I DNF'd at Winfield, which is the halfway point of the race. Coming into Twin Lakes (mile 39.5), I felt some pain in my left knee, but I wasn't too worried. The pain, however, intensified as I was descending Hope Pass on the southside. By the time I entered Winfield, I'd already made my mind up that it was over. To my family's shock, I had one of the volunteers cut my wrist band. I was very fortunate to have Diana Finkel, multiple-times women's winner at the Hardrock 100, there to counsel me through my decision. She was very supportive and my respect for her is even higher now than it was before.
To say it was an agonizing decision would be an understatement. My pacer, Scott Schrader, had driven up to Leadville to help ME finish this race. My parents and Anne and Noah were up there to support ME. I had so much support--so many people behind me--and so to DNF really cut deep. This was my first DNF ever. It hurts like hell--it's the worst mental hurt I've felt in a long, long time. It's going to take a long time to get over my disappointment.
I'm pretty sure what I have is a case of runner's knee. Structurally, my knee seems to be okay, but on descents the pain is very bad and I have very little strength in my left leg as a result. I guess you could say the course won yesterday. But I do think, having gotten the opinion of others, that the very aggressive deep-tissue massage I got the Monday before the race played a big factor in the issues I experienced during the race. Getting such a hard massage was a mistake.
I'm going to think hard about my future as an ultrarunner. Ultrarunning will always be part of my life, but yesterday I felt like my body came apart on me. Not only was my left knee a major issue, but I fought wicked leg cramps going up Hope Pass. I was just having a bad day, and my knee ultimately was the greater decider as to whether I continued or dropped. But, then again, I just didn't have a lot of fight in me at Winfield. I didn't ask to have my knee taped. With 50 gueling miles still in front of me, I was unwilling to see if I could somehow battle through the very bad pain in my knee. If I had just 20 miles to go, I'd have gutted it out, as I always do. Time-wise, I was doing pretty well--I entered Winfield in about 9:30 (9:15 last year but, with the new trail connecting Hope Pass and Winfield, the course is now longer and harder).
I am thinking about focusing on shorter races in 2013 (and by shorter I mean marathons, which are long to most normal people) and seeing if I can finally get a new marathon PR. I'm sure I'll come back to 100s, but at this point it's hard to imagine doing that in 2013. Sometimes you just need a break. For me, I think a year off from 100s will do wonders for my body...and mind. I've been going pretty hard for six years, and have fought some pretty good battles in that time. At some point damage accrues, and you're left with few other options than just healing. That's where I am now.