Attention Old Dominioners: hope you’re ready to race across the sun. According to weather.com, the forecast in Woodstock, Virginia- start and finish to the Old Dominion 100- for this Saturday, June 4th, has taken a turn for the worse. A few days ago the same website forecast a high in the mid 80s, which would have produced hot race day conditions under the best of circumstances. Now the forecast calls for a high of 94 with 58% humidity. If this forecast proves accurate conditions at Old Dominion will feel like racing on the sun.
The last time I ran Old Dominion, which was the only time I have run Old Dominion and my first 100, was in 2008. Temperatures reached the high 90s in the shade, coupled with a higher humidity percentage than what is forecast for Saturday. The day had proved to be the second hottest day of the year for the area. Late in the night after the race, at the hotel, I remember getting up from bed to use the bathroom. I entered the bathroom, flipped on the light, closed the door, and began to sway in place. White flashing spots swirled in my vision. Then everything went black. The next thing I knew I was on the floor, looking up at the ceiling. Immediately, I performed a quick mental systems diagnostic and body scan. Did I hit my head? Arms? Legs? How long was I out? What the hell happened?
Turns out I had fainted, likely for only a second or two. Or for however long it took my body to fell like timber, crashing to the cold tile, Holiday Inn Express bathroom floor, somehow in the process miraculously failing to bump the ol’ noggin on one of the many hard-surfaced, pointy-cornered goodies awaiting any fainter in a standard-issue outfitted bathroom. The shock I put my body through the previous day, all day, was simply too much. The heat and humidity- not to mention the 100 miles- had taxed my system greatly. In short, my system finally rebelled with a deafening ‘F U, Neal’. And, without warning, decided it was time for me to get up close and personal with two-star hotel bathroom floor tile. Eventually I stood back up, snickered in relief and shuffled back to bed. Fortunately, everything was ok.
Fainting that night, in the bathroom at the hotel, is not one of my better memories. But, overall, as I have testified here, on this very blog, the 2008 Old Dominion is a great memory and always will be. Heat and all. Looking back, it is defining memory, a turning point in my life. I’ve figured many things out since that day, since that night, in terms of how my mind and body perform under tremendous physical stress, and in harsh conditions, how to fuel/hydrate properly, etc. My stomach never acts up. I’ve yet to throw up once in training or during a race. Problem is, no matter how much I’ve learned or experienced, or how tough my stomach is, mid 90 degree temperatures with humidity and exposed sun create hellish conditions when running 100 miles over mountain roads and trails. The good news is the conditions, whatever they turn out to be, will also make finishing, and the memories that begin soaking in shortly after, that much sweeter.