On July 3rd Linda, myself and two of my friends headed up for a Bix practice run. If you happen to be new to the blog in the last year then you may not know that the Bix7 is my premier run of the race season. This is the race that started it all so many years ago and definitely the most enjoyable of the lot. As in the past, I like to get a practice run in just to set expectations. The two big hills in that race are nothing to be taken lightly – always good to know ahead of time how much of a struggle it is going to be. For this particular race, there was another reason for self validation…. but will get to that in a bit. This year Sung made the trek up there with us. He has been getting himself in shape and has lost an impressive amount of weight from a healthy diet and getting back into running. This was his second Bix training run and had intentions of going a little further than his previous 4 to 5 mile. His current 10K training program had put him around 6 miles but that was flat outings. The plan was to stick with him to help him negotiate however far he felt like going with a side benefit of forcing myself to take it easy. In the end, Sung made it over both hills and completed the course giving him two PRs in the process – the longest distance yet (7.3 miles – way ahead of his 10K program) and at an average pace of 11:07 which again was his fastest yet. I find it always helps when someone is talking to you the whole time so chatted him up the entire distance. On my front, that pace puts me 2 to 3 minutes over my standard pace so that part of the plan came out perfect as well. Nice and easy, got to enjoy running with a good friend and the fact that I completed it without issue pleased me GREATLY!!
Now find out the cause for caution by hitting the jump to read about a scary experience
Sooooo what was the extra validation all about.. why the need to take it slow on a course that was 6 miles shorter than two of my races and 2 miles shorter than another this year already? Well, it’s due to an event that occurred the previous Sunday evening that I’ll likely never forget for the rest of my running career and mainly taking the time to make this post so all my fellow runners out there can learn from it. I crossed a boundary – although not entirely sure when – but paid dearly for it. Linda and I were camping at a dog show that weekend near Clinton Lake. Nothing seemed that out of the ordinary at the time. Not sure I had breakfast, but lunch was at the dog club consisting of Sloppy Joes and some other items provided by the people putting the show on. On our way home around 2 we stopped in at DQ and I opted for my favorite lime Arctic Rush (or Mr. Misty if you are old school). That was consumed during the 1.5 hour or so ride home figuring it would be a good carb load for the scheduled long training run in the late afternoon – around 5:30 to be exact. At that time the weather was in the mid 80’s but what went unnoticed was a 90+ heat index. Thanks to the cooler than normal Spring and Summer (take that Globull Warming) there wasn’t a lot of heat training beyond the last 3 or 4 runs in the weeks before. No worries, the body was responding fine and even increased my fluid consumption from every two miles to every one. I won’t waste time with details of the run itself, but nothing seemed wrong beyond standard fatigue. Took a Stinger Waffle at the 8 miles mark just to keep the energy up and decided to shut it down at the 11 miles mark instead of the planned 14 just in case. Post run cool down was the same – some walking, some stretching, more fluids… again, nothing seemed odd other than a crazy amount of sweat which is pretty normal for the long runs (usually accompanied by a 5 to 6 pound loss). Put all the gear back into the truck and headed for home which is where this story gets intriguing.
About a mile out of the park and say 8-9 miles from home thanks to bridge out near us something started going wrong. The first thing I noticed was the feeling in both of my legs disappeared. I could feel the resistance against the gas pedal but it felt like everything in between wasn’t really there. Still able to maintain speed so kept going. A little bit further the feeling in both arms started going and progressed to the point that the feeling in both arms matched the legs, but the part that alarmed me the most is my fingers clinched together making it nearly impossible to hold onto the steering wheel. I distinctly remember staring down at my right hand and forcing with all my strength to open the fingers only to have them snap back together. This scenario played out three more times until my brain reminded me I WAS DRIVING. Two cars passed me (speed limit there was 55) while using just my fingertips to hold the wheel. A big thanks to another friend (Greg) who had a scary event the previous month that ultimately convinced me that continuing the trek home was not worth the risk to other cars on the road or to myself if the car left the road. It is a sobering thought when you make yourself aware of what impact you can have on the lives of others by doing something stupid. Greg was unconscious when they found him on the road in his car..my critical point came when the feeling in my face began to leave. I was lucky enough to make it to a pull-off on the side of the road still about 5 miles from home – trust me, there was a definite debate on whether I could make it all the way home but a) that would make it harder to get emergency help if needed – again due to the bridge being out and b) by pulling off where I did gave me the best chance of someone on the main road seeing me depending on how this was going to turn out. Now safely off the road, it was time to get some help. Observation number one – it is extremely hard to use a smart phone when you can’t open your fingers. With some struggle, managed to get the phone in my lap and pressed the wake button on the side. The navigation allowed me to simply drag the fingers over the screen to the phone icon but that left me with trying to navigate more detailed icons to bring up the call favorites – a few frustrating tries later the screen changed allowing me to hit the big button for the most frequent call LINDA. Relief, she answered, but by then my mouth and tongue were all but useless forcing me to mumble at best the need for her to call 911 and where the car was. Not her fault, but she was having trouble understanding me causing me to try and enunciate in my best Muppet voice. Not sure she really understood me (later found out I didn’t even tell her the call was for ME), I opted for plan B consisting of jumping out of the car and flagging someone down. Not sure how this worked so well not having legs, arms or the ability to speak but flagged a truck down and got out the words call 911 – I wasn’t able to provide any other details by then but looked down and saw my Road ID – best purchase EVER! Managed to get it unhooked, and tossed it to the guy who used it to make the call. Not sure of the real time frames from there, but Linda showed up and she indicated it was 15 to 20 minutes before help arrived. Some feeling was coming back into my face by the time the first responder arrived. His assessment was hyper ventilation and kept telling me to slow my breathing down. Pretty confident this was NOT hyperventilation. Soon after the Fire Chief arrived, a fire truck arrived… and then apparently another fire truck arrived and then a cop arrived along with an ambulance. I just remember the first fire truck and the ambulance – later Linda informed me they blocked the road while all this was going down – eeesh. The fire engine medics checked my vitals and concluded I needed oxygen immediately so they put the apparatus on me nose and mouth – they also put a device on my finger whose reading concerned them as well.
People were scurrying around after that, asking me questions, asking Linda questions, asking me more questions, asking Linda more questions to the point that talking seemed to come a little easier. This came in handy as I was debating if I really needed to go to the hospital. My intention to convince them the answer was “no” was derailed when I started vomiting all over the place. That was awful but appreciative of the fact someone had a HUGE hazard bag to catch most of it. Guessing they were alarmed at this point thanks to a bad visual – remember that Arctic Rush.. that LIME Arctic Rush… well it looks the same coming up as it does going down – bright green — and it all came up along with a surprising amount of other fluids based on having just run 11 miles – figured it would be mostly consumed during the run. Regardless, this resulted in a check on the “DO NOT LIFE LIST” and my first trip in an ambulance. At this point I was shaking uncontrollably – must have been literally bouncing of the gurney thanks to the ambulance guy redirecting all the air conditioning vents right on me – amplified by the sweaty clothes. Then he pulled out the devil’s tail – my nemesis, my kryptonite, my biggest fear – a needle while informing they needed to get fluids in immediately. My plea to spare this torture was ignored but he did pick an odd time for honesty. He first consulted me by telling it would be a quick poke then a push (not helping but okay).. right before doing the dirty deed he leans back and says.. “no, that isn’t really true, it will actually be a big poke and a big push” What the F [sure enough a big poke and a big push] ARRGGGHH. That dude must have military training being able to put in a perfect IV while on the road and me shaking liking a heroin addict on a 3 day withdrawal. Found out later the reason for the reclassification to big is because he went with the second largest IV needle he had (a 16) in order to fast track the fluids. Twice during that ride some monitors flared up which caused some definite concern but didn’t result in any additional actions I could see. Not much else to really say about the ride other than a lecture on when I should run (before 5:30am or after 7:30pm) which prompted a race day start time rebuttal which he wasn’t really wasn’t convinced hehehe and the driver getting lost on the way to the ER (guy in back with me was busy telling her she missed the turn).
Upon arrival they carted me into a room (for the record, I now know their secret code to get through the locked doors so must have been feeling better by then). A volley of additional questions followed by a third IV bag. The people in the room did have additional discussions on the monitor alarms and proceeded to hook me up to a ton of wires. Then nightmare two came to the forefront when it was noticed the nurse was busy grabbing additional needles, vials and the telltale rubber hosing – CRAP more needles – suck suck suck suck …wait.. what did he just say over my confession of needles and pleas to reconsider…thanks to the size of the IV they put in me he can get it out of there instead of repoking me – MAJOR sigh of relief. Still wasn’t going to watch that process and later found out that was an excellent choice. Linda arrived soon after and pretty much began to freak out informing them repeatedly I don’t do needles even while I was saying everything was fine. Strangely they decided to take my shirt off where it was noticed there were two odd half dollar circles of blood. Probably would have became inquisitive then but distracted by them rolling me over to replace the sheet under me. If I had known then that this was to hide a LARGE blood stain on the sheet there might have been some smelling salts on the invoice. Apparently there was an issue with getting the blood out of the IV. The EKG and chest xray all came back good which was a relief but after working on me for two hours+ my temp was still at 102. This was the concern with the ambulance monitors and their main concern at the moment.. that and my blood pressure was way to low – way low even for a runner since my explanation that my standard pressure is in the 113/60 and lower range. Their last ditch effort was to get me to stand up which eventually produced a 110/59 which they accepted. I should mention again there were multiple consultations on when someone should be running scattered throughout the night. Wrapping this up because I’m sure you are bored by now, but after they received their $100 copay (yes, they required me to pay that on the spot) they told me everything looked okay but to stay cool and take it easy for the next few days. They did look surprised when I honestly asked them when I could get back on the road again (Bix@6 was only four days away!). The nurse sheepishly informed me to skip the planned Tuesday run and see how it looked for Thursday – yes!
Eeeesh, looking back I probably provided waaaay too much detail here but the night’s activities will probably flash by before every hot run from here on out. The Bix run validated I could still make it through and after today’s 9 minute paced 7 miles much more confident for the real race – still not willing to push for the sub 9:00 pace. The good news is everything came out good – the bad news is I’m officially more susceptible to overheating – the body doesn’t take well to these types of events. Oh, by the way, the reason for losing the feelings in the appendages is the blood rushes to the core to save it so apparently that was a good thing if you are a glass half full kinda guy – ironically I’m officially a glass empty guy since that means I’m hydrating!
Good to be here after a probable heat stroke. Take it easy out there and if you don’t already carry a phone on your runs and haven’t invested in a Road ID … I HIGHLY recommend it