Tuesday, July 26, 2011


So after my sweltering, semi-painful ten mile run, I had a lot of angst building up regarding my next task: 12 miles. Considering the fact that 8 miles into my 10 miler I wanted to quit and hail a cab, you can understand why 12 loomed over me.

But, when faced with a challenge, I've always been one to step up to the plate. So I made an action plan. 12 miles... I needed to optomize myself. So I made sure to get my weekly runs done by Thursday and to rest on Friday. I got all my things set up and ready for an early morning run, and was sure to hit the sack at a very reasonable time so I could rest up. As a little pre-bedtime reading, I dove into my book about running a marathon and did a little learning about nutrition for long distance runners (post to follow). So it appeared I had flubbed the "night before carb load," but the book recommended eating some complex carbs in the AM before I took to the road. So I started my day off with a banana and a granola bar, and took off.

During my 10 miler, I just felt like I was running out of steam. I think the heat had a lot to do with it, but I think there was more to it. I only rehydrated with water, and that was probably a mistake. I needed some sort of glucose to keep me going. So, I dabbled in energy gels this week. I tried the Cliff Energy Shots, and about halfway through my 12 miler I took down a citrus flavored paste that boosted my energy and kept me going. I was suprised what a difference it made.

So I ate well, ran early, had my nerdy running pack and rehydrated adequately, used my energy shots, and had protein when I got back. And ya know what? 12 miles was a piece of cake. I was tired at the end, but no where near what I felt like the week before. And I shaved more tah 45 seconds off my mile in comparison to the week prior. This, my friends, is what we call PROGRESS.

At the end of the day when I look at my nerdy little spreadsheet, I can't believe how far I've come. Today, for shits and giggles, I decided to add up the distance I've run since starting this gig at the end of May. I have already run over 170 miles, and still have two months of significant training to go. My times are better, I feel better, and I'm suprising myself on a weekly basis with what I can accomplish. I'm going to use this to fuel me forward - this weekend brings 14 miles and my biggest challenge yet.

Here I go!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Double Digit Doubt

A few weeks ago, my training schedule had me running 9 miles (you know, when my dog chased me). That was, at that time, the farthest I had run to date. 9 miles is quite a distance! Truth be told, I actually ran just over 9 miles. And despite the extra excitement and the challenge of a hot day, I actually kept a pretty decent time.

So logically, if I already knew I could run 9+ miles, what's the big deal about adding on a few extra minutes? Not even a full mile more would get me to the next goal. So why does a double-digit mileage scare me so much? It's like I have a mental road block that 9's okay, but 10 is impossible.

All week, I brooded over this. I knew that come Sunday, I was going to have to put my big girl running shoes on and prove my fears wrong. I knew it was going to be a scortcher this weekend, so I figured I should get up early and get running to beat the heat. I was dissapointed, as my nerdy new water bottle thingy didn't arrive yet. So I grabbed myself a liter of "electrolyte water" from good ol' Trader Joe's and I took to the pavement. I started running at about 8am, and in retrospect, I should have been finishing at that time. It was warm when I began, and it only got hotter as the day progressed.

I had planned my run from my place, down the Lakefront Path to Buckingham Fountain, which is exactly 5 miles, then back again. Seemed like a great idea, as it's a pretty stretch. Again, in retrospect, my run likely should have gone north on the path, where there's some shade, as opposed to south along the beaches and full-on direct sunlight.

As you can imagine, I pretty much melted out there. On my run, I drank >1.5L of water, and drank far more when I got home. Despite all my fears, I was able to complete ten miles, but I have to be honest - it was HARD. I really do think that a large challenge for the day was the heat. It was pushing 90 when I finished. Now I've done runs in the heat before, but usually they're short jaunts under 5 miles, not a double-digit run. I was just totally wiped at the end. And the idea that the marathon would be more than double the length I ran yesterday... well, it made me doubt if I can do this.

But, the marathon is 82 days away. And that's 82 days of preparation and training... and 82 days for the weather to cool off a bit. I think I just need to be confident and keep working hard. Can't forget that the adrenaline of the day will also help fuel me. So, I'm keeping my chin up and charging on. I'm also learning from my experiences. My long runs will likely be taking place in the early morning hours for the rest of the summer. I'll be sure to drink plenty the day/night before and get good rest. And I will continue to take my prophylactic ibuprofen (b/c let me tell you, for running as much as I did yesterday, I'm not that sore!)

Next week, 12 miles. Yikes!

Oh, and a big congratulations to my brother and sister-in-law for completing their 5K yesterday! Very proud!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Calculating my Free Water Defecit

Alright, so it's a nerdy title... but I'm a nerd. What do you want from me?

So I haven't geeked out so much that I've actually calculated my free water defecit, but as the days have gotten warmer I've certianly been thinking a lot about hydration. Running an hour or more a day 4 days a week gives you a lot of time to yourself to do some quality thinking. It's also helping me maintain a nice tan :)

I've never been a huge hydrater - not as I run, not at the gym, not while I play sports. I always drink enough to keep me going, but I know that I've never been great at staying really on top of repleting my losses. I think that after a long day in the sun or playing sports, I often spend the following hours catching up on my volume status. This isn't an outstanding habbit, but I seem to walk the line where I hydrate just enough, and it's never caused me any trouble before.

Well I'm training to complete what will be my largest physical challenge in my life to date, and I'm quite positive that this flimsy hydration plan is not going to cut it. Of course, it's not just as simple as drinking a boatload of water, either. You can just ask any runner who's ever been brought to an ED confused or seizing because their sodium is too low from taking in excess free water. So much to consider!

My "weekday short runs" are now usually 4-5 miles each, and in cool weather I could easily run that without ever taking a sip of water from a fountain I pass, let alone carry a water bottle. But as the weather has heated up and I've hit some sort of weight threshold where I sweat like mad when I exercise, I find myself getting behind FAST. I can be two miles in and my mouth is dry and I'm thirsty. Well... that just won't do.

As I approach the big day, I'm working to develop a solid hydration plan, and I intent on "practicing" it on my weekend long runs. I want it to be second nature when the time comes. It's important to drink some sort of electrolyte replacement in adition to plenty of water, and I need to figure out where a good balance is for me. In addition, I need to think about starting to fiddle around with "Gu" or some other energy/caloric supplement for race day, now that my mileage is getting up into the double digits.

So I've hit a whole new level of "runner." First and foremost, I can't believe the money I've been willing to put into my new hobby. Sizable for sure. So my newest investment is for a running water bottle belt. I always laughed at people who were wearing these on the trail, but I get it now. The one I chose only has 2 10oz bottles - I'm wondering if I should have gotten the 4 bottle, but we'll see how it goes. The belt, of course, has a nerdy, handy-dandy fanny pack to stick my Gu and my keys in. Now I'm getting serious.

I'm gonna work on this whole hydration thing... I'll keep you posted on how it goes. (Posted, get it? Blog post? No? Fiiiiiiiine.)