October 08, 2012

A Harrowing Dehydrated Journey

It went aboutjust about as wrong as a run could go wrong. My hip was sore from my recent speed work and long runs, and I put off  long running for as long as I could in the week changing my plan to a Sunday afternoon rather than the regular.  I have one last long run to squeeze in at 37 k.  
Being the afternoon, I knew t would be warmer.  I was nervous for a couple of reasons.  I went to the chiropractor for an assessment for my hip, he gave me a green light, but I was conscious of it turning into a full blown injury.  Second, it was a hotter day, and I was busy for the morning, so it would have to be after lunch.  I brought gatoraid in my four belt containers.
Right away, I began sweating.  Salty Sweat.  This was something to keep conscious of as losing salt can be bad.  
By km 20, I was running out of my liquids, and about to have a second half of my long run not passing homes.  My lips were feeling dry, a sure sign of dehydration.  I decided to stop and get water from the last house along my path.   Nice lady gave me a bottle of water.  That was gone fairly soon.  My garmin died about this time (km 21 of 37).
This is when I noticed had stopped sweating.  It was dawning on me that I was in trouble.  I took my gel and began thinking about liquids more and more. 
As I thought of the distance left ahead of me and the situation I was in, I concerned myself with where I might find water.  My arms were sweaty again, a good sign that the bottled water was a help.  I was running now along the water channel for the rest of my run.  This channel was a risk to drink from for two reasons: the bank was steep and the water was iffy.
I had to stop running, my legs were finished, nothing left in them to ask and this realization made the run seem so much longer.  This was very different for me as I never stop and walk on long runs.  I tried to pick it up a few times but had to walk every 500 meters or so.  I was realizing how much longer this run would be.
I thought of eating some fo the beautiful apple from the orchards and stopped to see where I may jump over the tall fences.  My mind began obsessing about liquids.  I thought of coke Slurpee constantly for almost 18 k that run.  Finally after I licked the salty sweat  off my arms, I decided to risk it and find a spot to drink from the channel.  I found a spot where campers (pickers who camp near the orchards) wash in.  I stumbled clumsily down, realized how dazed i felt, and drank deeply from the water.  After this, I felt queasy, so I got up and clambered up the bank and kept going. I looked over to where the water I drank came from and realized it was swampy.  Uh oh? 
I tried running a bit and stopped, ran a bit more, and stopped again.  I started thinking about worse case scenario, I would have to go to a nearby orchard house and ask for a ride. I have read enough about dehydration to know I was in trouble, but in my foggy reasoning I thought, "there is only 12 k to go, and I could make it".  
I was frustrated by my limitations, my body was saying no.  I started to HATE running.  I kept thinking "why do I do this to myself?"  My heart sank into dark thoughts of never running again, quitting altogether.  I seriously thought of not doing the marathon.  I was scared and angry, angry at myself and the situation.  Also, I was determined to make it home.  WIth no garmin, I was guesstimating distances, making it seem longer.   I ran/walked slowly home.  This added a good 40 minutes to my normal time in the 37 k.  I was getting desperate to be home, but determined I would keep on going, it would take less time that way.  My body wanted to sit down.  I said no.  I could see the familiar land marks of home stretch, but like a surreal horror movie, the last bit stretched out to the longest 7 k I had ever run. 
I got 2 km out and really began getting emotional.  I knew home and water and coke slurpee were so close.  I found the fountain in the park 1 km away and drank, but knew that it was almost moot, that I was needing to get home.  I jog-walked the last click celebrating and commissurating this the last of my long runs before an event i no longer wanted to do.
I walked through the door and collapsed in an emotional heap, drinking and drinking.  And vomited and vomited.  I felt so awful.  Queasy tired and stupid and exhausted.
It took all of a few days to piece together all that went wrong.  I underestimated that salts I needed, the water I  needed, and the heat of the day (over 30 C). 
I got my coke slurpee.  It was divine.
To be sure, this experience traumatized me.  I was unsure of my limitations for the race psychologically and physically.   I knew I would have no way of re-establish my confidence, only the memory of this experience to haunt me.  Also, not having run that last half fully, my body would most likely not recognize the distance.  
I now knew what it felt like to reach my limits, to push - foolishly Ill add- beyond them.  
I look back and knew I was at least 5 % dehydrated.  10 % brings on dire risks.  I was experiencing mental confusion, led feet, numbness of the hands, lack of sweat.
The race itself later on I dreaded.  That happened yesterday, and survived.   What oes not kill me makes me stronger?  This was not true here.  I was foolish.  I was stubborn.  I was also smart and tactical.  I saw the best in me and the worst in a crisis.  It was a personal battle.  I would not want to ever experience that again and I have learned something about myself.  
I think I would need a road ID bracelet, and for long runs, perhaps a phone, although I dont know how I would carry it.  More to come on the race, but this sets up the story for my next entry.  Sorry for the lenght, but for me this was an important blog to write out.

1 comment:

Kenley said...

Wow, man that is quite a running battle story. Well, I am sure that by now, your confidence is back to normal. I just am glad that you made it back home. I know what you mean by imagining things. Did you ever at any point think of swimming in a pool of coke slurpee? In my last marathon, I imagined a big pool of beer to swim in. Glad to see you back blogging and I hope your Race is great.