Labor of Love 50k 2014, my race that wasn’t
I really wish I was writing my Calico Racing Labor of Love 50k 2014 race report right now. I truly do. However, it was not to be. Fate took a turn and snatched away 8 months worth of work.
The previous two weeks worth of running, testing out new gear, new strategies, and diet were building up to a culmination of events to help me tackle my biggest running challenge to date. I had my drop bag stocked with ice, extra Gatorade, an extra sandwich, socks, knee braces – essentially what I foresaw as items needed for the second half of my 50k.
Thursday night, I skipped going to see a friend’s band play, as the most important night of sleep is two nights before the event. I felt energized as I went to sleep early on Thursday night.
Friday, I awoke antsy and ready to get the last minute preparations done. A light dinner and errands lead up to another early night. Of course, I was unable to sleep soundly, as the excitement of an upcoming race was getting the best of me. Planning to wake up around 4:30, I was a little mad when I woke up a little after 3:00 AM. Rather than fight it and risk oversleeping, I got up and started to get ready. Knowing that I could not be at the start line before 6:00 AM, I took my time, triple checked that I had everything (for Hoover Dam Marathon, I was 3 blocks from the house when I realized I forgot my bib at home) – everything was good to go.
Out the door I went! My car was in the shop, my wife wanted to stay home to get some cleaning done, so I left her car and took the truck. Thinking having a softer clutch after a 50k, the truck seemed like a wise decision. Also, if I was unable to drive, I would feel less concerned leaving the truck at the start line for a short while.
Traffic was light at 6:00 AM on a Saturday morning, I easily navigated my way to Blue Diamond Road, Lovell Canyon – Here I Come! Passing Mountain’s Edge, I began seeing the tell tale signs of runners in cars, the distance stickers, runner apparel, and that look of determination.
With the radio on, I was getting in the zone, cruising along and steadily getting closer to the start line.
That is when the entire day went to Hell in a hand basket. I started to smell coolant, looked down and saw the temperature gauge was absolutely pegged in the red. Turning on the heater, as I pulled off the road, I was shocked and confused that the heater was blowing out cool air, rather than hot air.
Grabbing my phone, I was going to try and source a ride from anyone I could reach. The desert West of Las Vegas, on Blue Diamond Road, is rather sparsely populated, in addition to the reduced residents per acre ratio, there was an utter lack of cellular coverage where I stopped.
Looking forward, the grade was steep, I couldn’t see the summit and did not want to risk trying to drive up the hill while overheating. Waiting until traffic was gone, I made the decision to turn around and coast down the mountain. Every time my phone would look like it had service, I would pull off to the side and try to send a text or make a phone call. Every time, I was rewarded with a ‘No Service’ error message.
15-20 minutes worth of this down hill coasting finally lead to locating a spot where I was able to send texts and make phone calls. Of course, my wife was unable to hear me, and my texts did not go through to her. Finally, after a few attempts, we were able to speak with each other on the phone. She was going to head out and pick me up.
After that, I coasted down the hill some more, trying to find a safer spot on the side of the road to wait. Climbing out of the truck, I sat on the roof as the morning sun was rising over the horizon. I contemplated the eight months worth of events and training that had preceded my sitting roadside.
I realized, I could have pulled my bag out and started walking, surely another competitor or traveler would stop to get me to the start line. The problem with that would have been, my wife not knowing where I was, as I could not get any service on my phone.
Defeated, I tried to enjoy the cool desert air. That became a potentially painful thing to do, as a number of rather large bumble bees began to fly around the truck – most likely attracted by the sweet smell of burning coolant, as they hovered closer and closer to my legs, arms and head, I took the cautious route and moved into my truck’s cab.
After a while, the cab heated up in the sun’s direct light, the bumble bees seemed to have moved on, back into the truck bed I went. Sitting in the shade, enjoying what I could of the day, I waited. And I waited some more.
45-50 minutes later I heard the distinctive sound of a Subaru’s Boxer rumble, and was fortunate enough to have my wife look up, and across the road, to see me on the shoulder, facing East. Hopping into her car, we made our way to the convenience store a few miles down the road. Buying out their entire inventory of coolant, we drove back to the truck. It drank a majority of the first jug of coolant. Curious if that would do the trick, we started down the road, intent on heading straight to a friend’s shop.
No more than five minutes down the road, the temperature gauge climbed back through the red, strongly holding itself against the peg. Pulling off again, we let the truck sit, double check coolant levels and try back down the road again.
Approaching the first traffic signal as it was green, I was hopeful. Of course, hope is not always indicative of how things will go. Turning yellow as we approached, the truck again began to have the temperature gauge rapidly traverse the gamut of temperatures, holding itself firmly to the high temperature peg, as if its life depended on it.
Watching the gauges, and the traffic lights, I held onto hope that the truck would stay running long enough to get through the intersection. This time, luck was on my side, I was able to make it out of the intersection and safely park in a spot outside a pharmacy.
Grabbing my phone, I contacted a tow truck company and waited another hour for them to arrive. After leading them to Uehara Motowerks, they dropped the truck off their truck, I discussed the issues with Mori and headed home. Being almost 10:30 AM, there would be no way to make it to the start line. I would have been too mad and fixated on “making up time” to pace myself safely for the 31 mile race distance attempt.
My attempt at Calico Racing’s Progressive Slam died that morning. After starting with the Twilight Red Rock Half Marathon in September 0f 2013, I moved onto the Hoover Dam Full Marathon December, 2013. Half way through the attempt, a mechanical failure killed my chances. Had I started the run and not been able to finish, I would have been sad, but only at myself for not preparing properly. Now, though, I am mad at myself for not being 100% positive I had a vehicle to reliably get me to the start line.
Now, it is time to look at the race calendar and see what I can do in the mean time. I am itching to run, and will probably run with a fire that may cause me to imitate a bottle rocket, at least I will be running.
September, 2014 may be the month I restart my Progressive Slam attempt, where it began the first time.