Sunday, May 3, 2009

Marin Headlands 3, Geoff Roes 0

I've not run that many ultras but enough to know that I am fortunate to have a really strong stomach during endurance races. I generally just eat whatever I want, whenever I want during races and my stomach never bothers me. That all changed yesterday.

It was especially frustrating because everything besides my stomach felt great. My chest cold didn't seem to bother me at all, my legs felt very strong from the start, and I was running a very efficient and comfortable race.

Right from the beginning though I started to notice that everything I ate/drank seemed to be just hanging out in my stomach, which was steadily filling up and becoming uncomfortable. When I finally puked for the first time (about mile 24) it felt so good to have all that liquid out of my stomach. I knew I needed to get calories and water in as soon as possible though or I would pay dearly later on. I couldn't though.

At that point of the race I had only consumed 500 calories (about half of what I should have) and had just vomited all of it up on the side of the trail. Anything I tried to get down just made me feel horrible. I decided to slow down and give it some time and hope that my body would accept food and water sooner or later. I was running in the lead most of the day but by about mile 35 I really began to realize how much trouble I was in. I slowed considerably hoping that would help my stomach and that maybe I could find some way to get myself to the finish in one of the top 3 spots to still qualify for Western States.

It wasn't goint to happen though. As I continued to vomit I began to feel less and less able to find any energy to keep moving down the trail. I was basically totally bonking with 25 miles to go and had no ability to get any calories in my system to do anything about it.

Eric Grossman (Montrail teammate who went on to win the race) passed me just after I pulled into the aid station at mile 42. I sipped some coke and tried to head back out. A couple hundred yards up the trail and I was hurled over vomiting again. This time was different though. The first few times I puked it made me feel so relieved to have my system cleared out. This time though I just had no energy left in my muscles. I sat down on the side of the trail (because it took too much strength to stand) and almost immediately decided I was done.

I ended up out on the trail for over 5.5 hours in which time I consumed about 600 calories and maybe 40 ounces of water (both about 1/3 normal). It was a very frustrating and disappointing way to go out of a race, especially one in which everything else felt really good. It is what it is though. There's nothing I can do about it now, except learn from my experiences. I have a couple guesses as to what went wrong so now I need to use all this info. to help avoid something like this happening in the future.

Not qualifying for Western States is unfortunate, but again, there's nothing I can do about it now so I'm not going to spend my time getting too bent out of shape about it. I still haven't figured out just where my racing focus is going to shift to in the next several weeks but I'll be working all that out in my mind in the next several days. In some ways it's kind of exciting not to know. I'd be lying if I said I'm not bummed that I won't be lining up at Western States as I had hoped, but I will be lining up somewhere again soon, and I'll be a stronger and more determined runner as a result of yesterday's experiences.


Andrew Brautigam said...

That sucks, Geoff. Stomach issues are really hard to deal with. I thought about just spending the night in the woods during a MTB ultra once I bonked so hard. I hope your recovery goes well and you are feeling better soon.

Unknown said...

Sorry to hear that Geoff! I hope you get it all sorted for the next one which I am sure you will tear up.

Anonymous said...

It may have been related to your "chest cold". Regardless, it's just a blip on the chart and not something like a long term injury that took you out. WS will be there next year for you and maybe you'll be better prepared with another year of racing and learning.

Selfishly, I'm hoping now that I'll get to meet you at Big Horn next month. It's shaping up to be a fairly competitive race with some quick guys signing up. Obviously not WS but a beautiful course (from what I hear) and much less stress and pressure.

Hone said...

All of those WS contenders are breathing a sigh of relief at your DNF. They will sleep better tonight knowing that the Alaskan is out of the mix.

I think you should listen to footfeathers and run the Big Horn and skip SD. I am tired of gettng my ass kicked by you all of the time and want to be the first Alaskan for once. =)

Unknown said...

Hey Geoff,

Sorry 'bout the stomach. You shoulda ate Taco Bell! No doubt you should be @ WS based on your previous results - maybe they can make an exception?? If they will let me, I will give you my slot. There's no way I'm gonna try the WS/HR combo.

Nice to have finally met you.

Foggy Mountain Shop said...

We are so sorry to hear about your stomach problems during the race. I had a very bad stomach bug (sudden and violent - yuk) about two weeks ago and one of the guys at work just came down with it on Friday. Do you think you caught a virus of some kind? Sounds suspiciously familiar. Hope you recover o.k. and have a great "next race"! Betsy and Scott, Foggy Mountain Shop

Olga said...

Wow, Scot is talking! Wonder if they eat it up at WS board? Can you beg Montrail to get you a spot as suggested on Karl's blog? Bottom line is, shit happens - it's just unfortunate it happens when you're trying to get in. On a flip coin, it could have happen at Western? I agree, Bighorn is so much better than SD for you, and you do have Hardrock in the card to go against Karl - and after Kyle's time...I am sorry Miwok didn't pan out. I am. Don't take my bunter lightly.

Paul Charteris said...

Sorry to hear about your stomach trouble Geoff. That sounds like more than an upset stomach it sounds like a full-bodied gastric rebellion. I know it was cool and wet out there so losing calories like that would have sapped the strength out of anyone.

All the best for your running season.

Scott, that's a wonderful gesture but I am pretty sure there's a 0% chance of transferring a Western States entry.

Cheers, Paul

Sara Montgomery said...

Geoff - Sorry to hear you had a rough day. :(

Keith said...

What a bummer -- we Geezers were following and rooting for you. Is that the last possibility for qualifying this year? (I have no idea how WS works.)

Speedgoat Karl said...

silly belly! ultrarunning can be cruel sometimes. forget about and move on! If Western wanted all the fast guys in the dance they would invite a few guys and not make some qualify, simply because they are already "qualified" from previous results. Kyle, myself, you, and a handful of others should be at Squaw to make it the best race. Montrail bought out the right for runners to "qualify". In reality, it should work like Pikes Peak. They save roughly ten spots for elite runners to apply late, then choose ten or so and allow them to run. This format should be allowed at many top ultras, it would make for far better comp at big races, and faster guys wouldn't have to send in 5 apps in January for the races hoping to get in, erspecially if money is an issue. Funny thing is, to me the race committee worries about the money, but where's the prize money at WS? Being the most competitive 100 in the US, it should have the biggest prize......shit, I give a lousy 100 bucks to win the Speedgoat 50k! It may be the toughest 50k, but not the most competitive. My two cents!

Brett said...

Awesome you were leading for so long...that tells you how good you are. Sucks you had to drop. But keep it in perspective with just two words: HARD ROCK.

Anonymous said...


I am sorry that your stomach acted up AND you had to drop. It is weird when you can feel so prepared for a race and then something rather unexpected happens and you just cannot finish (as you know, I have been there and done that). I KNOW you are a fantastic runner and will continue to burn up the trails whatever you decide to do next. I'll be following you!! Anne in Anchorage

Jennoit said...

So sorry Geoff....we watched for the results and I am sorry Miwok didn't work out for you. I still look forward to reading about the next great race though - there will be one :)

Anonymous said...

Reading this after your recent 18:30 makes me wonder how you now feel. You may have just turned in one of the best performances of the year, so stomach issues back in May are no big deal (wish we could remember that during our low times). Jeff B.