Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sauratown Trail is Hot Hot Hot!

Hannah (who I used to coach) & I were kind of dumb today. We ran the Sauratown Trail from Hanging Rock to Pilot Mountain. It's supposed to be 21.7 miles, but we got lost right off the bat and cut a little off later by going on a road instead of the trail. I guess we ran around 22 miles, but I'm not sure. My marathon ( 26.2 miles) PR is 3:22. We ran the 22 or so in 4:18!! I was DEFINITELY the slow one. Hannah had to wait on me quite a bit, but 22 miles on this trail are A LOT different than 26.2 on flat roads. Three factors for our/my slowness: 1) Condition of the trail; 2) I've had a respiratory infection for over a month!; 3) HEAT!

TRAILS- The trail is 94% on private lands, so it's a pretty neat concept. It's mainly designed for horses, but I'm not sure how you get horses on that trail. Really rocky, overgrown, not well-marked, etc. I was going faster on the flats than the downhills because of how rough it was. My legs were itchin' like crazy b/c of all the briars, poison ivy, etc. hanging over the trail. At times, we were wading through grass nearly up to our waists, saying, "Is this a trail?" My feet were the only thing that hurt. Pounding them into sharp rocks for over 4 hours will do that! The Sauratown Mts. are an eastern branch of the Appalachians. We ascended over 2400 ft., but there was only one tough climb for about a mile & honestly, we both thought it would be much worse.

SICK- I've been using a heartrate monitor every run for the past few weeks. I've noticed when I keep my HR under 155, I don't cough much, from 155-163, I cough more, and above 163, I cough like crazy. Feel like my lungs are filled with fluid. I was very cautious of this b/c once I start coughing, as Hannah says, "Game Over." From about 2:00-3:00, I did just that- coughed my head off and tried to walk quite a bit of the hills to control it. I'd run most of the way, but walk 5-10 steps every 3-4 minutes or so when we were in the hilliest part. There were a couple of times we walked longer sections, but that was later, due to the heat. The first third and the last third of the run, the coughing wasn't a factor.

HEAT- HOW COULD IT BE SO HOT??? It was 94 degrees when we finished. In the woods, it wasn't as bad, but there were a few stretches along roads with no shade. I drank about 120 ounces out there. That sounds like a lot, but it wasn't enough. I'm not sure how much Hannah had, but it was a little over 80 ounces, I think. An early sign of dehydration is hot skin. Mine felt like it was on fire after the first half. At most of the stream crossings, we splashed water all over ourselves. In the heat, more blood goes to the skin to cool your body off and less gets to the muscles & organs, which causes a drop in performance. The general rule of thumb is your performance drops :01/mile for every degree over 60 it is. At 94, that would be a :34/mile drop in performance. I'm not sure I need a formula to tell me I was slow!

A more serious sign of dehydration is a lack of sweating despite the heat & really hot skin. Around 2/3 of the way in I noticed our once soaked clothes were dry, our arms and hair were dry, and we just had a little sweat coming from our temples. I didn't mention it & I don't know if Hannah knew how dry she was. I started freaking out about water and around that time, we found a house with no one home & raided their spigot, pouring water on ourselves & guzzling tons of it. I would say either of us could've had heat exhaustion, which leads to heat stroke, which can lead to death. Lucky for us, we decided to get off the trail & run on the (HOT) road, where we found the house. If we had to wait 20-30 more minutes for water, we would've been really bad off. We had water drops every 4-5 miles and I carried 32 oz. with me on a belt- again, seems like a lot, but... We were lucky neither of us got the muscle cramping that goes along w/ dehydration. I've got to say it was a little scary to be out in the middle of nowhere not knowing what to expect and not having a way to stop, go home, find a convenience store, etc.

In the 90 minutes after we finished, I drank 56 ounces- almost 4 pounds (16 ounces of water = 1 pound of weight.). I didn't go to the bathroom from the time we finished until I went home, but I weighed myself as soon as I walked in. I was 6 pounds lighter than I was when I started this morning. Counting what I drank afterwards, that's really a 10 pound difference--- all water weight. That's not good at all. A 4% loss of body weight due to dehydration can cause serious damage to the body. Without saying how much I weigh, let's say 10 pounds is definitely over 4%.

OVERALL- Hannah had some leg problems, but was ready to go whenever I was. I waited on her only once all day. She waited on me 30 times, at least. My legs and everything were perfect, I was just held back by the coughing & the heat. It's frustrating to want to go, but just not being able to. I wonder how different our run would've been if I'd been well and the temp. had been around 45-50 degrees. 45-60 minutes faster, I'm sure. It was a good experience, but one we'll probably not do again! :) We had a good time, but I wouldn't recommend the trail unless you're looking for a true adventure.