Monday, June 11, 2012

The Ranch 30K turns out to be the hardest race I have ever ran... in my short year and a half of running... but it was harder than a marathon in pouring rain and harder than running 50 miles with ITBS. It was a disaster from almost start to finish. I have plenty of reasons why, and these vary on the spectrum of my fault to not my fault, but I think in hindsight, I could have made better decisions in response to each one. So on to the report. It will be broken into Part I: Camping and Part II: Racing. For those of you who don't care about my family camping trip, scroll on down to Part II. Part III is the ER trip.

Part I: Camping

This was to be my son's first camping trip and my wife's first as well. It would be a one night trip, we would eat dinner in town, and there would be plenty of people around, so it was a nice way to ease into camping. I registered for Reveille Peak Ranch for $25 and thought we were good to go. When we got out there though we had to wait about 1/2 hour for the girl to to show up to register us and were then told that we had to pay an additional $50 for the day-passes. When I've camped at state parks before entry has always been included in camping, so I found this odd. If I had known it would have cost $75 to camp, I probably would not camped at this one. I'm staying in a 4 star hotel in New Orleans next month for $99... but I digress.

We had a really good time.

I thought our view was pretty decent and it was quiet enough.

Camp food was good enough... we decided to eat in Llano since it is supposed to be a cute little town but it turns out it USED to be. Now half the town is closed. Still, we went on and found Acme Cafe. I had crab cakes and Emily had chicken fried steak. Logan had chicken fingers with a side of being a grump.

We got a fire going but it was short lived since it had rained the day before and all the wood was wet... and nowhere in Llano apparently sells fire wood.

Logan was happier once we were back to camp. He loved swimming and running around the tent. Next time I need to remember the fishing pool! And my own firewood if it has rained recently...

And so on to:

Part II: The Race

The morning of the race I felt good about things. I had a cold so I took some medicine, drank water, ate a little and was ready to go. I did not get great sleep before and had some very odd dreams, but all in all felt good.

When we got down to the race site someone pointed us to go down a dirt road, which we did. I carried Logan and a bunch of other people were headed down that way... and down and down and down... until I stopped to ask if anyone knew where they were going... turns out none of us did and we had been headed in the wrong direction. 

By the time we got to the right place, the race had been going for a bit. So I figured it was not a big deal since it was chipped and went to the bathroom, then headed over to the starting line. 

Lap 1
When I took off I felt great. I ran the first 4 miles at about a 9:30 pace with a top pace of 7:27. At about that time I felt a slight twinge in my knee and decided to pace myself and steady at 9:30-10 minutes per mile. I was passing a lot of people at this point in the back of the pack. Several asked if I was the first of the 10Kers then had a good laugh (with me... I think) at the fact that I was so late. I began running about 4-6 feet behind a group of ladies and was going to stay back there a bit to pace myself when a woman turned around, on the decline, stopped, and screamed "on your left!!!" admonishing me for not saying this as passing - but I was not trying to pass. If someone wants to pass they yell, you move. If they don't yell you don't have an obligation to move, but don't assume something and come to a dead stop. This was it. The stop. I was headed down on mud and rocks and when she stopped I could not stop myself. I tried and in the process rolled my left ankle to the point I was sliding with my foot bent inward to the point my ankle was touching the ground. I crashed into the lady woman and apologized... why I don't know? I guess when I bump into a woman it is what I'm conditioned to do. I hobbled by her after this, just trying to get away. As I did I heard her friends ask what happened and one of them called me a prick. Nice. I tried to maintain my speed the rest of mile 5 and 6 but it was getting harder. As I was about to pass another lady I yelled "on your left!" and she just kept trudging... with her headphones in. At this point I had to break hard again and really felt the ankle. My 5th mile slowed down a lot and 6th mile slowed to about 10 minutes. 

Lap 1 was done, nearly 7 miles, 1 hour 10 minutes. I spent about 5 minutes at the aid station at the end of the loop telling my wife what had happened and not in the nicest of ways. I wish I had been nicer... but on I went. I told her I wanted to quit at this point but moved on.

Lap 2 I came to the conclusion I could not longer run. I tried to trot but even that was too much and mostly settled for "speed walking." It was getting hotter and I was getting slower. My knee was now fine but the ankle was throbbing. Walking was okay. Running was terrible. Lap 2 took 1 hour and 30 minutes but I was growing tired. I was not as prepared as I would have liked for this race, but definitely not for speed walking. It takes completely different muscle groups and I was getting tired. I had been going for 2 hours and 45 minutes now and was 30 minutes late so this was 10:15.

Lap 3 was Hell. About a quarter mile in I stopped to think about quitting. A woman passed and said "it may not be pretty but we ain't quitting." "Hell no," I replied and moved on. I was tired from the speed walking, it was getting hotter, and I was falling further and further behind. At least I was done with the head of the pack from lap 2 telling me "good job!" As I trudged 15-20 minute miles. I know the intent was good, but I was not doing a good job. I was doing a terrible job. My worst job ever. "No, this is not how I usually run!" I wanted to tell them! But I grunted thank you and moved on. Now it was getting hot. In the 90s by the end of this loop and on open faced granite heading straight up. I planned on getting pictures but handed my phone off to my wife after lap 1 when it was all wet. There were aid stations at miles 1.5 and about mile 5 at the top of the rock. The people were all very nice but 2 and 4 probably was the goal. When I got past mile 1.5 though I really was thinking about how to save my water so I would drink it all by about mile 4.5. I did a good job of this but should have spread it further. By the time I was closing in on the aid station I was extremely thirsty to the point that I was getting dizzy. And then, heartbreak. When I got there, they were out of water. A teenage boy at the aid station had the very helpful suggestion that he believed bananas had water and to eat one of those... Can't blame him for trying. There was a nearby little bit of standing water that I splashed over my head and moved on. They told me the girl who brings water up had spilled it out of her truck so instead of coming back she placed some water about another mile down. At this point I was feeling terrible, but what could I do? Move or quit. That mile took over 20 minutes and while it did I became dizzy and nauseated. At certain points, as I moved all alone, with nobody in front or behind, I wondered how long it would be before someone found my passed out body baking in the sun. I finally got to the water station. At this time I ASSUMED I was in last being 30 minutes late and walking so much but later found out there were people far behind me. I hope there was enough water for them. I don't feel good about this but I used a bottle full of that cold water to splash over my head to cool myself down and drank another. Within a mile it was gone again and I was again out of water, climbing down rocks, hoping to make it back. I kept thinking I'd see that final stream crossing after every turn but it would not be there when I made that turn. I was even dizzier and becoming disoriented. When I crossed the stream I thought about just laying there and yelling. Instead I splashed more water over my head and slowly moved on. As I came toward the end of the trail I let out a large "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" not knowing I was near the end. A man yelled "are you alright?" "I hope so. I am now that I know I'm almost done." I came out of the trail and on to the final dirt road. The man asked if I had seen a woman in a green shirt. I thought I had but I thought she was way ahead of me. I told him I was sorry but I did not know... he looked pretty concerned. 

As I finished, I had my wife and boy to cheer my on and was so happy to be done. I went under a tree and collapsed right away. The medic brought water but said that was all she had (no IVs) and that several people had DNF'd or gone to the hospital. At least I'm not in the hospital, I thought. I tried to eat part of a burger and gather myself but it was hard. Emily did a very good job and so did Logan at being upbeat this entire time. The guy at the end of the race did not want to give my wife a finisher shirt since nobody had handed me one so she took one and gave him some attitude, which really cheered me up. I saw them behaving the same way toward other finishers as well who were really late which is disappointing. One guy had finished his 3rd of the Trail Series and they did not want to give him the shirt for that because "faster runners might come back to get one." This was almost 1 PM. I was glad to see he did not take no for an answer.

After that, Emily took the tent down, crammed it in my trunk, and we went on home... 

Part III: The Aftermath

As we drove through Burnet, I began to have white outs where everything went white and I felt myself slipping. I could not lift my head, tried pouring more and more water over my head and Emily called 911. Burnet paramedics and fire came out but by that time I had regained myself and told them I did not need to go to the hospital. I slept most of the rest of the way home but woke up around south Austin. I tried drinking water but could not and felt like I was going to puke. Then another white out started and I felt my heart beating VERY hard. Once again, Emily pulled over and called 911. She thought it took a while for the ambulance to get there but I remember it being a matter of seconds. When they got there they told me I needed to go to the hospital. They took my pulse and it was about 106, compared to my resting 46. Blood sugar was up to 148 which is high for me. They put an IV in and about 1000 ml of liquid and I began to feel better but not perfect. It was like I was half there. I had a good conversation once I was feeling a tad better with the paramedic. He said that if I had a normal resting heart rate and was in normal condition, this kind of trauma could have had a far worse outcome. He was a cyclist so he shared stories of doing stupid things that I enjoyed.

At the hospital they x-rayed my ankle and said it was just sprained and ran several tests on me. The doctor came back and said I was severely dehydrated and that my kidneys "took a hit." He wanted me to stay until my levels were better. At about 9 PM they said my levels were still elevated but that I could go home. I need to see my doc in a few days for a work up and not run until cleared. And drink a ton of water.

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