Monday, May 16, 2011

Rhabdomyolysis and Ultrarunning

This weekend I read a story in the new June issue of TrailRunner Magazine titled, Up Against a Hardrock. It is a story about Diana Finkel's amazing 2010 Hardrock 100 race and its devastating aftermath.

I was especially drawn to this story for two reasons. The first is that in 2006, I was lucky enough to pace my good friend Stephen to a great finish there. I promised myself and Stephen that I would return there to kiss the rock myself. The second is that in 2006 and 2007, I ran Wasatch 100 and experienced, both times, the same condition as Diana did after Hardrock. It is a story worth reading because as extreme athletes, we push ourselves beyond normal. Sometimes we can push our selves over the edge and into a sometimes fatal condition, and always a very serious condition called Rhabdomyolysis.

I read this article that was written by Diana's husband and it took me back to my Wasatch DNF, where I was unable to finish because I knew I couldn't continue the last 25 miles crawling. It took me back to my 2nd Wasatch where I knew I had Rhabdo again, but I just had to redeem myself and finish this time. Both times I was hospitalized and was very sick. I was stupid during that 2nd Wasatch when I recognized the symptoms and practically crawled my way to the finish, sicker than a dog. We as ultra runners sometimes do stupid things. We cross health boundaries to achieve higher goals we set for ourselves and sometimes they have dire consequences. Rhabdomyolysis is a serious condition in which muscles break down quickly and spill their contents into the blood stream. Myoglobin is a protein that is contained in muscle cells, and if enough is spilled into the blood stream, it can clog the kidney's filtering system and lead to kidney failure and a variety of other serious medical consequences and complications. While muscles routinely get sore after physical activity, rhabdomyolysis takes that muscle injury to a higher level. Rhabdomyolysis is the result of massive muscle destruction.

Unfortunately, I have not returned to Hardrock to run that spectacular and difficult race. Rhabdo got in the way of that. I have done a couple of successful 100's since and several difficult races without problems. I hope Diana will be back to run 100's without issues too. Rhabdo is a reminder that we must take our health seriously even while pursuing our dreams. Maybe someday I will get a chance to kiss the Hardrock, maybe not. I'm okay with that.


wifi espaƱa said...

You completed various fine points there. I did a search on the matter and found the majority of folks will consent with your blog.

Jen said...

Wow. That's crazy. Perhaps it's good that our bodies are forcing us to rest

Will said...

I got Rhabdo at WS twice, but fortunately it didn't shut my kidneys down. I think downhill technique has a lot to do with this. Taking it easy during the steepest sections of the course should help. Maybe. Staying away from Advill/Motrin is a must. Good luck out there!

Mike said...

I enjoyed all the pictures. I love hiking myself.