Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday Slaughter

It was a solid week of training for me, which I wrapped up this morning with a Double Bacon.

No, that's not a cheeseburger. It means a double loop of the Bacon Strip, which is a 10 mile loop on hilly, 95% dirt county roads northeast of Fort Collins, about 3 miles east of the Budweiser plant. Yes, even Fort Collins, the Napa Valley of beer, has diverse offerings of brewed beverages...

The Bacon Strip, being east of town, has a great view of the northern Front Range, and all the way north to Wyoming. It is also a butt kicker of a training run. According to local marathoners, being able to run a double Bacon means you are more than prepared for a marathon. I'm not sure, but I wonder if it might be possible to predict your marathon finish time from the time it takes to cover this 20 mile course.

My friend Tom Schipper contacted me earlier this week and asked if I had any plans for a long run this weekend, and I did. I suggested a double Bacon, which is about the toughest 20 mile run around here on dirt that's within 15 minutes driving distance of downtown.

I've known Tom through the running club since 1996 and we happen to be well-matched in terms of running pace. In most of the local races we finish within 30 seconds of each other. I gauge my starting position in local road races by Tom's location, he's easy to see because he's so tall.

We drove out to the Bacon Strip, and got started just before 7:00 this morning. It was a warm, windy morning. Tom suggested we run counterclockwise for the first loop, which was a good call because we had a headwind the first 5 miles, then a nice tailwind coming back to the vehicles.

I've been feeling good lately and I thought I could run 9 minute miles on the Bacon Strip. WRONG! In the first two miles my legs felt so tired I wondered if I was going to be able to complete a second 10 mile loop. We were running into a strong headwind, and we still had some cloud cover blocking the sun, but the best we could do were 10 minute miles into the wind. Eventually we warmed up a bit and it was easier to push the pace a little, but it's so hilly and some areas have loose gravel and sand that slows you down.

I started with one tall bottle of water, having downed a liter on the drive out there. I was aware that I was a little pre-dehydrated, having not taken in enough fluids on Saturday, and then drinking a STRONG margarita just before bedtime.

I regretted drinking the margarita all night. As a result I was hot flashing like crazy and kept waking up, and I only got about 4 hours of sleep before my alarm woke me at 5:30.

We got to the cars at 10 miles at under 10 minute average pace, and the cloud cover had long since gone away. We were at the mercy of no shade, no clouds, another dry headwind outbound on the second loop which we were running in reverse. We took a good break at the cars and I drank another full liter of fluid with S caps, then took two full tall bottles in my pack for the second loop.

We were still doing well as we made the turn away from the headwind at 15 miles, but it was getting hot. The tailwind wasn't enough to cool us down anymore, and by 17 miles we were both pretty much out of water and starting to feel warm. We both took brief walking breaks. I recognized that I might be in trouble with only 3 miles left to go, I had a little bit of a headache and my stomach suddenly felt a little funny. My head felt hot under my hat.

I wondered if Tom felt the same, I knew he was low on water too. Around 16 miles we had discussed my going ahead because he thought he would be slower at the end, I told him that if I didn't see him behind me by the time I got to the cars, that I would come out and bring him water.

He seemed to be doing fine so I took off but didn't get more than a half mile ahead by the final turn at 19 miles. I alternated running and walking those last 3 miles because I kept feeling like I was getting too hot.

When I arrived at the cars, three and a half hours after we started, I could see Tom at the top of the last hill coming down to the cars, less than half a mile away, so I decided to just wait for him. By the time he got to the cars he looked pale and said he wasn't feeling good. He opened his car and sat down, I told him he should get out of the sun and he got out and opened the hatchback of his car and sat there. I had him put a frozen water bottle on his neck.

Then he started puking, I dug more small frozen water bottles out of his cooler and put them on his neck and grabbed a towel out of my car. Fortunately he didn't puke for very long but he looked white.

At the same time this triathlete couple showed up, finishing their Bacon Strip loop and they had some cold water in their car. They offered it to us and I dumped the cold water over the towel and Tom sat there and recovered, until he felt well enough to start sipping some cold coke. He bounced back pretty fast after the coke, so I'm sure he needed some sugar, too.

I was really thankful that those people were there because all I had left was warm water in my car. Usually when I do a long run I am well-stocked with ice and cold drinks in the cooler, and some oral rehydration salts, and other stuff, but I made the mistake of not taking a 20 mile run very seriously.

As it turned out, it was 82 degrees when we finished. I guess I needed a reminder to come down from my ultrarunner hubris and remember that anything can happen, even on a short run, and to always be prepared. Didn't I just blog about that a few weeks ago? My long-term memory must be going along with the hot flashes. I felt like a dumbass. I was lucky I wasn't sick, too.

As the wind dried me I could see how much salt I had on my arms. That isn't normal for me when I do my sauna training, but I haven't been doing that, either.

After Tom sat there a while he said he felt good enough to drive home, so I followed him into town, and he gave me the thumbs up when it was time for me to turn off to my house. I called him later and he's doing fine. But we both realized we hadn't planned very well.

Hopefully a lesson learned. The lessons will be repeated until they are learned...

So now I'm drinking a lot of fluids and eating some soup for the fluids and salt, and I hope I can take a nap and recover from today's Double Bacon Hog Slaughter so I can make it to my next run this coming Work Hangover Wednesday...

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