Monday, July 30, 2012

Beautiful Danger

Yesterday we had a scary running experience. Cory and I went to do our long runs at Bear Creek Lake Park. Cory was planning to do 19 and I was planning to do 15. We had run at this park before and it's not a particularly difficult place to run. We made two big mistakes. We had just been through a hard week and so we decided to sleep in. We didn't get on the trail until 9ish.

You can barely see Denver's skyline on the horizon

The second mistake is that we underestimated how much water we'd be drinking. I'm picky about my water sources and so I brought an extra liter of water in my Nathan vest and carried a hand held bottle with an electrolyte mix in it. I've never needed that much water for a 15-miler and so I thought I'd be just fine. Cory brought one handheld bottle and planned to fill up at various water sources on his route.

Cory on the Mt. Carbon switchbacks

We started off together and after we crested Mount Carbon, Cory took off in a different direction than I was  headed. We made sure that we knew each other's routes so that if anything happened we could find each other. The first part of my route skirted around two creeks. These trails offered a little shade, but I was so thirsty and I felt like every drink I took did nothing to keep me hydrated.

"Shade" along the creek

After breaking away from the creek section I took off toward a dry, hot ridge. There were a lot of intersecting trails and the map I had with me was not super clear. I ran to the top of a hill, second-guessed myself and came back down. I ran part-way up another hill, and came back down again. Then I figured out that my first guess was right and continued on. At this point I only had about 10 ounces of water left and I had only come 7 or so miles. I should have been smart and gone immediately back to the car, but I was feeling too stubborn.

I soon ran out of water and started getting very nervous. The sun was intense and I knew I wasn't going to come across any water or shade. I decided to take a short cut back, cutting my route down to 12 miles, but that still meant that I had 3 more miles to get back to the car. After going through WFR training, I'm very aware of the signs of dehydration and just tried to keep myself from going into a panic attack. I wasn't going to die. Even if I passed out, someone would find me and call an ambulance. But I started to feel my heart rate and respiration rate rise. I noticed my pulse getting weaker in the extremities indicating a decrease in blood pressure. 

I dizzily made it back to the car where I had a 20 oz. bottle waiting for me. I downed it in five minutes. But Cory still wasn't back yet and I had nothing left to drink. Finally I saw him off in the distance. He was moving fast, but as he came closer I noticed how horrible he looked. Apparently he had run out of water pretty early as well. He filled up at a drinking fountain and threw up. As he kept going on he started to get nervous because he thought we would pass each other during a certain stretch of trail (the stretch that I got lost on). When he didn't see me he became very worried that something was wrong. He cut off a few miles of his run and came back towards the car to find me.

Cory was still feeling sick today, but we ended up being fine. Lesson learned. Never again will I do a midday long-run in the Colorado summer sun.

1 comment:

  1. And the message in the back of your head was not, "I know what my mother would say right now", but "I know what my father would say right now"! He is wise, but he, like you, gained his wisdom through experience. Glad you did not need to meet your new doctor as a result.