== Fiction. this is a chapter from David’s book: Make a Run For It ==
The next weekend, I decided it was time to start extending my run time. Belle had mentioned that I should slowly extend my runs to build endurance. My target was to ramp up to two and a half hours, about the time I expected for completing the Dragons Den.
I headed out to the Leon Creek trail. This is a nice paved trail for bikers, runners, and walkers. It extends along a seasonal creek for dozens of miles, so it was an ideal place for a long run. It was going to be another hot day, so I took two bottles of water with me.
I headed out onto the trail, passing some walkers and ran over a pedestrian bridge. The occasional mountain bike sped by me.
The trail has mile markers every quarter mile, so it is pretty easy to tell how far and fast you are going. Even though I felt like I could run continuously, I harnessed myself in and alternated running and walking.
I heard the book-boom beat of music coming up behind me and looked back. Just another biker broadcasting their music for the world to share. He sped by me, trailing conjunto music that faded into the trail ahead of me.
Wow, the heat was definitely building up. I made sure to take a few sips from my water bottles every 20 minutes. The occasional deer darted across the path. A walker in front of me stopped to get a picture of a fawn and her mother that were in turn watching the people on the trail. The deer where not too impressed with the people and I wouldn’t be surprised if they let someone take a selfie with them.
I went out for an hour, and was still feeling pretty good. Not fresh for sure, but not too bad. I was actually a bit full from the water I was drinking. I was just at my turn around point, which was one of the many trail heads that dots the trail. This one had some porta potties and a couple fountains. I went to the fountains to refill one of my water bottles. The water was very warm, almost hot, but at least I wouldn’t go thirsty.
Now back onto the trail for the return trip.
The heat of the day was hitting, and there was hardly anyone else left on the trail. The short rest to fill up my bottle gave me a little more energy, so I decided to dispense with the walking and run all the way back.
Ten minutes into the running, I started to get a bit nauseated. My stomach felt like water was just sloshing around. My hands felt like they were swelling a bit; it was kind of hard to make a fist. I poured some water down the back of my shirt to try to cool off a bit. It did not help. I was really, really hot.
It was getting harder to make progress, I felt like I was running through deep sand. Every step was getting harder. My breathing was getting shallow and fast. I slowed to a walk.
I noticed that my arms had become dry, I wasn’t sweating anymore. Pinpricks of bright light flew in front of me eyes. This was not looking good.
I took off my running cap to try and cool down. The sun was hitting by head, but it did not feel that hot. How could that be? I sluggishly thought to myself that I might be close to dying. No one else was on the trail.
My legs were not following my directions. I had to focus and almost will them to move. It was painful. It felt like they were disconnected from me and encased in lead. I decided that the only thing to do was to get back to the car. Get back to the air conditioning.
I dazedly saw a bench through the haze and stumbled over to it. I sat down. Just a few minutes, I though. Maybe I’ll start to feel better. I felt my vision tunneling a bit. I must have blacked out for a few seconds, because I suddenly opened my eyes again. The sitting was not helping.
A saw a man walking by my bench. I couldn’t quite make him out through my tunnel vision, but he appeared to be wearing a Los Angeles Angels baseball jersey. In fact, he appeared to be in a full baseball uniform. I tried to hail him, but not even a weak “help” came out. He walked on by.
I got up slowly and tried to keep him in sight. I plodded slowly through the heat. My legs were barely working. I must have looked drunk. The quarter mile markers rewound as I passed them. I could not believe how slow I was going.
My vision had reduced to a small tunnel in front of me with the baseball player in the center. Got to keep him in sight! I felt extremely hot, and had stopped sweating. My arms had goosebumps.
The baseball player seemed to turn off the path just as my car came into sight. I stumbled forward until I reached it. Where were my keys, I thought? Focus! OK, they are in my pocket. I could do this. I unlocked and got into the car, and started it. I kicked the A/C onto high, blasting it straight into my face. I felt bloated, woozy, and wanted to vomit.
The A/C started to slowly work its magic. My vision came back. My hands were still swollen, but at least I could move my fingers. I drank some sports drink that I had left in the car. Hot, but maybe it would help.
When my wits returned, I drove home carefully.
Ana was furious with me when I described what had happened. “Why didn’t you just call me from your cell phone?” she asked.
I explained that I would have, but wasn’t thinking to clearly at the time. She switched to nurse mode and helped me get cleaned up, get some food in me, and into bed to rest. I slept the sleep of the dead and came to a few hours later.
“I’ve been doing some research for you”, she said. When she did research on the Internet, she was a rock star. “You mentioned that you drank a ton of water, and you felt full?”
“Yes, “I replied, “full and sloshy. Felt like my stomach was bloated.”
“OK, “she said “looks like you had a specific type of heat exhaustion. It’s called Hyponatremia. You had too much water without electrolytes. You diluted your body’s sodium and potassium so much that your muscles started to fail. Your brain was swelling and about to turn off. Some people even get hallucinations.” She continued, “If you had not been able to cool down and get some more Gatorade, you were really, really close to needing a medivac.”
“Holy cow!” I exclaimed. I felt ill. The info really scared me. One more Lesson Learned. I drank some more Gatorade and went back to bed.