Posts Tagged ‘gross’

Riverside Drive and a New To Me Garmin

I am solidly six weeks into marathon training.  So far it has been pretty good, with some ups and some downs.  Last week was an unusually down week, with a change in my diet and some insomnia creating a period of very low energy, before bouncing back by the end of the week.  I felt really amazing Thursday through Saturday.  Otherwise . . .


So yesterday, I suffered one of my worst runs ever.  It was an 11 mile route along the always challenging Riverside Drive.  Now, I like Riverside, and ran it voluntarily and solitary about 3 weeks ago for a 9 mile route.  But like it or not, it is very, very challenging.


I meant to write about how I was gifted last Monday with a used Garmin and how it has been a help and a hurt in my running.  A help in that I can do a better job of maintaining the pace I want and even speed it up, and a hurt in that I can look at my current pace and feel intense despair over how slow it seems compared to the effort I am exerting (see the mention of low energy above, though too).  Anyway, against my instincts and a reasonable suggestion from the donator, I decided to wear it yesterday for the long run with Team Cocoa.


So, first things first: thanks to the Garmin, I know that in my attempt to stay with the main pack, I ran my first mile of 11 at a 10:20 pace, which for me, for a long run, is WAY TOO DAMN FAST.  Add to that that within the first mile, even holding a low to mid-10 min per mile pace, I was falling quickly to the back of the pack.  I was among the last 3 by mile 5.  This was not a good place for me to be, mentally, though at this point, I was physically doing well and looking forward to the remaining 6 miles.


Once we got on Riverside Drive itself, after the absolute brutal climb up from the Nickel Bridge to Forest Hill Avenue, I started feeling that awful feeling in my stomach:  I needed a little blue house and I needed it soon.  Miles 5 and 6 were tough, hilly, and my stomach was cramping. I was running with the last two team members and Coach Adam who always brings up the rear.


At mile 7, when we got to the main entrance to the Buttermilk Trail very close to the Lee Bridge, I found the much needed rest-stop and assured the team I could find my own way home (it was a very straightforward and familiar route anyway).  After suffering miserably in the sweatbox of the porta-john, I came out feeling a little light headed but got underway again to cross the Lee Bridge, a portion of the route that I enjoy the most, which no one else seems to.  After the shady but very still and moist air of Riverside Drive, the strong breezes that blow above Belle Isle and the James River feel very refreshing to me.


But it was once I was across the bridge that everything fell to shambles.  My legs felt like I was running through wet cement.  If I closed my eyes, I saw blue sparkles.  The lightheadedness became more pronounced.  I tried running for a block and walking for a block for a while, drinking my water, and hoping to find a second wind.


It never came.  I decided it was time to trim the route a little (by then, there was simply no short cut back to the stadium), and I cut the diagonal across Monroe Park, and rather than follow Monument back to the Boulevard, I made my way to Broad, again, to slightly cut the diagonal of the route, and took the walk of shame for the last 3 miles.


My body hurt in ways that seemed to have nothing to do with running.  My sides and back hurt.  The pressure of my running bra on my shoulders was nearly unbearable.  The cuff of my tights around the base of my knees felt awful.  I was a massive ball of pain for reasons unknown.


It was crazy to collapse like that, because the previous weekend, I had run 10 miles, hopped in the car, drove 4 hours into the mountains, and set up a camp and was quite physically active for the rest of the day, only slightly tired from my early morning exertions.  After yesterday, the best I could do was pour myself into a Epsom salt bath and then sleep for 4 or 5 hours afterwards.  I don’t know that I would have gotten up when I did except Byram said “The World Cup is starting” and I was up like a shot.  To go back to lying on the couch.


What caused the collapse?  Was it because I didn’t eat a little something before I ran?  Was it because I never took a rest day last week and even doubled up workouts a couple of days (running and power yoga)?  Was it because I had too much water and not enough electrolytes?  Was it because I had GI troubles both before and during the run (probably caused by the very greasy smoked bratwurst I had for dinner the night before)?  Not enough sleep?  Not enough calories?  Too much heat?  Too fast at the start?  The very challenging route?  All of the above???


It was probably all of the above and even some factors I haven’t considered yet.  It was enough to leave me wondering if maybe I am not cut out for a marathon yet, though.  Maybe I should switch over to the half marathon before I do more serious damage?  No, I don’t really believe that.  My coworker and the donator of the Garmin reassured me this morning that sometimes these runs happen, and he recalled having to stop on the exact same route a few years back and recover before he could make the last 3 miles back to the stadium.  Of course, he hasn’t managed a full marathon yet, either, and he has been running for many years more than I have.


I feel like I only write when things go wrong, but what is there to say about Saturday morning’s humid 5.5 mile run that went just fine (except, again, for some stomach cramps right at 4.5 miles)?  I felt great on Saturday  Even despite  the GI distress, I felt good enough on Saturday to add a little length to the route and take a fast sprint down a steep hill on a side street near my house.  How did my weekend workouts go from so right on Saturday to so wrong on Sunday?  I can’t explain it.


So today begins a 3-day liquid fast for me.  I decided last week that I needed a total body reboot and I have had success with these fasts in the past.  My diet will consist of 3-4 protein shakes a day, as much water, herbal tea, and coffee as I want, and a cup of bullion a day (I need the salt in this heat).  I know this will bring my energy levels down somewhat for the next few days, but I can accept that trade for a reduction in water weight, a renewed focus on what I put in my mouth, and usually an end to sugar and carb cravings.


Today is cross-training day and I plan to get on the rowing machine for 30 minutes at lunch.  Tomorrow is 3 miles at home, 6 miles on Wednesday, and 3 miles again on Thursday.  I have been adding in yoga and core training workouts from Byram’s Diamond Dallas Page YRG yoga videos.  Those have been very effective and I can discern a real difference in things like my downward dogs (heels are down after a the first few minutes of any workout), my Three Legged Dog is getting taller and less wobbly, and my lunges are definitely getting stronger and more stable.  So while still not a fan of ordinary main-stream yoga routines, I am having fun and finding success with DDP’s yoga, as much as I cringe at some of his more sexist comments, or roll my eyes at the alternative names he gives to some of his poses.


So, feeling better today, I refuse to let yesterday’s awfulness stop me yet.  I have 18 more weeks until race day.  I am sure there will be other horrible workouts in all of those miles, and I am also sure I will have some stellar days.  I have particular faith that when the mercury starts to fall and the humidity comes down out of the “breathing underwater” range, that my workouts will improve.  Just writing all this out has helped improve how I feel about yesterday and how I feel about going forward with Team Cocoa and my status as the sweeper.


I will keep on working at staying positive (hard for me) and keep racking up the miles (less hard).


The Quest Begins

So it begins. The Quest for 26.2 miles has started. It began yesterday in the bright sun and blessedly cool Sunday morning at SportsBackers Stadium. I am on Team Cocoa, which the coach, Ellie, joked about us looking like UPS drivers if we actually try to wear cocoa colored clothing. It is the slower team of the two intermediate teams. The faster team intermediate team looks like it is made up of human cheetahs. My team, not so much.

The intermediate teams were scheduled to run 7 miles, the novice team was running 4.

Gory details to follow:

Since I had poisoned myself the previous day with too many delicious but wildly greasy carbs at an awesome restaurant called My Noodle, my GI system was completely uncooperative. At the best of times, my pouch and small intestine (minus about 7 feet of it) are unpredictable, but yesterday’s reaction was completely predictable in the worst sort of way. It is the main hazard of being a Gastric Bypass patient and an athlete (dehydration being a close second).

Within the first 10 minutes of the run, despite my best efforts, I knew I was in trouble and I knew the only bathroom on the route was the bathroom in Bryan Park, which would be about the 3 mile mark (yes, I know almost every single open and available bathroom in the City). I suffered for those three miles, but I made it. While shuttered up in that sketchy little bathroom, I did the math and recognizing that there were no other rest stops along the rest of the 7 mile route, I decided to cut off the “Northside neighborhoods” section of the route and went straight back to the Diamond on the Boulevard. That took a little less than 2 miles off the planned route, but it saved me from more misery.

When I hit Brooklyn Park Avenue, where the planned route and my alternate route met back up, I wound up a pack of fast runners from the Green team; those human cheetahs. Most of them were running in the 8:30 minute/mile range and I couldn’t keep up, but running with them and being a half mile from the end, I knew I could damn well speed up. My insides cooperated long enough and I think I ran that last half mile in the 9:45 min/mile range. I was grinning like a hooligan in spite of everything. I could feel a change in my brain. I am really, truly, officially, and finally training for a Marathon.

You would think I would be unhappy or upset that I didn’t make the full distance on my first week of training, but I’m not. I know my body. I know its limits. I know I could have run those two miles if my system had cooperated. It was a beautiful morning and a familiar route. But I also know myself well enough to know that I would have ended up walking, with severe cramping and doing the “two-cheek-squeak” for the last miserable mile, and I would have felt horrible.

Two extra miles was not worth that kind of suffering.

So aside from all the miles I am going to log in the next 5 months, there are a bunch of other considerations to make to keep myself healthy and uninjured.

Diet: I want to limit repeats of Sunday morning’s gastro-intestinal festival, and that means being careful with carbs, avoiding dehydration, and seeking high quality calories. I need the most bang for my nutritional buck that I can get. No 3pm dashes to the vending machine for a rice krispy treat. I am trying to keep my desk stocked with nutritious options for when the mid-afternoon munchies hit. Whole wheat crackers and natural peanut butter (my variety has added flax seeds, for what that’s worth), mandarin orange pieces in no sugar added liquid, and high quality dark chocolates for those moments when chocolate is a must (it happens). Lunches will be lean protein and vegetables. Breakfasts will not devolve into an egg and cheese bagel from Cupertinos; hard boiled eggs, Greek yogurts, and occasionally things like steel cut oatmeal (have to be careful with oatmeal though; I need extra protein or my blood sugar gets a little wonky).

We regularly plan dinners that are pretty healthy, and they are usually planned on a weekly basis, with an emphasis on balancing Byram’s low-purine food requirement, my lowish-carb requirement, and my Mom’s need for variety.

I am making it a point to really focus on getting all my daily supplements in. I know what the FDA says about vitamin supplements, but their recommendations are for the general populace, not someone who has 7 feet of missing intestine and absorbs only about 2/3rds of everything she consumes. For me, vitamin supplementation is a must.

Cross Training: I know from my history that because I sit all day, my mid-section is kinda soft like a gummy bear, while at the same time, my hip flexors are tight as piano wire. The perfect recipe for injury. Mondays on the schedule are x-training days and I am going to focus most of those days on core strengthening and stretching. In fact, I am going to bring a yoga mat to work. There is a section of the 2nd floor where no one ever comes and I can do a full core workout without any gym equipment and never have to leave my building. Over the summer, when time allows, I might add in some evening swims with Grace at the Y. Being in the water will take my weight off what are sure to be sore muscles, while at the same time, you get some resistance training and cardiovascular benefits. Also, Grace time is Good Time.

Yoga: This goes hand in hand with X-training, but needs to become a regular act. At least on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I need to get up and do a yoga routine in the morning or before I go to bed if I run in the early a.m. during the hottest part of the summer. Again, injury prevention is my main goal; I can’t cross a finish line if I am too hurt to get to the starting line.

Sleep: it’s nature’s Reboot Button. It’s a key element of a good immune system (distance athletes are not famous for their abilities to fight off a cold). It’s when your body builds muscle. It’s when your whole system slows down and recovers from the strain of hard core training. I am going to start aiming to be in bed between 9-10 pm every night because many mornings are going to see me up and at them for early a.m. runs by 4:30 and 5 a.m. A morning glory I am not, but I am going to work on it.

Finally, and probably oddest…

Positive thinking: My mind is my greatest enemy. It is crueler to me than 100% humidity, 90 degree temps, and double digit distances. I have the power to make it my greatest ally. And so I shall work to that end. Stop the self-mutilating mental talks. “I am the slowest person on the team!” needs to become “I am lucky to be running with such amazing folks. I bet I can catch up to them just a little if I push just a little harder.” “Oh my god, 20 miles will feel like forever.” needs to become “I really cherish ‘my time’ and I am lucky to have the next several hours all to myself.” I can work on it, but the mind is the hardest thing to train. Wish me luck.

Struck Out and Then Struck Down

No updates all week because…well, I guess I’ll tell you why.

I did go run my 11 miles last Saturday, and…well…this is hard to admit out loud, but I will. I didn’t love it. I hated it. Those last two miles were hell. I discovered what the “wall” is. I didn’t think you could hit “the wall” on such short distances, but when I found myself unable to even barely lift my feet to trudge up the last hill, tearful, sick in my heart and my stomach, I was pretty sure that was the Wall.

I tried a new fueling plan last week. I started out with a GU while still in the truck, a few minutes before taking off. I don’t eat breakfast before these long runs and for such a long run, I thought it would be good to have something in the tank before even starting out. And I think that was a success; I felt great for the first 7 or 8 miles. However, I was significantly more thirsty than usual. I had already gotten into my water bottle on my fuel belt by the time I hit 2 and a quarter miles, where my training team had set of a SAG stop (I am assuming SAG stands for “stop and go” but I have never asked to be sure), and so I topped it off there at the SAG. Then we had about 7.5 miles to run before getting back to the SAG, and I was completely out of water only 5 miles into that distance. I drank something like 20 ounces of water in 6 miles. I think that was too much.

I took my second GU around mile 6 or so. I had a third one packed but it was not a GU, it was a ClifShot, and I had been wary of it since I had never tried one before. Anyway, by the time I hit the SAG on the way back, with only 2.25 miles to go, I was terribly thirsty, and wearing down.

I wasn’t thinking especially clearly by that point, I just wanted it to be over. But in not thinking clearly and having run out of water, I chose not to take that third energy gel. That was a mistake. The only bright spot in the last 2 miles was when I had stopped to walk along Cary Street, and a guy said to me “Pick it up, slack ass.” I wasn’t even offended (too tired to be offended), I just replied “Slack ass indeed,” (too tired to come up with a witty answer). He laughed out loud and said “You aren’t a slack ass! I’m standing here smoking a cigarette. I should know better, but then, I am a Marine!” I laughed; the whole exchange felt surreal, but it brought a smile to my face, and put a little bit of spring back in my step, for a little ways, but I was really done by that point.

I drug myself back to my truck, feeling ashamed (irrationally so), embarrassed that the parking lot had mostly emptied out, or people were standing around chatting, stretching, looking happy, flushed, and great, where I looked and felt like death could have taken me at that moment, and I would have been fine with that.

Worst of all, my total time was 2:20. I was crushed. Even though the route turned out to be closer to 12 miles than 11, I felt like my hopes of running a 2:30 half marathon (particularly on a trail, not a road race) were completely shattered.

I went home, heartsick, ashamed, and completely deflated and depressed. I didn’t even really talk to my family about how it went.

The next day, I could hardly move. I was in a lot of pain, all over and in general; I had the added misery of hormone poisoning setting in. This just made me feel that much worse about my performance and my potential to do well on race day. I stayed in my pajamas all day, watched too much t.v., ate crap for food, and moped.

And then Monday came, and with it, came a day-long fever, chills, headache, sneezing, and all the miseries associated with a nasty head cold.

Well, that helped give me some perspective on Saturday’s run. I fueled poorly throughout the run itself (I really needed to take that third energy gel), I was either more dehydrated at the start than I felt, or I was over-hydrating along the way, the aforementioned hormone poisoning ALWAYS drains me of some energy, and I had no idea at the time I was coming down with a bug.

Training-wise, this week has been a complete wash, which is sad because I was really looking forward to trying out and breaking in my brand new Brooks Adrenaline 12 GTS shoes I got last Friday. Monday, I was too sick to get out of bed. Tuesday, I stayed home from work, to worn down to do much of anything, though better than Monday. Yesterday and today have been continued recovery days, but with no extra energy to devote to even a short run.

I am planning on packing gear to run tomorrow, a short run, maybe 3 miles, maybe the fun new 2.5 mile route I ran last week. I don’t know.

Saturday is a drop back run, and we are doing 8 miles, which I am thankful for. If it was the 12 mile week, I am not sure that I would be up for that quite yet.

I desperately need a good run. One of those where you smile the whole way. Saturday’s run was so demoralizing that even with the justification that came afterwards, I still find myself wondering if maybe I didn’t bark up the wrong tree with this whole half marathon business. I know in my head that isn’t the case, but my heart is beating out a message of “You really suck at this. Why did you ever think this was a good idea???”

Screw that.

I have always been more of a Head Over Heart kind of girl anyway.

Run, Interrupted

I guess it happens to everyone eventually.

I went out for my 4 miler at lunch. Only one mile in, my stomach started cramping, and not the little warning cramping of a slight threat. It was the rumblings of real trouble. I decided to switch from the 4 mile route to the 2 mile route, because there was absolutely no sort of facility available to me once I reached the River and Belle Isle. Turning back, I had to keep taking walking breaks every 3-4 minutes to quell some of the pain and maintain something like control.

It wasn’t enough. Thank God for the Troutman Sanders Building on Brown’s Island and for Canal Café being right there. I dashed in, noted their very prominent sign that said “Restroom for Customer Use Only” and, knowing very guiltily that I had not the first penny on my person to be a paying customer, proceeded to lock myself in there for a little while. I mentally promised myself I would go have breakfast there in the morning to make up for my terrible manners.

It was a very near miss for me. I will try again tomorrow to get that 4 miler in, I suppose.

Or maybe even tonight, a short, 2 miler to Meadowdale and back, in the dark, might just be the fix I need. We’ll see.