Monday, September 28, 2015

Food, Glorious Food (Marathon Training, Week 16)

Two weeks until the big marathon, Major #1, and I’m having some, um, digestive issues.  Mainly, that I either have to take a long bathroom break in the middle of a race or give myself hemorrhoids (or both).  When you talk about five hours of running, the discomfort and distraction is significant, and as I get closer to qualifying for the Boston Marathon, a bathroom break can mean the difference between qualifying and “see you next year.”

Now, I am the type of runner who tries to roll with the punches, no matter the circumstances.  There’s so much I can control (my training, my diet), but there’s a lot I can’t control (the weather, how my body will feel, illness, injury).  However, this bathroom issue is in that grey area:  I can control my diet, I can time my bathroom breaks, I can run through every discomfort, but I can’t control how my body will react to the race.

However, no matter what I do, I can’t seem to get everything through and out my system, so the bouncing of running creates the need for a bathroom break.  I’ve eaten big meals, small meals, high carb, high protein, meat, no meat—with no relief.

My next plan is to significantly increase my fiber and water in the next week or so, to “clean out” my digestive track, and then hope there won’t be any extra left.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Injured? (Marathon Training, Week 15)

On Saturday, I did a supported 20 mile run.  In addition to a gear check and aid stations, it featured pacers, so it was an opportunity to practice not going out too fast at the start.  My lovely boyfriend signed up to run with me, and we were able to stay with the pace group through the first five miles before he decided to turn around and go back to the start/finish.

My goal was to stick with the pacer as long as possible.  When we got to mile 9, I really needed to use the bathroom, and that trip caused me to lose sight of the pacer.  I pushed a bit and caught up with them around mile 11…and then it happened. 

I’ve been having weird ankle discomfort on and mostly off this summer.  Not painful, but more like I need to crack it—but I can’t.  At mile 11, the discomfort turned into pain.  I kept running, kept sticking with the pacer, and by mile 14, was able to surge past the pace group because I was feeling so much better. 

By mile 15, the pace group had caught up, and when I had to switch my phone armband at mile 16, I started to struggle keeping with the group.  However, I did have the energy to sneak up behind my boyfriend around mile 17.5 and flip his baseball cap.  J 

I forced myself to continue jogging to the end, and actually did have a final burst of speed.  In the end, I was well under my goal pace, but my ankle was not a happy camper.  I struggled to put weight on it all afternoon and into the evening, and spent most of the next day icing and elevating it.
By Tuesday, it was well enough to join my running club for hill runs, but I fear I need new shoes before Marathon Sunday, which is 2.5 short weeks away.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Diva Moments (Marathon Training, Week Thirteen)

Sometimes, racing shows us our worst moments.

A couple weeks ago, the leader of our run club posted a deal—a half marathon in Wisconsin with a $35 entry fee.  I couldn’t resist, and signed up, knowing that it was a new marathon to a new location.  I questioned that decision all week, because I would have to drive myself into Milwaukee, figure out parking, get to the pickup on time, and basically stressing about getting to the start line on time.

I’ve been doing this running thing FOR 26 YEARS.  You would think that getting to a start line would be old hat.  Nope.  I worry about oversleeping, missing trains, getting lost, not leaving enough time….it goes on and on.  Actually running the race is easier!  As a result, I don’t have much stomach for cutting the time close.

(Side note:  I don’t do a ton of races.  Partially because they’re expensive, and partially because I don’t run to race.  I run to enjoy beautiful scenery, clear my mind, release tension, and stay healthy, and racing all the time doesn’t really do any of that.)

If I’m driving to a race, my plan is always to arrive when registration opens, giving me plenty of wiggle room.  I usually need to stop twice—once for my breakfast of coffee and a protein bar, and once for a potty stop—so extra time is never a bad thing. 

My sweet boyfriend, hearing my whining about logistics, offered to drive me up to the race, despite having to be in Chicago later that afternoon.  He thought that leaving an hour to get to the race was plenty of time; I wanted to give some buffer time.  At first, the trip was easy, telling us that we’d get there around 7 am, a full half hour before packet pickup closed and an hour before the race.  We decided to stop at a big box store so I could use a flush toilet, then as the rain poured down, purchased ponchos.  I was starting to get nervous about getting there on time, since the stop took longer than I expected.

We got back in the car, looked at the GPS, and suddenly it was predicting a 7:21 arrivial.  Way too close.  I tried to stay calm, but then not only did we get turned around by the GPS, but it directed us to a public transit parking lot across the river.  By that point, it was 7:05, and I was two steps from a full-on panic attack.  Yes, there were 25 minutes, and it was a small race, but we didn’t know where we needed to be.  I pulled up the parking assistance map, which seemed to indicate that we needed to enter the park on a neighboring street.  My boyfriend saw the entrance to the park, but I yelled at him to instead take the next left, assuming that the roads in the park were being used for the race and were closed.  When we got to the park entrances on the map, we discovered they weren’t roads, and my boyfriend kept going, looking for a park entrance.

At this point, I needed out of the car and into the park.  I was fully panicked and convinced we’d be circling the park past the packet pickup.  I told my boyfriend to stop and I’d meet him later.  I streamed out of the car, flying into the park and towards the start line.  I was shaking with panic when I got to the packet pickup….and as it turned out, had plenty of time.  My boyfriend walked up to me, shaking his head.

It was an eye-opener.  Chicago is an easy marathon for me, since I’ve completed it twice.  When I do the other marathons in my quest, getting to the start line might be complicated by unfamiliar instructions and in two cases, foreign languages.  The adrenaline of panic can cause me to go out too fast in the first couple miles, which really need to be calm affairs.  I’m supposed to be channeling Cinnamon Carter, not panicking into the unknown.

The reminder is that I have to do more research into my races before I leave so I’m not uncertain, plus adding more buffer time for the unexpected.  Having a better sense of where I was headed would have lessened the panic and turnaround time.

I’ve signed up for a 20 mile supported training run with friends, so I hope it will go more smoothly.