Saturday, March 20, 2010

DNF at Mudlands 2010

I've officially registered my first DNF (did not finish).  From the middle of the pack at Rocky Raccon, to a last place finish at Cross Timbers, to a DNF today at Grasslands, my decline has been precipitous.  I don't really have any excuses.  I just lost my will to go on after the 19 mile start/finish aid station, so I turned back, got my BBQ sandwich, and went home.

I should say first of all that this is a terrific race.  I love the casual atmosphere and the well-stocked, well-manned aid stations provided by North Texas Trail Runners, the race sponsor.  Race directors Kevin and Stacie Boudreaux are to be commended for their hard work in hosting the race.  Great job by them and the many volunteers!
Char Thompson, NTTR President, and Tia,
who will be so happy that I posted this picture.

I ran the marathon at Grasslands last year so was looking forward to returning for the 50 miler.  Today the weather was a big factor in the race.  At the start, it was raining pretty hard.  That didn't last long; it soon turned to sleet, which I guess is an improvement, since it just bounces off you.  The rain and sleet ended within an hour or hour and a half or so, but the heavy rains overnight on the already saturated ground took their toll on the trails.

One thing I love about trail running is the variety.  Instead of running on a consistent asphalt or concrete surface, as in a road race, you get a feel for more varied terrain.  Grasslands certainly offered a variety: there was brown mud, red mud, and black mud, sticky mud, sloshy mud, slippery mud, packed mud, and flowing mud, muddy streams running across the trail, muddy streams that were the trail, muddy pools on the trail, and muddy trails through muddy pools.  There was grassy mud, and muddy grass.  Oh, and every now and then the course followed short parts of muddy roads.  And in between all the muddy sections, there were more muddy sections.
Yeah, it was muddy.

Besides the mud, it turned out to be quite a bit colder than I expected.  It started out in the high 30s, I suppose, and I fully expected it to warm up as the day went on.  It didn't.  It became progressively colder and windier.  I was wearing only shorts, a long-sleeved shirt, and a parka.  As I left the 19 mile aid station, I realized I was almost to the point of shivering.  Between the cold, the mud in which I could hardly walk, much less run, and the simple desire to get home and spend some time with my family, I decided to call it a day.  About 6:45 it started snowing at my house, about 40-50 miles southeast of Grasslands, and had gotten much windier.  I'm glad I was not out on the trail, dressed as I had been in the morning.

So I came home and showered, then spent the afternoon and evening with my family.  I did some laundry and cleaned up the kitchen.  Zippy and I went to Gamestop to get a new video game.  We all watched Baylor's awesome NCAA tournament victory over Old Dominion--Sweet 16 here we come!  We had dinner together.  I put the boys to bed.  I went to bed with Kelly at a decent hour.  And I had to ask myself, in what universe would I really rather be cold and miserable, slogging through the mud, trying to reach a finish line 50 miles away?


  1. Paul,
    Fantastic description of the conditions! You are a brave soul for even getting out of the car because I certainly didn't. I stuck a hand out the window and said, Hell No. Chalk it up to a character builder and move on! Loved this post, brother! Good luck in your next race! Peace!

  2. Looks like you needed a 4-wheeler ATV for that race. Sorry you only made 19. I am sure next time you will finish.

  3. You totally made the right decision!

  4. I dig the mud pic! :) It was an...interesting day. :) I am inspired by everyone that simply started the day.