100 miles of Istria 2018-Blue 110Km: Learning from DNF

My experiences with 100 Miles of Istria  date back to 2013. That year I ran my second race in the 100km range together with my friend Anders which I hiked most of the PCT in 2011 with. We finished in somewhat like over 18 hours. I came back in 2015, this time I wanted the full Istria experience. I entered the 100 mile race. I failed. I tried again in 2016 and finished the whole thing in under 24 hours. One year later I failed the same distance again. Now on to this years race, the blue course, from Lovran to…Groznjan.

 

Having had some good race experiences in 2017 one thing was sure. I did not want to „just“ finish this race, I wanted to know how fast I can finish this race. I wanted to race and I did from the beginning. This is not very smart and I know that. Not at that distance and not this early in the year with some key training sessions missing because of this and that but mostly because of a long winter in the Alps.

The start from Lovran is relentless. From sealevel up to the highest point on Mt. Vojak in 1300 vertical meters. Road, stairs, trail, snow, mud, water until the treeline is behind and a windy, rocky ridge is leading to the summit where the course drops down into the first aid station. I know the downhill pretty well, on the 100 mile course you have allready more than 30km in the legs, so it was nice to run it on relatively fresh legs this time. The snow and mud however did it not make too easy.
For the first time I have noticed that it was a bad Idea to run with a smaller, lighter headlamp. Because of the dim light I had to focus too much on not missing the course markings. Also it was obvious that the dim light is making me more sleepy than the light from my Lupine lamp. However that was the situation for now and I had to deal with it for the next 5 hours.

The night was cold again, last year I did not take the time to dress, so my DNF was a result of needing to much energy to keep my body temperature. This year I learned and dressed aproppriate to the temperature which was just around freezing. I noticed some changes in the course, I have some favourite parts on the course which I was looking forward to like the technical part before  CP2 in Brgudac which was rerouted over wide forest track. After the aid station we went up a part of that downhill and turned west later. I loved the technical sections which broke up the monotony and fast running from the forest roads. I passed more and more runners from the 100 mile course, occasionally some words of motivation where shared along the way. We were all together in the deep, dark, cold and muddy forest looking for our limits. If only we could bottle that energy and turn it into something usefull!

My mental game was not very strong and I asked myself questions which you should not ask yourself especially not during a race of that kind. I noticed that my focus is not 100% where it should be. I tend to get bored on sections where you don´t have to focus on the terrain. I always looked forward to the technical parts of the course so the downhill into Buzet was something I was very happy about.

 

 

By the time I reached Buzet (km60) the sun was allready out and a bright blue day was awakening. I missed my prefered split time for Buzet by about 20mins, but I knew that this time goal was illusional. I felt good running into the big sports hall where I picked up my drop bag and got assisted by Evelyne who ran a faboulus race at the 70k  which was about to start from Buzet later. But I noticed that I had problems talking to her. I felt like drunk, which could be a result of dehydration. So I took care of that. Because of the cold temperatures and my „in and out“ aid station strategy, I did not take care enough about my fluid intake. Which was of course the next big mistake. However I noticed it now and downed some liquids, grabbed some gels, changed into a lighter shirt, dropped the headlamp for a lighter one and went out again.

I felt the effort, but was still able to run and not overly concerned in not making it. The next stretch was the longest without an aid station. 19 Kilometers where I did not see a soul expect some of the crew from the race. At this point of the race I was in a mental state where time and distance as such did not matter anymore. I was just focused on getting one foot in front of the other, trying not to stumble and fall over roots and rocks on the trail. I was looking forward to meet my parents at the next aid station which where willing to crew me from there. My parents allready where awaiting me, we chatted a little bit, which was kind of uplifting. I drank and took care of my nutrition and made my way towards the course. When I entered the CP the runner in 5th position just left. I kind of knew that I might not catch him, so I took some more time. When I left, a young Norwegian runner just entered. We talked a few words. I think he followed me also in the descent into Buzet but he held back, saving energy. A smart man.

At that point I had no idea nor initial thoughts of quitting at the next CP 11 km later. I left before him but soon noticed that he caught up, I did not care too much I did not speed up or anything. I just tried to keep moving steady. Just before Groznjan he made the move and overtook me and from that moment I noticed that my stride is not there anymore. I was just able to shuffle my legs back and forth. My hamstrings got completly tight down over my knees into the calfs. I just had wooden sticks instead of legs from one minute to the other. I know the feeling of running on stiff or hurting legs, but this was different. I immediatly started walking, I grabbed a gel and a salt capsule and downed that with my left water supplies. I walked about 300 meters and tried to start running again. I could not. Entering the aid station I told my parents that this is it. I am going to quit.

They remembered me of my race last year  where similar problems occurred. I told them before the race they should not let me quit too fast, instead I should take my time, sit down, rest my legs up high, eat & drink. So I did that, I tried all kinds of thins to get me going again, but with the resting my temperature also dropped and I fell into a kind of shiffering state. I got really cold even the sun was out. I stood up, which was very hard with stiff legs and tried to get into a running stride again. After a couple of meters I returned and realised that it was over. Which was hard, because I really wanted that top ten finish. I felt not overly tired nor weak, my legs where just unable to move.

I have failed to cross that finish line again but gave all that I had that day. Racing and and going for a finish are totally different approaches. In this sport both are very hard in their own unique way. I dont want to loose my passion for this sport in taking approaches I did not enter it for. I am personally not very competitive. I think faster times and therefore higher goals evolve with training and experience. For now I go back to the basics. Taking the slow, controlled and hopefully progressive route up the mountain.

Thanks to the ambitious support of the volounteers along the way, to Alen and his crew for putting on a great trail running event again and congrats to all the finishers and limit seekers out there. Keep it up!

Link to my gps log

 

2 Responses

  1. Hallo Matthias,
    danke für deinen ehrlichen Bericht. Er zeigt das, was Felix Gottwald jüngst in einem Vortrag gesagt hat. Das Merkmal aller Siegertypen ist, dass sie viel öfter verloren als gewonnen haben. Das besondere daran ist, dass sie es immer wieder versucht haben. Dir alles Gute, erhol dich gut und mach weiter Projekte, die dir Spaß machen.
    lg V. R.-H.

    3. Mai 2018 at 16:32

    • Matthias

      Vielen Dank Volker! Eigentlich will ich ja nur Weitwandern 🙂
      Viel Spass wünsche ich bei deinen GTA Vorbereitungen!
      LG Matthias

      3. Mai 2018 at 17:04

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