Saturday, June 22, 2013

RX Run 12-Hour Results (or: A Water Shed Day in My Running Life)

43 miles in first 6 hours. 0 miles in last 6 hours.

Well, I had high hopes coming to Grand Rapids and kicking some serious butt on a beautiful 1.55 mile loop timed race. My training had been going ‘ok’, and I had my ace crew chief (My lovely wife Misty) there to help me. Alas, I would ultimately pull myself due to a medical issue, a decision that was more long term than you might think.

Misty and I arrived in town the night before, picked up our packets, ate dinner and just relaxed in our hotel room. It was standard night-before-race conditions where I go to bed and wake up at 2 am, unable to fall back asleep and I have crazy nightmares in my half-awake state between 2 am and when the alarm went off at 5:30 am.  

Being the day after the Summer Solstice, there were plenty of hours in the day to have a 12 hour race and it be light the whole time, so I was totally ok with an 8 am race start. The temperature was already in the mid 60s and a little muggy, but the sky was overcast and combined with a gentle breeze, nobody complained.

The race was put on by a local company WellBeing, LLC and they are trying to promote mental health (addiction, depression, etc) treatment with basic exercise instead of drugs. As anyone who gets runner high more than a few times a week can tell you, it totally works. While when I started running back in 2005 it was to loose a little excess weight, I quickly realized how my life had become low stress, and I sure liked it. Here was a local organization I could totally support. This was their first race, so they had some hiccups, but I thought they did a great job.

Ryan Miller, Friend and Fellow Ultrarunner
The course was a simple 1.55 mile loop along the Grand River, which was actually quite beautiful. With a loop that distance, you only need the one aid station at the start finish which was stocked with standard ultra fare (even though there were only a handful of ultrarunners) but of course I did not partake of any of it, due to my ketosis diet.

With the low-carb diet, I brought along my own stash of fuel including fresh berries, almond butter spread on low-carb tortillas, and homemade keto energy gel. I set up my aid station just past the start finish where Misty hung out and helped me when I came around when she was not walking herself. She managed to (officially) finish 7 laps of the course in between helping me. I enjoyed coming up behind her on the race course. Her smile helped me a lot. She is just so darn cute...

The race started, and as usual, I started out fast, doing the first 8 miles in just over an hour. It was a little fast, but I felt good. My ankle was uncomfortable but it has been for 8 months and I knew it would only get a little worse then just be a constant pain, so I ignored it.

I hit the 26.2 mile point of the race in 3:26, so that was nice. I was feeling pretty good and of course making wild predictions about how many miles I could actually run. I was running each 1.55 mile loop in 13-14 minutes, loop after loop. I was doing what I wanted, running even.

The temperature would eventually get to 88 degrees and I knew that so I was drinking as fast as I could, roughly 8 oz of liquid every mile. Yup, that's a lot. Think about doing a ‘shot’ of water, once per minute, every minute, for 6 hours. That's how much I was consuming, and yet it still was not enough.

Ketosis involves using fat as your primary fuel source (instead of carbs) and I have been doing it since March, with the desired results in that I can run and run and muscles do not get sore. One issue is that if you body is burning fat for fuel, it requires more water than a ‘normal’ diet just because of the nature of the process. Put more simply, keto athletes have to drink more water than non-keto athletes.

And that is why 1oz of liquid per minute was still not enough for me. I have had dehydration problems long before I went keto so I might have other medical hydration issues.

Everything (besides my hydration) was going great. My muscles were not cramping, my mind was focused. My stomach was doing just fine as well. My hourly Hammer Nutrition pills were keeping me going just fine.

I had urinated twice in the first 4 hours and everything was cool, as it was a light yellow which is what I wanted. But of course, I had a lot of liquid ‘on board’ at the start of the race and I burned (ha!) through that pretty quick. Halfway through my 28th lap (which would be my last) I stopped to pee a third time, and a stop sign showed up. Yup, I had blood in my urine. Again.

I continued on and met Misty finishing her 7th lap about 100m from the start/finish and gave her the bad news. We decided to stop there and get water in me and monitor the situation.

The last time I peed blood in an ultra, I ended up in the hospital for 36 hours. I was not going to do that again. So we sat there for an hour and a half putting water down my gullet as fast as I could drink it, and eventually my urine cleared, but I had been scared enough and my motivation had taken a huge hit as I knew I was not going to achieve my goal miles.

My health is worth a hell of a lot more than how many miles I can run, so I decided at 7.5 hours into it to pull myself from the race. Misty and I packed up and left as I did want to hang around and beat myself up after I made the (hard) decision to bail.

To take my mind off the situation, Misty took me out to an early dinner and a movie. She is the most awesome life partner I could ask for. She knows me so well and knows how to help me when I need help. She knows what to say when, how to be supportive, and when to just be a shoulder to cry on.

A very depressing end to a race, but it made start to think about much bigger things. It is time to re-evaluate my running career. I am not sad, mind you. I see this is a karmic sign to make changes. To go back to enjoying my running.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dehydration Can Be A Real Problem (or: Blood in Urine! Not Again!)

Last summer I posted a 100 mile PR by over an hour with a solid 15:27, but then spent the next 30+ hours in the ER. What was said to be rhabdomylosis probably was at least part of that, but it was also compounded with dehydration. That day in upstate NY was quite warm, and while I thought I was drinking enough liquid, I only urinated twice, the first being orange, the second being red. Blood red. We shall ignore (for now) the fact that I should have stopped, blah, blah, blah. What we should note was that I was a few pints low on liquid and the IV bags were plentiful and fast-draining for me afterwards.

So you would expect me to be better about drinking more liquids. Well, I thought I was doing better. Fall came and temperatures dropped, so I did not have to keep my liquid intake as high as in the summer and I seemed to have no problems.

In the spring of this year, I became a ketogenic athlete getting the majority of my energy from fats instead of carbs. When you are on a ketogenic diet, turns out you need to be drinking more water than normal, because of the way your body uses the fat for fuel. So I needed to up my water intake just because of my diet.

When I ran the Indiana Trail 100, it was cold (30-40 degrees) but I made sure to drink lots of water, and I urinated many (read: enough) times so I was ok. I drank roughly a quart of liquid (with electrolytes) every 16 mile loop. That means I I drank 3 gal of liquid during the race. at the temp never went above 45 degrees. (read: it was cold) Summer finally arrives in Michigan and my training runs were being done in 70+ degree heat, so I had to start drinking even more.

Now, I have never been good about drinking enough water, even before I went ketogenic. I just don't like the taste of water. I use Mio (and generic equivalent) flavoring to make it taste better, and when running add Hammer Electrolyte Fizz to also help, but it is the physical act of drinking lots of liquid that I still struggle with.

Then last week happened.

Memorial day weekend I spent in CA with brothers and friends and I did have more alcohol than I should have and less water than I should have, so I was a little dehydrated but thought little of it. I got back and then had a 34 mile training day on Wednesday and everything was fine, or so I thought. For my long day of the week, I was planning on doing 50ish miles on Friday. My body was totally ok (not sore from Wednesdays workout) so I took off for the first marathon of the day at 7am, knowing I had plenty of time to hit 50. At mile ~9, I picked up my friend Joel (who coincidentally told me a few days previous that he wants me to help him train for a 12 hour ultra) and we did 8 more. I had drank what I thought was enough water for the run up until that point, and sure enough, I had to go pee. It looked like Coca-Cola. Yup, blood in my urine.

I did not pass go, I did not collect $200. I stopped my run for the day, even though just like in August I felt just fine otherwise. Within two hours I was in my doctors office getting checked out. Sure enough, I had blood in my urine, but no infection (good news). We suspected rhabdomylosis again, but 2 things indicated that was not it. One was the fact that in those two hours I drank a good amount of liquids and my urine went back to clear (rhabdomylosis doesn't clear that fast) and subsequent blood test confirmed no rhabomylosis.

It looks like it was dehydration. We waited 3 days (and about 5 gal of liquid later) and did another battery of tests (blood and urine) as well as getting an ultrasound on my kidneys. The good news was that the urine sample came back negative (no more blood) and the blood test came back all cool. Again, it was negative for rhabdomylosis and other stuff (blood sugar, electrolytes, etc.) were all good as well.

The ultrasound was different. They found a cyst, but the good news is that it was not of size/location to cause concern or need for more tests.

Crisis, averted. What is funny is my doctor's official record says 'Patient may resume running and should drink water before, during, and after all workouts'. Ummm. yeah. :)

So I am supposed to drink 2.5L a day just because of my diet in addition to whatever I should be drinking for my running, which in the summer is A LOT. How the heck do I down that much liquid? I need to come up with some solution. At least now I have some more motivation because I know what will happen if I do not get enough.