Saturday, August 30, 2014

UTMB

Well, it's over.  All those frozen pre-dawn mornings on the skis, the weightroom, the miles and miles and miles.  It was a great adventure, one that will certainly pay off in future races, but I wasn't able to use any of it last night.  I learned long ago that I either have or it I don't- and I hand nothing on this day.  After some nice runs in the Alps last week, I acquired a virus or some sickness that made me exhausted and dizzy all this race week.  I had some terrible head pain, muscle pain throughout my body, a fever and dizzy spells.  I kept it to myself and stayed optimistic it would break and I would be rested after a week of no exercise whatsoever.  I ate as much as I could, slept 12-14 hours a day and just waited, rather scared that whatever was wrong with me was not passing.  I toed the start line with a plan to be very conservative.  I was dizzy and wanted to go lay down as the final countdown began and the music blasted. It was quite a frantic scene taking off to that kind of hoopla.  I smiled and tried to enjoy the scene- maybe once in a lifetime.

I was dizzy and had cramping twinges in my calves on the first mile through town.  I felt completely disconnected from my legs and any uptick in effort beyond casual jogging made me see black spots.  Thankfully, it was raining hard.  That cooled me and helped to clear my head.  I hiked all the climbs and passed many with ease, only to not have the coordination to run downhill.  I walked basically all of the downhills.  I saw Brandi in Contamines and she saw the deer in the headlights look on my face and knew I was in for a rough go out there.  I climbed the Col du Bonhomme (second climb of the day 4000+') and felt ok, but I limped all the way down to Chapieux to the aid at about 50k.  Even the beautiful grassy downhill road that leads the 2 miles to town, I was only able to jog and stumble an 11 min pace.  That is 6 min mile territory and I was unable to even jog it at this point.  For the first time, I felt a bad pain in my lower back.  I wasn't sure if it was from bad running form or if it was a kidney issue.  I sat in Chapieux for several minutes eating some soup.  It had stopped raining a while ago and I was boiling, even in the middle of the night wearing very little. 

From Chapieux, I jogged up the gravel road in the dark towards the Col de la Seigne.  Then, my light died.  I sat on the road and changed the battery to a brand new extra battery I just bought for $50.  I plugged it in and it only showed 1 out of 3 bars remaining.  I charged it fully and it was nearly dead before I used it!  Wow, that only bought me a few hours of light, then I would be down to my small back up light.  Not good.  Onward to Courmayeur.  On that road at a bathroom stop I saw some red in my urine.  That meant it was my kidneys.  Now, I was scared.  I ate and drank plenty, but my energy was absolutely failing. I was swerving and stumbling on the roads.  It was about to get ugly on Seigne.  I took my time, knowing I was on the edge of losing my finish.  I actually climbed ok and even passed some others.  But, in the first steps downward, I was falling and beating myself silly.  I focused hard on form and trying to get anything going to save me.  I had an overwhelming urge to sleep and the dizzyness was making downhills dangerous.  I got to the Lac Combal aid. It was just 13 more kilometers to see Brandi in Courmayeur, Italy and I wanted to get there.  As I pulled into the aid at Lac Combal mile 40, my spare battery died and now I would be down to just my emergency light.  I had some water and soup then went into the medical tent for a checkup.  The doctor pushed into my right kidney and pain shot through me.  She told me my day was done and said I could get a car to Courmayeur.  I was thankful for their help and felt like I was risking serious damage if I continued to Courmayeur.  It was no let down to stop.  I had played all my cards and my day was done.  I looked forward to hugging Brandi and catching the bus through the Mont Blanc tunnel.  I will be watching my health closely- especially the kidney thing.  Hopefully, it was just from the atrocious downhill running form I was using and not some kind of kidney failure.  It was humbling to fail so completely. However, I know I was not able to perform due to a sickness- not overtraining or some self inflicted problem from errors in my preparation.  That is a small victory- knowing I am stronger than that and someday that strength will show.  It is just sad that it could not show on this wonderful course around the Alps.

So, I slept a few hours and here I sit blogging while the winners approach the finish line.  Not how I imagined it.  I am still excited for my future as a runner.  September is a big month of hunting and directing IMTUF.  We will be home in a few days and hopefully I can recover soon and try to race again before the season ends. 

Thanks for reading.  I appreciate your support.


13 comments:

  1. Hope it clears up quickly for you. Rest well!

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  2. Sorry to hear that Jeremy. Rest up and enjoy the rest of your time there.

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  3. Argh. Sorry man. No matter who we are, we can all be brought down by some freaking thing that is beyond the scope of our vision, and is a billionith our size. Not surprising to me, you gave it a fight.

    But now, get that shell back well. Particularly those filters.

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    1. Hi Geo,
      "Sometimes we are the windshield and sometimes we are the bug." Right on. I am still the bug- no better at all. Sleeping 14-16 hours a day, still dizzy and exhausted. Looking back in my training log- it seemed to start about 3 weeks ago- more sleep, disconnected feeling during my runs, prolonged soreness postrun (especially in the quads from downhills). I scraped myself out of bed yesterday and went to the hospital- first time in 10+ years for a full work up. I'm thinking Mono or Cytomegalovirus. I tried to hunt a few days ago- not pretty. Mostly just staggering around. Still awesome to be in the woods.

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  4. Dang, man. Way to fight. Get better. Best of luck.

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  5. Jeremy I know how it feels. I have been in similar situations a couple times in my ultrarunning life. You will come out of it stronger . And that’s the positive side of it.
    Terrific adventures are waiting! Just keep going! Happy trails!

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    1. Thanks Ulli. Someday I will have my day in the Alps. I will keep going!

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  6. Jer, I'm so incredibly sorry at the bad timing of this illness with your longed-for race. You gave everything you could and made the smart call to end it. Rest up, recover and come back another time to give that trail the punishment you know you could deliver to it! Feel better!!

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    1. Thanks Christie. See you in a few weeks.

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  7. Feeling really bummed for you Jeremy, knowing how long and how hard you trained for this race. But I'm quite sure it won't be the last time you get to experience that frantic hoopla scene at the UTMB starting line.
    If you need a good urologist, I know one in Boise who likes to come to McCall. He's taken good care of me and my kidney stones.

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    1. Thanks Keith. I got checked out yesterday. Hopefully have some answers soon.

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  8. Sorry to hear about the unfortunate circumstances at UTMB. We all have those days eventually, sucks that it had to be UTMB. Hope you have had time to recover physically and mentally as you get ready for NF50.

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    1. Thanks Chris. I am still dealing with the dizziness and weakness. Much better now, but still there. After I got home, I did every blood test known to man to cause abnormal fatigue. The only thing we found was West Nile virus. My doc said the active virus was gone from my system, but WNV can cause lingering adrenal and neurological symptoms for months to years. So, I am back to running and training hard, but some days are just lost to the dizzies. I plan to run pretty well at TNF 50, but if I have any real setbacks before then, I will call it a season and slip into hibernation.

      Are you coming the big show 5 weeks from now? I hope to see you there. If you are anything close to your previous form, I expect a podium is in your future.

      Best regards,
      jer

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