Monday, October 15, 2007

Trail Running "Emergency"

So, I recently had my first trail running "emergency." Nothing serious, mind you, but an emergency nonetheless.

It was last week. I was trying to get in a couple hours after work, and before heading over to a high school football game that the son of one of my work mates was playing in. I work about 5 minutes from the Forest of Nicene Marks, of which I have written of before, so it's pretty easy for me to get in a nice run there after work (or before, if I could get my lazy butt out of bed early enough). I figured I could easily run up a trail an hour or so and then come back, do a quick change, and not be too late for the game.

Everything started out great. I was feeling good, running well and enjoying the forest scenery. We have had a little rain lately here in the Santa Cruz area so the Redwood forests are wet and beautiful. The particular route I took starts on a fire road, but after a short time I took a turn on single track. I'm cruising uphill, everything going well though after about 30 minutes I feel like maybe I need to get rid of some water instead of just taking it in - not unusual for me as I have highly efficient kidneys (at least that is how I like to think of it). I pull off the trail to relieve myself but quickly realize this could turn into a multi-event situation. No problem, just knock everything back, I think, and finish the run. Then relief can be had without problem.

Well, while I told myself this it seems as though some parts didn't get the memo. A few minutes later the first cramps start - you know those ones that practically double you over. It's basically your GI system saying "HEY, we're here and just want to remind you in case you had forgotten!" At this point, maybe 35 - 40 minutes in, I'm just hoping to get to 45 minutes and then turn around. There's an outhouse near a picnic area a little over halfway back to my truck, I tell myself. I can make it there and take care of business.

I turn around at 42 minutes.

At about 45 minutes - I know this because I'm really taking a hard look at my watch, by this point, to realistically estimate my time situation here - I have to stop to walk, as whatever is going on won't let me run. More watch checking and time calculating. I start to run again. I stop running to walk again. I start running again, only off trail behind some trees.

Explosiveness followed. Though I did make it to as suitable an area as can be hoped for given the circumstances. Fortunately it was late afternoon on a weekday and pretty much no one was on the trail.

Now maybe most of you carry TP with you on runs. I don't. Have never needed it on a run. Until now. I do keep it with me while on fishing trips. And hiking trips. And hunting trips. Basically anytime I'm going to be away from my vehicle for more than a couple hours as I have needed it many a time. Except for running. That is going to change.

High up in a Redwood forest, there is an amazing lack of broadleaf plants or trees. Down by the creeks there can be quite a few. But higher up on the hills there are none. At least where I was. Thank god for the fern. The ancient fern. I have found that the tips of a few sword ferns, doubled over, can, in an emergency, provide enough "coverage" to clean things up just enough to not embarrass oneself getting back to your vehicle. Don't get me wrong, it's certainly not ideal and not as squeezable as Charmin. But it's much better than nothing, and those consequences.

I felt fine after, got rid of the problem right then. I continued back, though, eager to finish the "cleansing" process at the nearest outhouse, which I made in pretty good time (all downhill) :-)

I did make it to the football game. Unfortunately my work mate's son had already played. And it seems the coach of his team is having some troubles cycling kids through the games on a regular basis so I didn't get to see him play. They won, I make it home and everyone lived happily ever after. Or something like that.

Sorry if I offended anyone with this post. It is a part of running, though. And this is a blog about running. Even if you haven't yet (yes, YET!) experienced this aspect of running, I'm sure you know stories. Well, as least now you do.


Addy said...

eeks, not a good emergency to have! Thankfully hadn't had that experience myself, but its a good reminder to make sure you're prepared for all situations out there :)

Andy B. said...

Hey Addy. Yeah, definitely one of my less glamorous running moments :D Now I have a small amount of TP in a plastic baggie stuffed in my hydration pack. Gotta try to avoid those ferns, they were not made for that purpose!

BTW, great job at DC50. You really smoked it!