Monday, April 16, 2012


I never thought I will tell someone "Yea, I didn't manage the race correctly. I got hyponatremia".

For those who don't know what hyponatremia is, here is a definition
Hyponatremia is a condition that occurs when the level of sodium in your blood is abnormally low.

It is funny, because hyponatremia has incorrectly been dubbed as a "slower runner's" issue. It got this label as a result of a few isolated incodents in big city marathons. In the severe cases, it happened to runners finishing or tracking in the 5+ hour time.

Problem is, it has less to do with speed and everything to do with water intake and how much one sweats.

Up until yesterday, I would have added to the precious sentence "and how much electrolytes you are taking". Well...... there is a catch to that last sentence. And I can't believe I have missed it in my now 2+ years of struggling with this.

Here is the bombshell quote from Karl King, founder of Succeed! spots nutrition.
The sodium concentration in extra-cellular fluid is the ratio of weight of sodium ions to weight of water. So, if I have too much water, I can just add more sodium, right? Well, it depends on where you are with respect to normal sodium content in the body. If you have too little sodium, then adding more will help you return to normal. An example many runners have experienced would be low sodium with adequate water, leading to puffiness in the hands and wrists. Taking in more sodium will correct the situation and the puffiness will go down.

But if you have the right amount of sodium, adding a lot more is not good. Excess sodium can increase thirst and prompt more drinking, which is bad if you already have too much water on board ( excess weight ).

Thus, the safest course is to drink to maintain body weight ( or be a little down ), and take sodium supplementation conservatively. A deficiency of water or sodium can be corrected within minutes, but correcting excesses of either one can take hours.

The thing that really hit me is figure out hydration FIRST, then electrolytes.

Take a look at the table on here. It is Karl's table of electrolytes. I went through an asked myself "did I experience this based on these symptoms?"

I tried to relive the last few.... okay, many DNF's, and they all told a somewhat different story. But what they all had in common was overhydration. Superior last year was the best example of moderating it, though. I clearly remember my fingers getting puffy, then going away. It happened many times. This is..... A GOOD SIGN! meaning I (we.... Bill P the crew) were keeping the conditions at bay, and adjusting.

I also look at the "low hydration" column and realize I have not felt these symptoms in a while. I have felt all of them, but not in any recent races. And notice the fix for that column, very simple. The fix for overhydration seems simple as well, but as Karl said

A deficiency of water or sodium can be corrected within minutes, but correcting excesses of either one can take hours.

So what do I do? Over the next 2 weeks I am going to do my best to test this again. I will
> Weigh myself as much as I can before and after runs, and see what my %dehydration is
> Run a 50k loop at afton consuming half the water I am used to, and see what happens.

Guess I have my work cut out for me in the next 2 weeks. I have to redeem myself at Ice Age. If I can't work this out/figure this out, then I am throwing in the racing towel and switching to crew/volunteering. It aint' worth it.

I came home on Saturday in an unhealthy state. It wasn't good for the family balance.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Zumbro 50 Mile report

In short, I put forth a miserable performance.

To say I am frustrated is an understatement.

Another DNF, another struggle with hydration, fuel, electrolyte imbalance.

I completed 2 of the 3 loops. If I went for a 3rd loop, I would have gone into the body destruction mode. I did not want to do that with Ice Age in 4 weeks.

I originally considered this as a training run, and let myself get amped up to make this a race.

It is what it is, and it ended up as a brutal training run.

But.... I did not damage... physically.

Emotionally I am struggling as my body has clearly changed in the last few years, and I am struggling to adapt.

So chalk it up as a training run.

At least this puts me in a great position to have a great run at Ice Age.

Many great stories out there yesterday and the day before. Hopefully I will get the motivation to capture some of them.

At least I got another cool shirt :)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Strategy on racing

Most of us keep a plan or strategy on how to run an upcoming race quiet. The reasons are two fold.

1 - One does not want to reveal to the other runners what you will try to do
2 - One does not want to make a grand plan all to fail miserably, and crash and burn.

Since I am not a force to contend with, I decided I will reveal my plan. There are so many new faces and names out there, I don't think it matters at all.

My plan is simple. I will take what the race and day gives me.

The 50 Miler starts Midnight on April 13th (okay, Saturday morning the 14th). The race director actually put in print that it starts at 12:01 am.

First 10 miles - Stay calm. Conserve energy. Run light. Monitor fuel/liquid. Stay calm.

Second 20 miles - Use the flat sections as an opportunity to "run". Keep it easy, but don't hold back too much as there are plenty of runnable sections. Walk the uphills, gently glide the down hills. Keep the heart rate medium/low.

20 - 30 - This is where the race starts to come together. Inexperienced runners will start to struggle here. Focus on the gait, and make sure form is not falling apart. Poor form leads to extra energy spent, to much stress on muscles you don't use, and a bad disposition. I find the key factor in this section is to stay happy, comfortable, and balanced. I might get cold at this point, so staying sufficiently dry and warm is key. If you are dry and warm, you feel good. If you feel good, you stay in the game. I also have to adjust to food and liquid preferences. Drink coffee before I need it. Remember that once the sun comes up, it is a new day and life will come back mentally and physically.

30 - 40 - The hardest part of a 50. The hardest thing to do at this point is just focusing on getting to 40. Keep moving. Minimize time at aid stations. Get to 40, get out of any funk you are in, utilize any runnable opportunities to get to 40. It's all about the 40 at this point for me. Once you are in the 35 - 40 range, any stupidity conducted earlier in the race would have already come to the surface. At this point, there aren't too many dumb things you can do to ruin your race (relatively speaking). Might as well start thinking about "throwing it down" and going for it. Whatever that might mean at that point.

40 - 50 - Final leg. Counting down the miles. Do everything I can to maintain pace. Maintain pace, maintain pace. Keep eating and drinking. Less experienced runners stop eating at this point, leading to serious crash and burns in the last 5 miles. As long as one is maintaining a solid pace, it is tough to get passed. Other runners tend not to up the pace and kill it the last 5 miles. You think you are going all out, but 45 miles or so on the legs make an 8 minute mile seem like a 6.

One you get to 45, it is just a "getting it done" mindset.

So that is my strategy, even it if sounds like a complete void of details and insight.

Bottom line, I will listen to my body and heart, and see what God gives me.