Monday, July 19, 2010

Maybe I should call you an ambulance

Or 'If you're going to randomly pass out in a public place, the Chipotle on 28th St. in Boulder is a good place to do it.'

Today is Jonny's birthday and he takes the day off and I could really use a day off so we decide to go mountain biking in Winter Park.  Except the weather doesn't look so great and we're tired and decide to go somewhere closer.  Jonny suggests Lory State Park and I can get a shot at pre-riding the bike course for my triathlon in August.  This sounds good to me except the weather gurus are predicting 100 degrees for the plains and it would make more sense to go to Ned where it's a shorter drive and in the 70's but I do want to check out the new course and it's cloudy and cool so maybe it won't get as hot as they say and even if it does it should be later in the day.

I've done this race twice before but this year they're changing the bike course so it's only one loop and we don't have a bunch of congestion on the course.  It's a great idea except the new course is a good bit more challenging.  I know this because it's the same course as the run from last year plus a loop of the old bike course.  I remember the uphill being steep and going on forever with lots of false summits and the descent being steep with lots of tight switchbacks but I can't remember if the trail is technical (ie rocky) or not and steep feels different when you're running vs riding.

We come into the park via the back door because it's less driving than going to the main entrance so I'm not doing the course in the exact order and I miss out a bit but I get to do the new difficult loop and that's the main thing I want to check out.  We go on part of the old course to get to the new at the opposite end of the park and it's beautiful this time of year.  The grasses and wildflowers are in full bloom, everything so lush and green.  It's such a gorgeous trail and all nice smooth singletrack.  Then I get to the new part.  The trailhead sports a sign saying the trail is for 'Experts' and this worries me.  I don't remember any horrible technical bits but by the time you get to the run portion of a triathlon your faculties aren't typically at their best.  The trail is steep and the switchbacks tight for a bike and sure as I remember lots and lots of false summits, made worse because each one looks like how I remember the top to look from last year.  I think I've reached the top at the 3/4 mark but it's more like 2 miles until I reach the true summit.  And it's hot.  Doesn't feel super hot and there are periods of cloud cover and cool breeze so I don't notice the heat all that much but it's there.  I doubt it was 100 but could have been in the 90's.  It's so dry though, it's not like the 90's in a place that has humidity but still.  It's a tough climb and there are a few places I have to get off and walk for a few steps but I can ride most of it.  But I'm way too tired by the time I get to the top and for my race I have to come back and run this again?  I'm not even doing it today and the mere thought send me to tears.  What was I thinking when I signed up for this?

Then we get to the downhill.  Holy Sheet.  Sweet Mother of Jeebus is all I have to say.  Steep.  Tight steep switchbacks and lots of them.  Bits of rocks here and there plus the steep.  I have to get off and walk at least 5-6 of the switchbacks and there are a few more rocky bits I also have to get off for.  Funny that the sign for the descent says 'Intermediate' while the ascent says 'Expert' when I think the opposite is true.  I'm not sure how this is going to work during a race and I'm not sure what the race organizers were thinking.  Yeah, it's great to have one loop not to have to worry about passing people on the double loop but how are we going to pass on this trail?  Especially the downhill?  It's all narrow single track and the slope of the hill is so steep that it'll be hard to get out of the way to let people by and it'll be difficult to pass.  Even Jonny thinks it's going to be a challenge and he's got top of the line mountain biking skills. 

It's a beautiful ride and a beautiful day and we see a total of 7 people.  But unfortunately instead of inspiring confidence this pre-ride has inspired panic.  I need to be a lot less fat and more strong and way way better downhill biking skills to pull this one off.  Because did I mention the part about how I have to still finish off the rest of the old bike loop and come back and run that sucker again?  That 3 mile romp on the hill takes 40 minutes and there is another 7 1/2 miles to go which doesn't sound like much but when you're talking about single track, well, it is much.  Yes, sheer blind panic would be a good description for my thoughts when we get back to the car.  We've only been out for 1 hour 45 minutes or so and I'm wondering if we should do more given my newfound understanding of what I'm up against in 6 weeks but it's hot and I'm tired so I don't suggest it.  Also, I'm completely out of water.  I've gone through a full 70 ounces in that short amount of time and barely noticed.

During the 1 hour drive home I neurotically plan out how I'm going to pull this off.  I'll have to come back at least 2 more times to work on those switchbacks.  If I can ride a few more of them rather than getting off to walk that will save me a lot of time and energy.  I need to do more running hill work.  No more chocolate.  Bricks (bike then run), need to do more bricks, heck need to start doing bricks.  Is it to late to enter a race for practice?  Must check the schedule when I get home.  Damn road bike needs repaired so maybe this isn't even an option as any available races would be road tris.  This goes on and on.  I'm so wound up I don't pay much attention to the rising nausea.  It's not unusual for me to lose my appetite and even get nauseous after a long ride, especially if it's hot.  But by the time we hit Boulder I've forgotten my neurotic ramblings because I'm feeling more nauseous than normal, especially for such a short ride, and it's turning into the kind of nauseous that means maybe the contents of my stomach will soon be bidding adieu.  But the sick feeling soon passes and we decide to go to Chipotle to pick up some food for dinner.  Neither of us has had lunch nor stopped during the ride for a snack or energy bar and we didn't have huge breakfasts either.  I didn't have any water left to drink after the ride either.

We get out of the car and the nausea hits again.  The smell of the place, normally a good thing, isn't helping my case and when I see the containers of meat I think it would be a good thing to find the bathroom so as not to put everyone in the joint off their food.  I go around to the far side of the restaurant and it's fortunate that the bathroom isn't there because I go back around to the front where Jonny is waiting in line and stop just behind him because suddenly I'm dizzy and can't walk right.  I grab the low wall that divides the place to wait in line from the place to dine and start swaying a bit.  I hear a voice ask me if I'm o.k. and I lift my right hand and do that 'so-so' motion then the next thing I know I hear Jonny's voice off in the distance calling my name in a panicked voice.  I'm laying on my back looking up at him and he looks so worried and I can't figure out why. Then I hear some other guy going on about calling 911 and I see the phone in the hand of the Chipotle employee and that breaks me out of my stupor.  I tell them all it's o.k., I'm fine, and Jonny tells him the same and he's trying to get me up to get me out of there and I'm right there with him trying to stand because the hell we're going to pay for an ambulance and even worse end up in the ER at Boulder Community Hospital.  Heck I'll crawl out of there on all fours if I have to. I'm a little wobbly and shaky but the nauseous sick feeling is gone and he gets me to the car no problem then goes back for the food.  The Chipotle employee is still worried when  he sees Jonny return and tells him to let him know if I'm o.k.

This has happened once before many years ago after a mountain bike ride except it was after a much longer ride (4-4 1/2 hours I think) and I was way more dehydrated and in need of food.  I'm guessing the heat effected me more than I realized and even though I think I'd had plenty to drink on the ride I hadn't taken any food or electrolytes and didn't have any food or water after the ride.  I wasn't hungry or thirsty but the heat and exertion often kills my appetite.  On a longer ride I'll force myself to eat/drink but this ride was so short, I'd even been out on a ride on Saturday for a similar length of time in worse heat but it wasn't nearly as strenuous so maybe that was all it took.  After passing out the nausea was totally gone and I came home, had dinner and felt fine, maybe a little woozy is all.

Poor Jonny, he was so worried even after we'd gotten home and I told him I felt fine.  He caught me when I fell and saved me cracking my head on the hard floor but still was thinking there was more he should do but he didn't know what.  What a crappy birthday present.  I'll have to figure out a way to make it up to him next year.


  1. Dang Elayne. Hope you're doing better.

    I'm in Boulder next week -- email me at the address on my blog under the "Contact" tab if you're available and we can try to make it happen.

    Take care ...!

  2. Im glad you are ok. Diana

  3. Geez, girl! Am I going to have to buy you a BIG cooler that you can leave in the car, stocked with water?

    Be careful. I'm glad you didn't get stuck with an ambulance bill, an ER visit, and all that comes with it.

    We're starting to get the bills from Tom's big scare last month. One nearly hit $30K. Not kidding.

  4. Wow Elayne, at least you waited to pass out with Jonny and not by yourself somewhere. Jeeze, I bet this is an experience that wont be repeated anytime soon!

  5. Elayne, wow, I'm so glad you didn't crack your head open and that you're better with food & liquid. Take better care of yourself!

    That event sounds scary. How do out-of-towners manage races like that when then can't check out the course ahead of time like you're doing? Or does one always get to town early to give the course a go if it's unfamiliar territory?

  6. If it's a big important race to someone (like a Regionals or Nationals) then they might go early and pre-ride the course if it's allowed. I'm mostly checking out the course because I can, it's only an hour's drive. Most races I've done I haven't pre-ridden the course but if you can manage it it can be a big advantage. Some courses like the one for the Indian Peaks triathlon that I did a few years ago are closed to the public. The race director held a pre-ride the night before but if you couldn't make it then you were stuck learning it on race day. Also it was a long challenging course, I wouldn't have wanted to tire myself out doing that the night before a race.

    And yeah, I'm lucky I passed out right next to Jonny and not in the bathroom. Gives me the heebies thinking about that.

    I'm hoping it's just a freak thing. I'm usually on top of the water/food/electrolyte thing and this whole episode was very surprising, especially since I hadn't been out riding very long. Food and electrolytes aren't typically an issue for rides under 2 hours but maybe there was something unusual about the heat/exertion combination. I'm going to be more careful to eat on the shorter rides from now on though just to be on the safe side.

  7. Whoa, scary!! Holy mackerel. Very, very glad you're okay.