Three of the worst letters in the racing world. For those of you who don’t know, DSQ stands for disqualified. In general, being disqualified means that you did something wrong (cheated, littered, etc.). For me, DSQ means that my body gave up on me. My training was good and I went into the Silver Rush run feeling like I could conquer it and maybe even beat my time from the North Face 50. I didn’t get as much sleep as I wanted but I still got some. I ate a good breakfast, had my normal Tazo Awake Tea, and was relaxed before the start.
I positioned myself in the middle of the pack for the mad dash up Dutch Henri Hill, in perfect position to avoid getting crushed by the sprinters at the front while also staying in front of the walkers at the back. I enjoyed the first couple miles of rolling hills while watching the sun rise over the tree tops. Although it was chilly, I knew a big climb was coming and that would help warm me up. I was surprised when I saw my mom waving and cheering for me at the first aid station because I thought that it wasn’t crew accessible (it wasn’t but spectators were allowed so as long as I didn’t receive any aid from my mom and sister they could cheer me on from anywhere on the course). I stopped for a banana third and continued on to the climb.
The first climb had me cursing my mountain bike the day before because it seemed to never end and I am really slow when pushing my bike uphill. I remembered it starting around mile 4, but in reality it didn’t start until about mile 7, and continued until mile 10. I was climbing well and recorded a slowest mile of 16:35 (not bad since the course gained 2300 feet in the first 13.5 miles). I crested the climb in 2:30 and was on track to get to the aid station by the 3 hour mark.
And then all hell broke loose. I was feeling a little crappy on the climb but assumed that it was just a result of the altitude and that if I descended I would feel better. I started to jog down the road and suddenly I felt myself tripping. I opened my eyes, realizing they had been closed for who knows how long, looked at my watch, and realized that I was running at an 8:30 min/mile pace. The tripping with my eyes closed happened again so I slowed to a walk. I remember looking down at my hands and being concerned that they were three times there normal size (concerned enough to take this picture):
I don’t remember very much of the last three miles I walked except that I kept telling myself I had to make it to the timing mat at the aid station. At the start of the paved road I saw my sister standing with some other spectators cheering. I told her my race was over and I just wanted to turn my timing chip in. She walked with me back to the aid station and told my mom what was happening while I walked to the timing mat so I could have an official recorded time for that aid station (mainly for a comparison for next year). I then turned in my chip to the medic and was taken over to a cot to lie down. The medic took my blood pressure and heart rate, both of which were slightly lower than normal but nothing too concerning. When he tried to measure my blood oxygen saturation levels, he realized my hands were too cold to measure anything. I didn’t even realize that I was cold until about 20 minutes later when I started shivering even though my mom and sister had removed my sweat-soaked shirt and replaced it with my sister’s fleece, my 0 degree-rated down jacket, sweatpants, gloves, and jacket hood and then covered me with a blanket.
After being in the medic tent for about 20 minutes without being able to read my blood oxygen saturation levels, the head doctor decided to give me oxygen which officially disqualified me from the run. Not that it mattered since I sat there for so long I don’t think I could have made the cutoffs. I’ve never been given oxygen before and it was a strange sensation, feeling the cold O2 blowing into my nose. It almost immediately made my head stop feeling like it was going to explode but it took quite a bit longer (and a move into the sunshine) before my body started to warm up. They were finally able to get a reading of my oxygen saturation levels, and even after 20 minutes connected to the oxygen, my saturation levels were only at 85%. I sat around a little longer and joked with the doctor before they finally released me with a saturation level of 91% and strict instructions to go down to a lower elevation.
Although it sucks that I wasn’t able to finish the Silver Rush, I think I made the correct decision to seek medical aid. Even after being in Denver for 20+ hours, I still felt off yesterday at work. My cognitive function was significantly impaired to the point where I would have to stop after every couple of words to remember what I was saying. It was a pretty scary experience, more so know that I look back on it. At the time I thought it was entertaining but that was probably lack of oxygen putting me into a loopy state. I have a doctor’s appointment for later this week to hopefully find out why I had altitude sickness and hypothermia when it was 60 degrees and sunny outside. I guess I’ll take this as a learning opportunity and use it to fuel my training for next year. I’ll put this out there now so you all can hold me to this: Next year I will complete the Silver Queen with plenty of buffer around the cutoffs.