When weight loss is a bad thingJune 8, 2007
On Sunday I headed out for my final pre-Western States long run: three laps of a hilly 16-mile trail loop around Tiger Mountain in Issaquah. Ralph Pooler, also training for WS, had shown me the loop nine days earlier, so now I was ready to navigate it by myself. My car was fully stocked with Gu2O, water, PowerGels, and crackers and cookies. I had even brought my bathroom scale so that I could monitor my hydration status from lap to lap. Nothing could possibly disrupt my carefully planned afternoon workout.
Nothing, perhaps, except for the trio of Mike Adams, Krissy Moehl, and Scott Jurek. I was all of 38 minutes into my first lap when I encountered them on their way from one distant place (Rattlesnake Ridge?) to another (the Red Town trailhead at Cougar Mountain). I quickly abandoned my original plan in favor of going wherever they were going at whatever their pace was. 48 miles is an awfully long way to run by oneself, and I couldn’t resist having some company for two or three hours.
The company was great while it lasted. Then it was time for me to retrace my steps back to Tiger with the help of Scott’s handwritten directions. By the time I finally weighed in back at the High Point trailhead where I had parked, I had lost ten pounds — over 6% of my body weight. I also felt nauseated, a rarity for me, and more than a little tired.
If this had been a Western States aid station, the hydration cops would have forced me to stop until I had regained a few pounds. As it was, though, I was free to take as many stupid risks as I wanted. My first instinct was to grab a couple of bottles and head back out, so that’s what I did. It seemed like a good exercise in summoning up the will to continue.
As I started walking up the West Tiger 3 trail, the part of my brain that was still working reconsidered the decision I had just made. How much did I really know about the sequelae of moderate-to-severe dehydration? At what point do the organ systems start shutting down? Perhaps right now was not the time to find out.
I turned around, jogged back to the car, got in and drove home. For today, 40 miles would have to suffice.