I didn't plan to DNF at the Bear 100. No one ever does, I think. But when the weather forecast was looking like it was pointing to signs of an early winter, my thoughts raced back to March at the Buffalo 100, where I dropped at mile 50 because my knee seized up and I couldn't run. I was able to walk 15 miles to the start/finish aid station back then and get credit for a 50-mile race finish, albeit a slow one.
You'd think I would do well in the cold. I grew up in Michigan in the 1970s when it seems that we had record blizzards every winter. But I do remember back in high school and once after college, playing soccer so hard in the cold that my quad muscles were strained so badly that I couldn't lift my foot from the gas to the brake pedal in the car. In Germany, the second time it happened, I hobbled into my surrogate Oma's house and she reprimanded me for playing so hard, then wrapped my quads in herbal tincture.
The Bear 100 this year would not be what it was last year: 75 degrees and sunny, finding me at my second 100-mile finish. I'm consoled this year by the fact that I did finish the Bear last year and was able to prove that my Wasatch 100 finish of 2011 was not a fluke. I finished the Bighorn 100 this year, too, and am so grateful for that painful, well-earned finish.
I won't go into the details of my Bear run this year. Suffice it to say that I was surrounded by people who love me and care about my welfare. I am humbled by the fact that people will comfort me when the run brings me to tears. In that respect, I am very lucky.
My mind turns now to redemption. Several runs are lining up in the next 3 to 4 weeks and I am holding myself back from registering for any one of them. Maybe I'll run, and maybe I won't. For now, I will relish in my past finishes and think of how many good runs I had this year, trying not to let this one bad day over shadow the others.