Nik suggested that I massage my quad a little to help stave off the cramping. As I sat on the rock conveniently placed on the side of the trail, massaging my thigh, Nik told me how I might have died if I was in the Canadian Death Race. He said a bear would have found me and that I wouldn't be able to climb a tree and then I would be dead. Then he laughed at me - continuously - as we ran through the lower trails of the Hartland Dump. It was here that I had an epiphany.
You see, I started this run with lots of water and food, but no electrolytes. Rookie mistake. The epiphany went something like this - sweat is how I am losing salts. I know at the end of long hot races I have salt marks on my face. I wonder if there is salt on my skin. A quick like of my arm suggested that there was in fact salt on my skin. I need salt to forestall the cramping in my quads. There is salt on my skin. Thus began the reclamation of salt from my sweat.
It gets worse.
If there is salt on my skin, I wonder if there is salt in my merino wool base layer as it is holding a lot of my sweat.
So, as we descending out of the dump toward West Saanich Rd, I tried desperately to get salt back into my muscles without inducing anymore cramping. Nik continued to laugh at me, even after he left me at the corner of Prospect Lake Rd and West Saanich, wishing my luck on my journey back to Thetis. He had my pegged at a 6 hour run based on my current state. He was wrong.
After thanking Nik for getting me to the turn off, I focused on myself. I walked the hills on Prospect Lake and had to come to a complete massage stop a few times, but I managed, and I made it slowly to Francis King Park.
Once at Francis King I could sense that I was going to finish the run. Prospect Lake Rd had been a bit of a soul search, but a great learning experience. I knew that I had to make it through this run (or run/walk). The whole point of the endeavour was to go longer than I had ever gone before in order to see what happened to my body. I found out. Now it was what was going to happen with my mind that was important.
I started to feel better once I got off the road. Francis King is a beautiful park and I was excited to be in it. I knew my way home now. I was starting to run more than walk and hills were ok, although still a little tenuous.
Upon exiting Francis King and entering Thetis Lake, I began to feel overwhelmed. This was my stomping ground and the realization that I would soon be leaving this amazing place struck a cord. I soaked up the moment and quietly thanked the park for the hours of life it had given me. I continued to run, albeit slowly, and made my way through three hills that signify the last hurdle to all the wonderful races that occur at Thetis. I did my best to run them, to show them the respect that they deserve, but the fast hike was all that I could manage.
The final descent toward the lake was bittersweet. I was elated that I had finished the run, but saddened that the run was over. I knew that there wouldn't be time to do another run like this before leaving, so this was the only epic run I would be able to do prior to my Icelandic expedition. I had learned a lot about what is required to run for 5 hours, and I was pleased with my finishing time of 4:30. I have races to run prior to Iceland, but this run was me pushing myself in a way I hadn't before.
I liked it.