Friday, July 27, 2007

Sean Meissner's 2007 Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Race Report

Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run
2007 USATF National 100 Mile Trail Championship
Sean Meissner's Race Report

Here's the short report:
DNF, mile 76
severe hypothermia, which also resulted in a completely empty tank

Longer report:
I started the day feeling great and cruising very easily. I ran with Jasper (winner in 18:16) through most of the first 17 miles to Tunnel aid station. I weighed in at 140 (starting weight was 137), then I stopped a bit longer to get my things together at the aid station, and Jasper took off. I continued feeling great and cruising to Mt. Rose, mile 26, where I arrived in 4th place in 4:32, just minutes behind the leaders. I purposely drank a bit less running to Mt. Rose to get my weight back down, and it worked, as I was 137. My friend Thomas' wife, Valerie, and father-in-law were there to give me a can of Chicken & Stars, some fruit, water, and I was off (there was even a cool picture of me in the Incline Village newspaper drinking the Chicken & Stars).

I enjoyed seeing all of the other 100 milers, and most of the 50 milers as I ran the 9 miles back to Tunnel. All of my friends seemed to be rocking! I weighed in again at Tunnel, 137, so the weight was still good. I dropped my bottles here and picked up my Nathan hydration pack, just for something different. I continued cruising the next 15 miles back to the Start/Finish area at mile 50. In that stretch, I climbed Snow Valley Peak, 1,300' vertical in 2.8 miles. I felt super going up that - it was a perfect, runnable climb for me. At the top, mile 43, I still weighed 137. I grabbed some hunks of cantelope and was headed downhill for 7 miles to the 1/2 way point.

I arrived at Spooner Lake, mile 50, in 9:07 (I planned to be there between 9:00-9:15), and I felt like a rock star. I weighed 137, so no problems there. I sat for the first time in the race in the shade for about 5 minutes, eating and drinking, while Valerie refilled my pack and Laura helped me cool off. Thomas finished the 50 mile while I was there, winning in 8:10! After hollering at him and giving a thumbs-up, I was gone for lap 2.

I felt great heading out, knowing exactly what was coming up, and when I was going to push it. About mile 53, I started to feel low on energy. So I downed a gu. Shortly after, my stomach started cramping. So I took a salt tablet. My stomach was painful, and I couldn't run anymore. So I walked the rest of the way to the aid station at mile 56. I sat in the shade again, drank 2 cups of broth and some Sprite, ate more cantelope, then decided I needed to hit the trail (the next day, a fellow-runner told me I was white as a ghost at that aid station). I felt a little better so ran and walked to the Tunnel aid station at mile 61. I weighed in at 137, but my tummy was really cramping. Going downhill in the Red House loop, my stomach hurt so much that I had to walk and bend over so the pain wasn't so severe. Through all of this, I kept my calorie intake at around 250 per hour, and kept taking a salt tablet every 45 minutes.

I eventually made it out of the Red House loop at 7 p.m. and I was freezing. The sun was still up and it was plenty warm, but I wasn't. I weighed in again, 136, so the aid station people said I was fine. I sat here for 15 minutes, eating soup, pb&j, and other food, while also putting on my long sleeve shirt, jacket, hat, and gloves. I knew it was going to be a long 9 miles back to Mt. Rose at mile 76. I left at 7:15, with a cup of hot soup in each handed, and shivering from being so cold.

A mile later, as I was warming up, I heard a noise in the bushes to my right. I looked up and saw a fat coyote with weird ears. Hey, that's not a coyote - that's a brown bear! Cool! I continued power walking towards Mt. Rose, wondering when I would see the leaders coming back. Soon enough, Jasper was flying towards me. Finally, around 9 p.m., it was dark enough to turn on my emergency lights (I had my big lights at Mt. Rose). As it got darker, the wind died down, but the weather got colder, and I continued getting slower. Seeing others out on the course, both on their way back from Mt. Rose and passing me, didn't seem to help at all. I sent word with a few runners to let my crew know that it was going to be a while until I got to Mt. Rose.

Finally, at 10 p.m., I got to a creek crossing about 1/2 mile from Mt. Rose. It was a steady climb to the aid station that took me 5 minutes the first time out. This time, it took me 30 minutes. I was completely drained of all energy and shivering uncontrollably. Although I had kept eating and drinking in these 9 miles, the calories were going to try to keep me warm instead of to my legs for strength. Just before the aid station, I puked a couple of times.

I finally stumbled into the aid station at 10:30, where Thomas immediately grabbed me and walked me to the scale. I just wanted to lay down and get warm, but I had to weigh first. Still 137. Then I layed down, and Laura and Valerie put 4 or 5 blankets on me to try to get me warm. After 10 minutes, I was still shivering uncontrollably. An aid station worker said since my weight was right on, I just needed some soup then would be good to go. I don't think so. I felt really nauseous, so I did drink two cups of soup to feel better. They made me temporarily feel better, until I puked them up after a few more minutes. Oddly, that made my nausea go away, but I was still a shivering fool.

It was then that I knew for sure my run was over at mile 76. I had been laying under 5 blankets for over 45 minutes, was still freezing, and couldn't keep any calories down to even help warm me. Thomas and Valerie generously took me to their condo in Incline Village, where I took a long, hot shower, ate the best mac and cheese ever, and finally passed out on their couch. Laura got word to my friends who were waiting for me at the finish of my situation. During all of this, Laura, Valerie, and Thomas were my little saviours. They were definitely there for me to save my sorry, freezing butt.

My stomach was still sore and cramping for a couple days after my 76 miler. I really need to figure out why that happened, then not have it happen again (any suggestions?). But this race definitely confirmed something that I have always believed: just because you're weight is right on, doesn't mean you are. I think there is far too much emphasis put on a runner's weight in 100s. That is just a small part of the whole picture.

I'm happy with my effort to really go for it at Tahoe and know that sometime, somewhere, there is a 100 out there that I'll actually run well. Thanks to everyone for your support, encouragement, and concern.



olga said...

Sean, what a bummer, and how I remember that horrific pain in a stomach that makes you bend over and walk downhill (last WS100)! As well as hypothermia from Wasatch. You had a combo, and that is tough, especially when you are going for a fast race. Glad you are peaceful about it, and hope to see you somewhere soon.

Peter Lubbers said...

Hey Sean,
Sorry your race did not go as planned. Something about that 53-mile point -- I also ran a great first half (10:15), but then I kind of ran out of juice at mile 53 and pretty much walked the rest of the race for a 27:50.

Not to worry, I am sure you're going to smoke the competition at the upcoming Tahoe 72 miler, though!