Saturday, September 17, 2011

Diablo DNF

El Diablo is the devil. That little devil lives on the estate known as Mount Diablo. His house is on top of a really big hill. This weekend, that damn Diablo possessed the Dude.

Endorphin Dude esta poseido por el diablo!!

It all started two nights before I was supposed to run in circles around Crissy Field. I came home from work and received news of Pacific Coast Trail Race’s SF One Day cancellation “due to an emergency situation.” This message sent me into panic mode, as I really needed this event.  Every race counts from this point on, and any missed marathon could be very detrimental to my Titanium quest.

The SF One Day race was supposed to have been my easy 50k. My plan for the weekend was to leisurely walk a 50k in about 9 hours and save my legs for the NorCal Marathon in San Jose the next day. The latter race had a strict 6.5 hour time limit so I really needed to save all my energy for it. Imagine my disappointment when I received that cancellation email. As upset as I was, I feared that my running partner in crime would have already ended up in the emergency room, or worst off, the morgue, after hearing the news! Ultra Woof was counting on SF One Day to hit 88 miles. That’s her Chinese double infinity magical number. Quite frankly, I don’t get it. For me, it’s all about 13.1, 26.2, 50k, 50 miles, 100k, or 100 miles. What the heck is 88?  Maybe the eights turned to the side look like little dumplings in her won ton soup of life, and that’s why those numbers work for her. Woofie is a big mystery, so I take everything that comes out of her head for what it is. In any case, she had not checked her email, so I was the one who broke this news to her. She was not happy.

The two of us went into panic mode and desperately searched for plan B. We found Coastal Trail's Diablo Marathon and 50k and immediately jumped on it. Completely on impulse, I registered right away, not giving any thought to the fact that Diablo in Spanish translates to “the devil,” and that this was one of the more challenging courses in the Bay Area. Nonetheless, I needed this race. My biggest hurdle for this weekend was to get through Diablo and then follow suit at the NorCal Marathon the next day. I really needed this double. My plan of action was to take one or two photos to document the day and then stick that bad boy in the Camelback.

It's like the never ending climb.
And more climbing.
Even more climbing.
Now there's the understatement of the day! 
Simply breath taking. Yes, El Diablo sucked out all the oxygen out of my lungs!

I'm just going to cut to the chase. This marathon nearly killed me, and I mean that in the very literal sense. By the time I got to mile 17, it felt like the blazing hot sun burned through my skull and fried my brain. I became very dehydrated and dizzy. I had to beg hikers for food and water when my H2O supply and GU ran out.  The longer I stayed out in the open field, the hotter it got and the weaker I became.  Nonetheless, I kept chugging along. When I hit the mile 19 mark, my body couldn't take it any more, and I collapsed in the middle of the trail with nobody around. With the little energy that I had left, I lifted my head off the ground and unleashed a technicolor yawn so intense that I felt my whole body rock. It was at that pathetic moment that it hit me: El Diablo made a milquetoast of Endorphin Dude.

I sat on that dirt trail for the next 20 minutes to regain my strength. So many flies circled me that I felt and looked like a three day old half eaten salami sandwich in the dumpster. Once my head cleared and my legs had enough power to stand upright, I got up and back tracked my way to the main drag, where I knew I would be safe. I inched my way down that road with the hope of hitch hiking to the finish line. The only problem was that I had no clue where that was. I did manage to make it all the way to the park ranger's station, but unfortunately he was nowhere to be found. I sat down on the bench outside the station and rested my head and neck against the wall. I did not look good.

A few minutes later, a nice local couple pulled over to fill up their water bottles and saw me looking like I was near death. The woman inquired if I was ok and I sheepishly responded, "No, I'm dying here." After I said that, I thought to myself, "Hmm, I don't want this lady to think that I'm literally dying here," so I rephrased my sad situation. "I'm feeling pretty awful. I'm at mile 19 of my marathon and I just don't think I will be able to make it." The nice couple graciously offered to give me a ride, and I happily accepted.  Because I had no idea where the finish line was, I asked them to take me all the way back to the summit because I knew where to go from there. I got in their SUV and stretched my legs out the best I could, as I knew that I would have to walk another 2.3 miles to get to that second aid station. Sitting in that vehicle with the air conditioner blasting in my face gave me enough energy to bounce back, at least for the 2.3 miles.

When we reached the top of the summit, I thanked the couple for the ride and dragged myself down to the aid station, where I was greeted by the only volunteer left. As I approached the station, I noticed him quickly pulling out his phone to notify the race director that I had been located. Apparently, the reason why the park ranger was not at his station was because he was on his dune buggy searching for me!  In any case, the volunteer gave a ride to the finish line. Of course, I had to leave my final mark on Mount Diablo by hurling on the side of road multiple times due to car sickness. Once every ounce of that evil el diablo shot out of my system, I came to the sad conclusion that I had to accept the fact that I DNF'ed at Diablo.

I did receive a consolation prize in that the race director gave me credit for a half marathon. While it's nice to have this race count toward Half Fanatics, it clearly does nothing for my Titanium quest.  I took a big risk this weekend and in the end it cost me dearly. Not only did I DNF at Diablo, but I also DNS'ed at the NorCal Marathon the following day. After my Diablo exorcism, there was absolutely no way I could have run that second marathon this weekend. In hindsight, I probably should have just rested on Saturday and save my legs for the Sunday race. I took a huge gamble and it blew up in my face. At the end of the day, I limped away with zero marathons this weekend, a devastating blow to my Titanium quest. This does not bode well for me, one week before the biggest hurdle of the year: the Tahoe Triple. It is what it is, live and learn. Even my dog felt bad for me.

Life is ruff ruff. Sorry Endorphin Dude.


  1. Sounds like a rough one Endorphin Dude. But, I am very happy you lived to run another day. Keep going!!!

  2. I think that your efforts at Diablo better prepared you for the Triple - way better than your original "easy" (HA!) plan might have. But still, this was an amazing body blow for your quest. (Love the red face!)

  3. You rock Endorphin Dude! Luv the pics on this page! Very creative work :)