My Cremator Experience

On the long bridge during the most exposed part of the race

Well, The CrematorUltra 50 is over and there is no place for me to share in the bragging rights of having finished an incredibly tough race.  Yeah, that’s right, – I got a big DNF.  I didn’t finish the race.  I called it quits around the 30 mile mark.  The heat was the 800 pound gorilla I had to confront and I just could not get past that obstacle.

I still haven’t found out who won and, who all finished the Cremator.  I give a big shout out and kudos to Tim Waz and all of the race organizers and volunteers for putting together an amazing race.  Tim was not only one of the chief organizers of this race but also a runner in it.  I totally hand it to you, Tim – you are the man!  Great job!

I want to give a major shout out to my two crew chiefs, Sam and Delora Hernandez!  They altered their schedules one week after getting married to help me out during this event.  They were there at my beck and call through-out the race.  I would not have gotten as far as I did without them.  They gave all so that I could focus on running this race without any distractions.  When it became obviously clear that this race was over for me Sam walked alongside me on 278 for about a half mile.  By the time we reached the Gum Tree Road exit, Sam and I were in total agreement that the race was over.  Delora picked us up at Gum tree and drove to the closest aid station, the Bike Doctor, and there I made it official that the race was over.  The race director, Paul, was very cool and understanding.  My brother, Sam, drove me back to Savannah in my car and Delora drove their truck back and met us in my home.  We talked for a good bit about the existence of God (I know, a very deep conversation to have after a blistering hot race I failed at).  Any way, after our conversation they left and I took a shower and took a much desired nap.

a man and his alligator that I met along the way during the race.

Wildlife Inventory:

  • 6 great egrets
  • 9 ibis
  • 3 crows
  • 3 squirrels
  • 3 cormorants
  • 4 turtles
  • 3 dragon flies
  • 1 butterfly
  • 5 moths
  • 1 tern
  • 1 black-headed seagull
  • 1 dove
  • 2 dogs
  • 1 red cardinal

why am I smiling? Because it's very hot and I like running in the heat -NOT!

So, what was the run like?

It was hell – short and simple.  It was so blistering hot.  I got to the start location at 6:00am and it was so muggy already.  By the time of my weigh-in (179 pounds) I was already sweating.  The moment the race started I was drenched in sweat and remained like that until I pulled out of the race.

There were approximately 25 to 35 runners at the start of the race, I’m guessing.  Of those runners, only six were going after the 50.  For the first five or six miles I ran alongside a young lady named Becky.  Becky is an ultra runner but was doing the relay for this race.  Becky and her racing partner were each doing a 25 mile leg of the relay.  Pretty intense relay!  Becky also organizes races.  She’s organizing a 31 mile race for November 19th.  When I learn more details about it I’ll post it on this site and on the Savannah Running facebook page I manage.  You know, it’s so cool to meet ultra-runners.  Ultra runners are a very friendly and obviously very passionate about running.

the long bridge that kicked my butt royally!

Becky and I parted ways upon meeting my brother at the side of 278 where I was able to refill my water bottles and continue to run.  At this time I was feeling great.  As I was going up 278 there was a Cremator sign on the side of the road that stated “Gum Tree Rd”  and had an arrow pointing left.  When I reached Gum Tree road I stopped at a convenience store because my stomach was beginning to bother me some.  After relieving myself, I left the convenient store and turned left on Gum Tree.  I ran about 10 minutes on Gum Tree and thought, this cannot be the way.  I turned back and ran back to 278 and Gum Tree and tried to remember what was the right way to go.  I started running up 278 but after about another 10 minutes I stopped and began to thoroughly question which way I was to go.  Finally, I called my brother and he and Delora showed up and pointed me in the right direction – which happened to be the 278 path I had started running up after Gum Tree.  I was livid at that point, I will admit.  This was a confusing area of the race route that could have been marked better, in my opinion.  Then again, I should have studied the map better and been prepared to ask questions about the route!  Nevertheless, when I made it to the aid station I was not shy in voicing my displeasure about having gotten lost for 20 minutes because the path wasn’t marked well for me.  The people at that aid station were very friendly and understanding and did not deserve my tirade.  My deepest apologies to them.

After that confusing area around Gum Tree I didn’t have too many problems finding my way through the race path.  I did get a little confused after Go Tri-Sports but that was entirely my fault because I just zoned out as I ran.

a great view of that river from the very long bridge

The back stretch of 278 where the toll booth’s at is relentlessly exposed to the murderous sun.  It’s also a very beautiful section of the race.  As I crossed a long bridge I was blown away by the sheer beauty of the river and marsh in that area.  I saw lots of different birds there.  It was simply beauty there.  The sun, though, was not on my side.  It beat down on me hard and heavy.

Every 30 minutes I downed an electrolyte cap and consumed a great deal of fluids.  The second time hitting the 278 back end I was carrying 66 ounces of fluids.  44 ounces were powerade, 22 were water.  The powerade tasted like acrid piss but I needed to drink it.  I prefer water during runs, hands down.  By the time I met my brother near Gum Tree I had depleted my fluids and was suffering pretty bad.  Sam pulled out a fold out chair on the side of 278 and I sat there for about 10 minutes drinking cold water.  As I sat there I realized that I didn’t have much left in me.  My brother sensed that and asked how I was doing and if I wanted to continue.  I told him that I wanted to go to the next aid station and make a decision there.  He looked at me hard but agreed to the plan.  By this time, I had a fierce headache and my finger tips were tingling.  I was slightly dizzy.

I left the comfort of the chair and began my path to the next and last aid station for me.  As I got further from Sam and Delora the more my running became obviously wobbly.  I began to walk.  The water bottle I was holding was getting so heavy.  The headache was intense.  I would close my eyes intermittently because that seemed to alleviate the headache some.  About that time I looked back and saw that my brother was jogging up to me.  That’s where we talked and agreed that this race was over for me.

We drove into the Bike Doctor aid station and the race volunteers were so attentive to my condition and needs.  They had me immediately step into a baby pool filled with ice water.  One of the volunteers dunked a large sponge into ice cold water and placed it on the back of my head and squeezed the sponge sending shocking cold water over me.  I let out a very loud “whoa!” as the cold water brought my core temperature down and seemed to electrify my body with renewed energy.  This was done to me several times and every time I seemed to get more strength and vitality.  They tried to get me to sit down in the ice cold water pool but I couldn’t get myself to do that.  You see, I am a serious cold water wimp!  I could never be one of those crazy people that jump into ice cold waters in December in January for the polar bear club or whatever that is.  I only like cold water for two things – drinking and trout fishing.  Ok, and I like it on the back of my head to cool me down when I’m really hot.  The people at the aid station were life savers!  They were amazing!  I thank you all so very, very much for looking after me and helping me get back on right footing.

My amazing brother, Sam, and his beautiful wife, Delora, at the pre-race meeting. They were indispensible!

I made several mistakes during this race.

  1. I forgot to bring my iphone 4 dry case.  That was a big bummer.  I instead used my old overboard waterproof armband which is severely past it’s prime.  It was uncomfortable on my wrist.  Not having my super cool vacuum-sealed dry phone case sucked big time.  I can take pictures with my phone still in that case and, I can text and make facebook updates using that dry case.  I know that’s quite unimportant for the race but having the flexibility to play around with my iphone and have it protected from the elements is kind of a fun and big deal to me.
  2. I didn’t study the map course well enough.  Had I done so I would have asked questions about that particular confusing area for me in the race.
  3. I should have take a trip to Hilton Head before the race and run all or part of the course so that I would have been more familiarized with that area.
  4. I should haven taken the ice water bath that was offered to me after doing the first loop.  That was a big and crucial mistake I made.  Had I listened to my brother and the race organizers and taken that ice water bath I think I would of been able to go further than I did.  This may have caused me the race.  Next time, I will know better.
  5. I knew the heat was going to be the determining factor in this race  and I should have done more long runs in the heat of the day during my training.

Do I have any regrets?

Of course, I do…I didn’t finish.  The decision to withdraw from the race, though, was the smart and right decision to make.  I’m a big believer in pushing yourself to the limit but there is no good reason to red-line yourself for a race or any other endeavor that has nothing to do with the bigger part of what life is about.  In the grand scheme of things, running and racing is for enjoyment not for recklessness and suicide.  I wanted to run and complete the CrematorUltra because I enjoy running and the challenges of taking running to the next level.  But, I want to be able to continue to run and race another day.

Tim Waz and I at Palmetto Running Company the day before the race

Tim Waz and his Palmetto Running Club once again put together a great event.  I am grateful to have been a part of this race and look forward to running and racing with Tim and the races he sponsors.

To those that ran and completed the CrematorUltra 50 I commend you!  That was one hell of a tough race!  You are all winners and some mighty tough people!  Next year, I hope to be counted among you as a finisher of the CrematorUltra 50 2012!

For those of you that followed my progress on the facebook page I put up for this event, Dan’s CrematorUltra 2011, – thank you for your prayers and moral support.  Thank you for your kind words before, during and after the race.  I apologize that I did not finish.  I will not let you all down next time!

Tim, thanks for putting together a great event!

Thank you all for taking the time to check out my blog.

I wish you and yours the very best.

peace.

dh

07/24/2011

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1 comment for “My Cremator Experience

  1. 2011/07/31 at 3:18 pm

    You are the man, Dan! You ran further than I did, that’s for sure…

    MAD MARSH 2011…at EastCoastUltras.blogspot.com…everyone attend!!!!!

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