In which I did not actually die on the trail
|July 15, 2016||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
Planned a nice little 20 mile run from Foresthill, through Fransico’s and up to Driver’s Flat yesterday with fellow endurance/ultrarunner Cyd.
She wanted some heat training and I wanted some long distance miles to test out a couple of gear ideas.
Which apparently included “can Mel run with 2 hours in 100+ degree heat without water?”
Actually I don’t know that it was 2 hours because at the point where I ran out of water I didn’t look at my watch because it was going to be a long time before I saw water and while I knew I was capable of doing, that reality was quite depressing and I didn’t need to start consciously ticking off the hours.
But, considering it was a 5 1/2 hour-ish jaunt and I can remember WHERE I ran out of water (mid run ish), and WHEN I surrendered body and soul to the American River (end-ish of run), 2+ hours is a good assumption.
However, I’m getting ahead of myself. I think a quick look at “Lessons Learned” will tell the story adequately.
How the heck did I end up in the middle of nowhere on a hot hot day without water?
Cyd and I anticipated a certain (conservative) pace for the distance. We knew there were no water fill ups on the course, so we both started with a hydration pack. In my case it was substantially more water than I would normally carry for a run.
In fact, it was such a large quantity for me that I actually pulled my emergency water filter straw OUT OF MY PACK and laughed and said we wouldn’t need that.
I just deleted multiple paragraphs of blow by blow how-this-happened but rather simply it boils down to this. Because of multiple reasons we had to go a lot slower on the run. Which translated from a 4+ hour run to almost 6 hours. And instead of high nineties it was over 100 degrees. The extra 2 hours was done from 1pm-3pm in the heat of the day.
Cyd wasn’t as heat trained but didn’t run out of water as quickly as me. I handle the heat better but had been out of water a lot longer. When we saw the river access it was a single unanimous decision to plunge in and drink our fill, microbes be damned.
In for a quarter, in for a dollar.
Lesson Learned: bring the water straw each and every time. JUST DO IT.
Cotton, Creeks, and Cooling
One of my gear tests on this run was wearing a cotton shirt to see if the moisture that it retained kept me cooler.
Oh YES it did. The worst part was when it dried out and got sorta stiff and salty. It was delightfully cool and wet for a long time after being dunked.
The other test of the day was to lay down in every single creek that was a reasonable depth as a cooling strategy along the trail. It’s something that I’ve been told works during the western states run and despite my hatred of wet against my skin, the times I’ve convinced myself to just dunk my hat it does make me feel wonderful. DON’T BE STUPID MEL. IT’S JUST A LITTLE WATER. I’m really really really good at running in the heat. I could be even BETTER if I would just get in the water.
Cyd took a video of me laying down in the first creek.
I’m not posting it because of the copious amount of profanity that was involved in sitting down and then laying down in the creek to get my torso wet. This scene was repeated over and over at each creek. Complete with hyperventilation and screaming as cold water touched my torso.
Here’s the thing. It TOTALLY worked. Getting wet multiple times over the run is why I was able to keep moving in decent shape.
I have to admit at the end I wussed out in actually getting in the river after drinking in it. I sat on a rock, splashed some on my quads and tried to convince myself that was almost as good.
Lesson learned: for hot races and afternoon loops, embrace a cut off cotton tee and just say yes to water.
Was that a DNF?
At the end we hitched a ride half way up the really long, hot, steep road up to Driver’s flat. It was at least another 1 1/2 miles straight up. Instead of a nice round 20 miles our run stopped at 18.5 miles. Pretty sure there was no point in continuing that run, but still feels weird to have tapped out.
Lesson Learned: Training runs aren’t races and you can’t explore your limits without being willing to tap out when needed. I got plenty of mental training on that run without the last 1.5 miles. At least I hope that’s what happened.
Recovery isn’t my strong point
I had gone on a ride (Round trip from Auburn to Cool and back) the day before on Farley in the heat. Metabolically riding is much harder for me than running and sure enough I ended feeling slightly under electrolyted, a slight headache from not wearing sunglasses, and sorta stiff and achy.
Most of my hard rides and runs are spaced apart enough I don’t HAVE to do a good job recovering. Want a glass of water but feeling tired and stiff? I’ll just lay here like a lazy ass and get it later. Oops, finished riding 3 hours ago and never got around to eating.
With the 20 mile run the next day in mind I was very conscious of doing what needed to be done: rehydrate, get my electrolytes right, and refuel.
Post-run I went into recovery mode again, knowing I’m going back out on Farley on Saturday for another 15-20 miles (more preriding for marking course for Tevis). Hydration, electrolytes, food. I feel GREAT this morning.
Lesson learned: Doing proper recovery post-rides and runs is so much work. Eating is so much work. Drinking water until I pee is so much work. But here’s the thing. It’s not as much work as eating/drinking/refueling during the later miles of an endurance ride or ultrarun. So if I can get into the habit of recovering well in training, I can apply those concepts as “recovery in motion” in the later miles and hours of my events.
Sometimes a pack is better than bottles
I HATE running and riding in a pack. My shoulders don’t like it either and after 2 days of lots of hours running and riding with a bladder on my back I’m feeling the effects.
Which is why I usually chose to hit the trail with bottles instead.
However, I noticed yesterday that running down a technical section of trail having a bladder on my back with a hose is so much better than something that requires my hands in order to drink. I can actually take sips of water as I make forward motion. Drinking from a bottle (especially now with my vision being compromised) requires me to stop or at least slow because my arm isn’t available for balance and usually one of my eyes in blocked and can’t see the trail as I drink.
Last time I did Tevis and rode from Foresthill down to Fransico’s I arrived very metabolically compromised because it was too hard to take my hands off the reins and drink from a bottle or get something to eat. Having a pack on would have solved that issue. Less than a second to pop the hose in my mouth and then back to hands free.
Lesson learned: I still love my bottles – especially the ease of filling them at aid stations. However, I’ll consider the pack option anytime I have a long down hill technical trail (especially at night!), or need to carry a significant amount of water in the heat of the day between aid stations.
I handled the heat without any issues. Even when it topped over 100 degrees. I haven’t done any specific heat training this season because up until a couple weeks ago there was no reason to. Through whatever mechanism – life style or physiology – that allows me to take my heat fitness for granted, both a strength and a weakness. It’s great because I don’t melt. It’s not so good because I may not slow down enough to conserve energy and metabolic wear and tear for later in the race because it doesn’t feel “that bad” at the time. Relentless forward movement is fine. Draining the tank by putting on the gas in the hot afternoon is not. Just because I *can* doesn’t mean I *should*.
Lesson learned: Having a partner who reminds you of agreed upon strategies when I get distracted is a really really good thing. I likely only felt as good post run as I did because I was forced to go slower. There probably would have been carnage if left to my own devices as I barreled forward through the heat.
Speaking of the power of a partner
This is the first run I can remember in a very very VERY long time where I didn’t listen to podcasts or tunes. Cyd and I visited most of the way. I never even thought about getting it out, and at one point when slogging up a rather hot exposed steep incline I envisioned myself listening to a podcast and had to admit that having someone else to share the experience with was many folds better.
Lesson learned: I’ve been a bit anxious about the thought I might run most of a 50 with someone I *knew*. What if I want some alone time? What if I need a break and want to listen to podcasts or tunes? After this run I think I’m less worried. It’s pretty cool to have another person to share it with and if I need an hour or two to be alone with myself I’m sure it will work out.
I’m really getting nervous that I’m not in fifty mile shape for a race in 5 weeks. Realistically there isn’t time to do a 30 miler between now and then. I’m hoping that being on my feet for almost 6 hours moving down the trail on this run counts for something. Is being ready for 50 in 5 weeks any different from being ready for 100 in 16?
Poor Farley. 16 miles tough miles on Wednesday and another 15-16 miles tomorrow. I’ll be lucky if she doesn’t dump my ass in the river during the crossing tomorrow. That being said, after pretending to be on the cusp of retirement ready on the way out on an out and back Wednesday, she was a power house going back up to Auburn.
PS – for those of you wondering whether the fire affected the trail, on my run although you could see the scorched landscape on either side, it appears to have passed through really quickly and the trail itself seems untouched. Even the trees don’t look that bad. I’m not sure I would have noticed a difference riding it on a horse at night by the light of glowbars. Below are some pictures I took in that section.
What I posted…