Saturday, September 25, 2010

Virgil Crest: I shouldn’t have clicked submit

Ok, so Virgil Crest is still taking place as I write this, so WTF am I doing blogging? Well, in case you didn’t see the online updates or my twitter, I dropped…and dropped fairly early I might add at 25miles, or as Eric pointed out 40kms which does sound a little better.

I’m a bit disappointed, but not devastated or anything. The writing was on the wall. This was my first race in over a year and I may have rushed things just a wee bit in the race department. I had signed up for the 100mile, but my main goal going into the race was to get in 50miles in under 11 hours to be able to put my name into the Western States lottery. Virgil allows an official 50mile time if you sign up for the 100 but decide to drop after 50miles. I felt that this was a good option for me and highly doubted that I would be able to continue on for the full 100, but just wanted to keep the door open just in case.

Looking back on my training log, I should have realized that it was very stupid to try to attempt 50 yet, let alone even thinking of 100. July was still a write-off training/fitness wise, August was only a little better. And, I was only able to cram in a 4 and 5 hour run in early September, plus pacing Keith for 6hrs at Haliburton. Not ideally the type of training that I would normally do for any ultra distance race, especially considering I hadn’t raced in so long. I guess you always hope that you can get by if you run smart. Hope is a dirty 4 letter word though and you need to KNOW. I think deep down beforehand I knew it was a mistake.

The strange thing about it is that I feel that if it had been run on a little more runnable course, that I might have been ok. Virgil is tough. In fact, it’s the toughest course I have run on with 20,000ft in elevation in the 100. That was the big thing that got me. My fitness was lacking, PLUS I hadn’t done the specific training that I needed for a tough course like this. The ascents up the ski hills were brutal. I don’t think that there were many who were able to actually run many of the uphills, and then the braking of the downhills were tough too. That seemed to be the pattern of the course, you were either climbing up or braking coming down. I don’t want to sound like I’m whining, as Jeff Browning ran an awesome race on the course last year, however they added a few more miles this year which made the course that much more challenging with the addition of more elevation change and single track.

Anyhow, I wasn’t ready for this and realized this fairly early. I started the race as relaxed as possible and definitely felt like I was holding back early. The first parts I found were quite possible to run within myself. I began to struggle though when we started climbing. The ups and downs really beat up my body and due to the lack of base mileage over the summer; I had nothing to fall back on in addition to not having done a hill phase for a race like this either.

When I’m fit, I usually start feeling stronger after about 4hrs into a race. Today, I started to feel very rough at 3hrs and kept getting worse. I had a couple of good pukes, but it was more about there just being no strength in my body on that type of course. I may have been able to keep going a little while longer, but I essentially knew that my body was not ready to keep going without risking something that I was not prepared to risk on the day.

Structure wise, I’m feeling good and even feel pretty good now after a tough 25miles of the race. I honestly feel that my injury is behind me and that within a few days I can get back into hard training. That is what motivates me and gets me excited.

Yes, I should never have toed the line, however if I hadn’t then I always would have wondered if maybe, just maybe, I could have snuck in a decent race and sped up the return to competition. Unfortunately though, there is no bluffing a race in a 100 miler, especially like Virgil, without doing the work…and that is what I need to do before my next race.

While I am a little disappointed that I’m not a little further along in my fitness right now, it is good to know exactly what I need to do, and I have the green light to do it now that I am healthy.

I’ve told many of my coaching clients in the past that no matter whether you have a good race or a sub par race, the motivation should always be there following the race to train hard. I am certainly very motivated, now that I’m healthy, and can’t wait to hit the trails!

PS. Thanks everyone for all the emails, facebook, twitter and Running Mania comments.


  1. Injury behind you is the best news ever. Takes guts to start and more to stop. Enjoy a fire with the pack and then get back out there. Let me know when you are up for a run, I'm up for the drive.
    Well done!

  2. Hey Rick - Good job on the 25 miles - sounds like a very tough course. Nice that you now have a clear view on what you need to do moving forward, and especially great that your injury is behind you. It's a hard decision to stop - I know from Fuji (OK, I know that's different with the mountain and everything, but sort of the same). Happy training in the weeks ahead!

  3. Been there, done that...And as I've mentioned a few times before: Sometimes, it's good to get your ass kicked (even if it's by yourself!), to know how much more work you have to do (to get to where you want to be). Good effort Derrick - those first few are always tough ones to get through - but the only way to find out is to keep clicking 'submit'.

  4. Hey Derrick,

    I was tracking with interest your run and was sorry to see things didn't work out how you had hoped. That course was tough enough last year, without the new additions! Glad the injury is all better though.

    Do you have a back up plan for a WS qualifier?

    Gotta run,

  5. Dude that blows! Hope your not too disappointed. Its hard not to go out and give it your all. Going down there takes guts man. Its another example of why your an inspiration to so many people. You go for it! your the reason I push myself. In time when your healthy its going to be a show stopper. It just wasn't this weekend. Get home so I can stop drinking beer and go for nice long run already!

  6. Thanks again for the comments folks. Other than some muscle soreness, I feel pretty good today. Knee seems solid and looking forward to testing it on a short shuffle now.

    A little disappointed still that I didn't get something more out of it, but made sense. I underestimated my fitness a little and underestimated the course and my prep for the Vigil course a lot. Was amazed to see the finishing times compared to last year. Tough course, but there were some beautiful sections too. Nice area.

    Not sure about WS now. I am looking at other options. I was hoping to do Stonecat 50 as I really like the course. Unfortunately, it's sold out. I emailed the RD to ask about a waiting list, but haven't heard back. Would like to keep it to a 50m right now, but not many near by in the next little while.

  7. You are a huge source of inspiration for me Derrick. I'm SO sorry that yesterday wasn't your day, but I know that another day will be. Your amazingly positive attitude is a huge benefit and this is another example of that. It's great to hear that while you were hurting, you still appreciated the great beauty around you. Next time will be MUCH better.
    Hugs to you and Sara,

  8. i'm with keith and kim - keep motivating us !!

  9. Pity the poor folks at your next race cause ya WILL be HUNGRY!!
    Maybe once my rehab is finished we should try to hook up for a run.
    All the best dude and take care!!

  10. Sorry that the race didn't turn out as you had hoped for but like you said if you wouldn't have tried you'd always be wondering. So glad to hear that the injury is behind you as that's the main thing. I can see 2011 being a great racing year for you Derrick.

  11. Sure looks like a tough course. As long as you didn't get injured (other than to your pride, of course), it's all good. There will be other races. There's this race in Alaska... Ah, Ah! It's too late for a WS qualifier though. Happy to see you're ok.

  12. Congrats on the gutsy 40K, Rick! Great character call backing off and deferring to your next race - which I'm sure you'll nail!!! You rock!!! Can't wait to hear about your training in the weeks ahead! Enjoy!

    BTW still some knee stuff going on here - arghhh!!! :'(

    Karen xo

  13. Thanks again everyone. Appreciate the comments and nice to see people checking in here.

    Kim...We were really surprised how beautiful the area is. In addition to the vertical, there were just some amazing trails there. Who knew?

    Moogy...let me know if you're ever in the area. We have some awesome trails at Frontenac Park.

    Sue/JD...Yeah, really looking forward to taking the necessary steps to having a great 2011. I keep coming back to Alaska mentally too.

    Karen...Take care of that knee of yours. You have to come home to run Sydenham, 5Peaks or a snowshoe race sometime.

  14. Phil...I keep coming back to your thoughts and am sure that I will find it very motivating in the weeks and months to come.

  15. Yeah, loved Phil's line "but the only way to find out is to keep clicking 'submit'." I think you really need to change the title of the Blog Post, he is so right.

  16. Too bad it turned out the way it did, Derrick, but there are a lot of positives to be taken from the experience: seems like you have recovered from injuries; you have the hunger for going long again; and this was a subtle reminder of what I forget many times myself, in that you can't fake your way through 100 miles without sufficient training and do it on will alone :-) Overall, this is not a DNF, but rather 25 miles... er, 40k :-) more than you would otherwise have done: training for the next 100 miler! Most importantly, I'm glad you're back racing longer stuff.

  17. Thanks Bruce. Though, you're one of the reasons I clicked submit reading about some of the great races you've been running;) Congrats again!