Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Pain , Dizziness and the Flying Phone

I know it has not been long since my last post but I had a rather horrible experience the other day that I thought it would be best to share it now then I will try and forget about it.

I hate rest days
So I had been resting for a good few days. My calf is not as bad as first thought but needed rest and my knee really is not too great so I have been icing it every morning , day and night. I hate sitting on my backside so on Tuesday I decided I would go out. I planned on hiking just hiking from my house up and over to Lac Blanc via the Crochue Ridge traverse. The lifts are now all closed on the Aiguille Rouge side so knew it would be very quiet up there. It is about a 21km loop from my house to Lac Blanc via this traverse and home again , yeah not really that far but does involve about 1600m of ascent and 1600 descent.

Looking back towards Index and the Cham Aiguilles
I left the house at 11am with some gels , Clif bars and a litre of water. It was actually pretty hot for being the end of September but I plodded on up the 900m of zigzag trail behind my house in just over and hour. I felt fine here and all the way on up to Col Cornu. Then I started a light jog along to the Index , my calf was a little tight and my knee was not bothering me much either but I still took it easy and mixed up very light jogging with walking. Once I hit the Index things started to go a little wrong. I did not really notice it too much at the time but looking back there were signs I should have turned around. I was getting out of breath just walking , then I just kept stopping not just stopping to look around at the view but to actually find a rock to sit on. I just thought at the time I had not eaten enough so got some Clif bar down me and some cola bottles and kept going. I climbed the first pitch of the Traverse no problems(it is very easy) and continued along the traverse to the summit feeling okay. It is not a hard traverse but you need to pay attention to your feet as it is exposed in areas so I didn't really have time to notice my body was not doing great.

The chimney climb
Cannot beat this
Once on the summit I sat down , took in the amazing view and total silence. After about 20 minutes on the summit I stood up and felt a little dizzy and it took me a second or two to get with it. I then put my bag back on and as I swung it around my arm my phone came flying out of the front pocket and took a sky dive down the face of the mountain never to be seen again. I then continued along what was left of the ridge but I was having too really concentrate so hard on parts I would normally run over , I was feeling really unsure about myself on my feet. Anyway I got to the end of the ridge and began the descent to Lac Blanc , this was rather pleasant as there is still some snow so managed to slide down a lot of it and then got a little jog on again to the Lake , by this point I had run out of water and I wouldn't drink out of Lac Blanc but I didn't think it was that bad as it really wasn't too far from home or so I thought. The sun was starting to disappear behind the Chamonix valley so I knew that would keep the temperature down and help me from getting dehydrated. I had drank a litre of water from when I set off but never really felt thirsty all day and still managed to drink it all.

So I started to the descent to my house from Lac Blanc. It is pretty much all downhill but a long winding trail for 10kms. Just after leaving the Lake my thighs began to hurt and I was a bit concerned. My thighs should not be hurting after 11kms on the go! I can go 100km+ and not feel this bad. Just out of nowhere my thighs were burning and really badly hurting , so much so that again I just had to keep stopping to sit down. It took me a while(40 mins) to just get to the Flegere gondola station which normally would take 20 mins. I was not feeling good , my mouth was very dry and a was getting bad dizzy spells. I got to Flegere and knew normally I would be home in 35/40 mins if I was in good shape. I was hoping I would have seen a hiker by now to ask for some water as I was dying for some water but I didn't pass a soul.

The descent to Lac Blanc
Body 5 minutes from shutting down
So I began the Flegere descent , 1000m down to my home. This was horrible. I was walking and then my legs got too sore to walk so I tried to run but couldn't keep up any kind of pace before I had to sit down. I was a bit of a dizzy wreck hunched over my poles most of the way. I remembered at this stage that just after the turn off to Floria there was a little stream I always crossed when out training so began a little jog to get there as soon as possible. I never normally drink out of streams but I just had to once I got to it and I spent a good 10 minutes here downing a ton of water until it made me feel a little sick as I had taken so much so fast. So I plodded on and passed another two streams I also drank out of. From here on it was not far from home but I stumbled my way down the trail in a total mess. I felt pathetic , I just kept thinking that I had never felt this bad on any race, ever. I had only done 20kms and I was done. I was tired , dizzy and shaking and now my right knee was sore but that was my fault for turning a hike into a run on the down hills. I finally hit the road and was only a km from home but before I got to the little hill that leads to my house I passed a bench and had to go and sit on it. I was less than a km from my house and I couldn't face walking any more. I sat down for a good 10 minutes trying to force myself to get up and go home. Finally after being out for five and half hours I got into my house , got a bottle of water , a big glass of milk and made a litre of instant noodle soup and added a stupid amount of salt to it and it perked me up a little but now I was getting splitting headache so I lay on my sofa for pretty much the rest of the night and thankfully managed a great nights sleep and woke the next day feeling fine.

Every Ultra runners lifeline
I really do not want to sound over the top here but I really did feel that bad from the summit of the Crochue. Looking back on it I reckon it was just a mixture of lack of fluids , food and the heat. I am still a bit confused as I have gone much longer on less food and water and not felt nearly that bad. I am usually pretty good at going on empty for a good while. Also this was an easy hike/jog day and I was not going at anything near my usual pace. I really really hope this never crops up on me during a proper long race or it is game over. On the last section about 5kms from home I would have been really worried if I had been out somewhere with say 20kms to the nearest water or food. I was really really bad. The fact I drank so much once home and the salty noodle soup really sorted me out pretty quickly shows it was most definitely dehydration. Now I know this was no life or death situation I was in , nowhere near it but it was surprising how much I have done in the past few years and not once came close to this. Yeah I have had very sore thighs many a times and had a couple of little bonk runs but the dizzy feeling and feeling like I was not actually in my body(if that makes sense) was all very surreal. Some would say a day like that is a good training day and in a strange kind of way I can understand that as over the course of an Ultra you do get little pains and feel a little empty but nothing ever like this so if I can deal with that experience then I can deal with a lot I guess. I just hope it never ever gets that bad on a race.
It is always quite funny when people ask what kind of races I run and when I say Ultras always always always the first thing they say is "oh you must run really fast , what's your marathon time?" errrr no I don't , that's why I run Ultras, I don't have to run fast and get a time , I am out to enjoy and to test myself by seeing just how far I can go. There are millions of people out there way faster than me but maybe as the miles go by I start to show my endurance but I am not fast. The other thing they think is that you are immune to pain and I think this little experience proves I am not.
I know I said this was ONLY 20km but I am just putting it into perspective compared to the mileage I have been doing all summer. 20km is still far. That is the one other thing people always get confused by with regards to Ultra runners. People think if I am going out a short run then I am going out for 4 or 5 hours errr nope. My short runs can be 30 mins , just like any other runner out there. I think the difference between a twice a week runner aiming for a half marathon time and myself is not that huge. The only thing you need to change when hiking up the distance you are going to run is train train train. Some people just don't have time to train for long distances and I believe anybody no matter what fitness level can train and complete Half's and Marathons(if you want a time then that is different) but it takes just a little more dedication and work to push the mileage up to an Ultra but remember most Ultras take place on Trails which are a million times more fun and interesting than running for 26.2 miles around London.

Anyway , I am all good now and going to properly rest for a good few days maybe even a week as I now need to focus on my UK races.

No comments:

Post a Comment