A run in the mountains

It’s Wednesday morning and I’ve only ran once in the last week. I’m up in the mountains of western North Carolina playing poker for a few days at Harrahs Cherokee casino. I have a comped room for a couple of days and I work from my hotel room during the day and play cards at night. My last run was around the mall near my new apartment. It was a short 2 1/2 mile run. The cold morning air triggered an asthma attack and I didn’t have my inhaler with me so I had to cut it short. I hadn’t had an asthma attack in almost a year and had stopped carrying my inhaler with me. Maybe it was a minor chest cold or maybe just all the stress and exposure to allergens that had triggered it this time. I was gasping for air and feeling a little panicked by time I made it back to the apartment and took a few wonderful puffs on the inhaler. My lungs relaxed and I was able to breathe normally again but the short distance had me feeling frustrated. I had just moved out of my house the previous weekend and I skipped my long weekend run. I was falling behind on my marathon training and I needed to get back on track. I was planning on doing an 8 mile loop this morning but as I looked out across the cloud shrouded mountains from my window on the 15th floor, the rain was falling and my motivation waned. It was the excuse my brain needed to go back to sleep for a few hours. I checked the weather on my phone and it looked like it would be clear by lunchtime. I wouldn’t have time to do 8 miles on my lunch hour but I could get in 4-5 miles.

I had started a ketogenic diet on Sunday and I hadn’t eaten anything yet this morning as I was getting ready for my run. I got dressed while talking to a coworker about our latest code release at work and he’s also a good friend and more advanced runner. We had been talking about exogenous ketones and I had recently been given a couple of packets from a friend. I had tested myself when I woke up and my body still hadn’t gone into ketosis yet, so I was hoping this run would be the catalyst I needed to switch over my body’s fuel source. However, I was also worried about bonking out fairly early since my body still wasn’t adapted yet. I decided to give the exogenous ketones a try on my run. The version I had is the Pruvit Keto/OS Max, which means it also has caffeine. I had read that it was supposed to have powdered MCT oil along with the beta hydroxybutyrate but I didn’t see anything indicating that on the label. I poured the packet in my water bottle and shook it up. The fruit punch flavor wasn’t too bad considering what I had read about the bad taste of ketones. It did leave a bit of a chemical aftertaste but it was fairly mild. I worked for another half hour and by time I closed my laptop I could definitely feel an energy boost. How much of the boost was from the caffeine versus the ketones, I couldn’t say. I would like to try one without any other stimulants so I can get a baseline. Plus, I also like to get my caffeine for workouts from matcha. I ate a couple of Brazil nuts so I’d have a little something in my stomach and did my warm-up in the hotel room. I headed down the 15 flights of stairs to help get the legs going and came outside to one of those amazing early spring days when the sun is out and the air is clean and crisp. With my headphones in and my playlist going, I walked around the valet area for a minute to get the GPS locked in on my watch then hit the start button and headed away from the casino.

I ran along the main road toward the downtown tourist shops with traffic on my left and a trout stream to my right. My heart rate seemed to be staying lower than I expected for a longer period of time than usual. Especially considering that I hadn’t ran in a week and I was 1,000 feet higher in elevation than I normally am when I run; plus there was the caffeine in the keto punch. I wasn’t sure if it was the ketones I took or something else but I’ll be interested in paying attention to that in the future when I use exogenous ketones. My energy levels and legs felt good as I hit the first couple of miles and made a loop through the park where two mountain streams converge into one. I debated not bringing a water bottle since I knew I would only be out for 45 minutes or so, but I had grabbed one as I headed out for my run. I seemed to be thirstier than normal and again I wondered if it was because of the ketones or just my low-carb diet the last few days. It could be from the double vodka I had before bed, too.

There is a large bamboo stand along the bank of one of the rivers in the park. It is surreal to suddenly step from the smokey mountains with it’s hardwoods and pines to the middle of a bamboo forest. I hopped over the large fallen bamboo stalks across the trail and it felt good to be running on packed earth instead of blacktop and concrete. The heart rate alarm on my watch started going off as I went about 145 bpm. I felt too good to slow down until I came out the other side and back on to the sidewalk. I walked for 10 breaths to get my heart rate back in the correct range and then went back to my run. There’s a good sized hill as you head away from downtown and back to the casino and I pushed myself at a good pace (when I checked later, it turned out to be my best split other than the first mile out). Of course my heart rate spiked as I reached the top of the hill but I like to hit hills hard as a sort of small high intensity interval training, especially at the end of my runs. I hit 4.2 miles as I turned back into the hotel valet area with my empty water bottle in hand. I sprinted up the 15 flights of stairs to finish out the run and really push my legs a bit. I could feel the burn in my calves more than my quads which was odd.

I got back into the room just in time to dial in for a SCRUM meeting and I tried to catch my breath before I had to take the phone off mute and give my status update. After the meeting, I jumped in the shower and turned it to cold for the last few minutes. From the mini fridge, I grabbed a burger patty and some egg and jalapeno frittatas that I had brought from home. The ketones seemed to have worked and I still wasn’t overly hungry as I headed down to the food court to use the microwave. My willpower failed me and I took the elevator down this time. I heated up my food, filled up my water bottle and sat by the window staring out the window as the last of the clouds burned off from the morning rainstorm.






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