit blogging while the winners approach the finish line. Not how I imagined it. I am still excited for my future as a runner. September is a big month of hunting and directing IMTUF. We will be home in a few days and hopefully I can recover soon and try to race again before the season ends.
Thanks for reading. I appreciate your support.