Saturday, September 15, 2007

Getting Spanked in the Wasatch Mountains

Boy, did I have high hopes for Wasatch! Here is my story.

After pacing there in 2005 and DNFing in 2006 due to Rhabdomyolysis and subsequent liver failure, I came back for unfinished business. My training was good and my health excellent. I was ready for whatever Wasatch brought me.

The start was very warm and I made sure to eat and drink early and often and I ran strong into Francis Peak feeling confident of achieving my goal of 27:30- 28:00 hours. Hah! Wasatch had other plans. From Francis Peak to Big Mountain things went well, but my legs were getting tired and I could really feel the altitude. I felt really emotional arriving into Big Mt. Aid Station (mile 39.4), probably because I was realizing that this beast they call the Wasatch was totally kicking my butt!! I tried to maintain my positive feelings and my confidence, but both were severely waining.

I picked up my pacer Sunny Blende at Lambs Canyon (mile 53.13) and off we went behind my projected pace but determined to get er done!! Things started getting ugly after that. Last year, my legs refused to lift up, and this year that same sensation started up. It's not like my legs are sore or anything, its more like there is no connection between my brain and my legs. I just cannot lift them up. I monitored myself to make sure that I didn't have anything else going on. I felt I was okay at that point. Note to self: Stupid; here's your sign.
I kept repeating to myself, "you can do this, you are a survivor." I continued to try and move forward, but runners were passing me like I was standing still. I had planned on being at Brighton (75 miles) , between 12-1:00am and at 4:30 I dragged my sorry a** into the aid station.
I picked up my new pacer, Alison, and tried to proceed with relentless forward motion. Damn it, it just wasn't happening. I felt like a snail that had been stepped on but still had the will to get home to safety. Fear about last years outcome, caused me to doubt my ability to be able to finish. I wanted to quit so bad. I had a lot of excuses that would have been acceptable, but I knew that it is too easy to quit. I am not a quitter. Never have been, never will be. No way. The 25 miles of steep, technical up and down's just about did me in. My poor pacer must have wondered what she had gotten herself into. I couldn't blame her. She encouraged me and tried to keep me going. My legs were failing me. Unable to muster up the ability to lift my legs prevented me from moving more that a snails pace. I was worried about my failing body. Was I experiencing the same thing as last year? Could I be permanently damaging myself? I kept praying a silent, "please help me finish this, keep me from quitting." I have never ever looked at a cutoff in a race before, but now I was racing the clock to finish!I had to dig so deep. I crossed the finish line in 35:14. It was such a struggle and such a hard mental push. When I crossed the finish line, I told the race director, "it was a great race, but I won't be back." He laughed.

In our room at Brighton, I urinated a large amount of coca-cola colored urine. Myoglobin in your urine is not good and I knew that I was in trouble. I didn't urinate clear until the next afternoon. On Tuesday, I was admitted into the hospital and was diagnosed with a severe case of Rhabdo. The Doctor said that I was not dehydrated. I am not clear why this happened again. I did know from experience that it is crucial to really hydrate yourself after running a 100 miles. I knew it was very important with myoglobin in my urine. The Doctor said that I saved my life by hydrating well after the race, and for getting prompt medical attention. He said I might be on dialysis today if I had not been treated.

I am going to be okay. There is no permanent damage to my kidneys or liver. I am very lucky. I learned a lot from this race. I do know that I am tough and that I have the ability to dig deep within myself to push to the finish. I am not a quitter, and I am hard headed.

This afternoon, I was released from the hospital. It was a scary experience, but a humbling one at that. No, I won't be back to run Wasatch. I will watch from the sidelines or maybe pace, or maybe crew someone. I love the race and I respect it. But no, Wasatch spanked me and put me to bed. I'm okay with that now.


olga said...

Girl, this is a scary atory, really...I kept refreshing that button for your times, and you weren't moving, and I knew trouble is here, and I wasn't sure what I wanted more for you: to drop or to finish. You made your choice, and you made it through! I am glad there is no permanent damage, but please keep those signs in a head for the future (and I will to)! Now recover really, really well, and bask in glory, this course kicks butt of good healthy runners, you overcame it with rhabdo! Proud of you...take care of yourself, dear.

shawn said...

Kelly, we were all so very worried about you! Happy you're out of the hospital now. Your tremendous positive attitude and strength is huuuuge. Happy I come from the same stock. Though.. I hafta say there is no way I would have kept going. You've got more moxy than I do.... love you! Welcome home.

Bob Gentile said...

WARNING NEWBIES who Live in FLAT FL DO NOT Read this post:-(
OOOPS I read it, now I won't be able to sleep.

Well I am glad Kelly ur back home now, pretty scary stuff...wonder why Wasatch gives u the Rhabdo bug?! you think it's the altitude OR a COMBO of that plus up & down climbs, fuel during race...isn't Hardrock a higher altitude?! ahhhh I know u been asking urself why, just got me so curious now.

Lisa Bliss had it earlier this year, then she did a bunch of different tests afterwards...not sure what month but u can find some more details about her findings on her blog.

OK sorry for the ramble...SO glad ur feeling better & recover well hun!

GB said...

I am so glad to hear you are okay. This one was definitely one to learn from! I'm so glad you shared the experience with us. Take it easy and gear up for the next race. You ARE a tough cookie, for sure!!!

kelly said...

Thanks everyone. I really appreciate all the notes. I am resting and taking care of myself.

Anonymous said...

Your determination is truly inspiring. As Olga said, you achieved what you set out to do, now it's time to rest and really recover. Take care of yourself,


Anonymous said...

OMG, not again! Wow, Kelly, I'm sorry you suffered you suffered so much - again! - but I am amazed by your iron will and determination. Please take care of yourself girl.

Jennifer Ray

Carey said...

Wow; how scary! Glad to hear you are doing OK and thanks for sharing the story so I am aware of the symptoms of Rhabdo as I toe the line for Arkansas Traveler in a few weeks. I, too, was tracking you and was wondering what was happening when you seemed to stall. Praying for your quick recovery!
- Carey

Rooster said...

Wow Kelly, Way to pull through a tough day. Your mental determination is just amazing and I hope you have a fast recovery and are back to running very soon. I am sure I will see you again tearing up another race.

Jean Pommier said...

Wow, not a story to share with people who still believe that ultra is dangerous, like some family members...

Kelly your are an amazing example of tenacity and pushing the envelope of human resistance really far.

Take care of yourself!