The chronicles of 30 half marathons before my 30th birthday...
I’m back to being a delinquent running blogger, even after a kick-ass half marathon in Ft. Collins a couple weeks ago (huge personal best of 1:56:53, Crossroads Half Marathon). But, no time to blog about that AWESOME race (though it was, and I definitely want to run it again next year) — I am back with more running lessons, this one which I learned the hard one.
DO NO RACE IN 90 DEGREE HEAT.
Let me say this one more time.
DO NOT RACE IN 90 DEGREE HEAT.
And well, if you ARE going to run a race (or just run) in 90 degree heat, make sure you are UBER hydrated. I think of myself as a hydrated person… I like drinking water, I tend to drink a lot at meals and throughout the course of the day… but 90 degrees is really hot. Need I repeat it again? …Ok, you get it.
So for those who haven’t be privy to the chronicles of my running career this weekend, I will recap.
Russ and I had a bet. It didn’t really have a lot riding on it (something like the winner gets a “surprise adventure”, an idea attributed to our friends Loren & Laura), but mostly we both just wanted to win. It was for a race called the Skirt Chaser 5k, where the women get a 3 minute head start and the guys try and catch them (hence the “skirt” chaser, and the company makes really cute/comfortable running skirts). I reallllllly wanted to win. 3 minutes was a good amount of time to even things out for Russ and me… and I really wanted to win.
The race was downtown (near Mile High), at 3pm on Sat. Now, I know they didn’t plan it this way, since October 1st isn’t *normally* 90 degrees, but I heard we hit 90 downtown and broke some sort of century-plus old record. It was H-O-T. We also went berry picking beforehand, and rushed a bit to get ourselves downtown for the race. Probably didn’t drink enough water, but I don’t think I felt like I was really dehydrated.
I remember the starting line, and I remember it being really really really really hot. I started out fast, bc I was up near the front of the pack and didn’t want the elite runners to trip over me. It was really really really hot to be running. Did I mention that it was 90 degrees? I remember dumping water on my head at the aid station (foolishly didn’t drink anything), and I remember walking for 30 seconds a couple of times before mustering enough energy to run again. IT WAS SO HOT. I have a hazy memory of thinking I crossed a finish line (when in fact I had passed a speedbump on the road), stopping, having my friends yell at me to keep going, realizing I wasn’t actually at the finish line, and then bolting off to the finish. That’s the last memory I have of the race.
What I was told was that I wasn’t acting very normal at the finish line, looked a little like I was going to fall over… luckily Jennie/Jared/Elyssa/Russ were there (ok Russ was there a few minutes later - I actually beat him without the head start), and the on-site paramedics took a look at me. My next memories are of being confused hearing Russ tell them what we ate that morning, agreeing to be taken to the hospital and giving my parents phone numbers to be called. Then I was in an ambulance, still feeling woozy and not processing everything correctly, and asking the paramedics a lot of questions like “what’s the best possible outcome” and “what’s the worst possible outcome”. Apparently no one was really worried about me, they all knew I was just really dehydrated, but I didn’t know that, and I just knew I felt really weird and disoriented.
The scariest part was being asked really normal questions and not being 100% sure I knew if they were right - like: “what year is it”, and “who is our president”… both of which I answered correctly (whew), but I am not gonna lie… I had to think, and I wasn’t 100& sure I had them right at first. I knew I should know them though, which was what was so scary. In the ER they got the IV in and started giving me fluids, at which point I started feeling a MILLION times better and functioning more like normal.
Of course, I had to ask the nurse if she thought I was crazy to still want to run the NYC marathon in 5 weeks. She said I had to ask the doctor that, so they sent in a different doctor, who was a runner too and was able to talk to me about how to prevent this kind of thing. Apparently one of the biggest things I should be worrying about is electrolytes - since I don’t like the taste of gatorade / other sweet sports drinks, I need to experiment with tablets and other things that have electrolytes. And trust me, running-doctor-man, I will.
So, being crazy and competitive landed me in the ER, luckily with nothing more severe than dehydration and after many hours waiting for test results (which all returned to normal after they gave me *three liters* of fluid) they finally sent me home. It was a pretty surreal experience… you always read stories of people at marathons (especially hot ones) passing out or getting sick, but crazy ol’ me managed to do it at a 5k. Indeed.
Need I say it again? DO NOT RACE IN 90 DEGREE HEAT. EVEN FOR 3 MILES.
Also, for those of you keeping track, my time was 23:49 (7:40 min/mile pace), and Russ’s was 24:58 (8:02 min/mile pace). I looked up some stats on running in heat today and it said that in 80+ degrees you should expect your goal pace to be 20% or more higher than normal… So really, Russ’s was probably not too far off, given that he did a 5k last summer at a 7min/mile pace. Mine, on the other hand, is CRAZY.
Signing out now, crazy Sam.
While I’ve heard of people hallucinating from long runs (mostly ultra-runners), I’m talking about a different LSD: Long, slow distance. To all my half-marathon newbies who I give schedules to, I put this on there. And I have learned a great lesson in LSD the past couple weeks.
But first, I’d like to tell you my other lesson from this week about weekly mileage.
It’s become serious marathon training season, and I’ve started to realize (especially as a couple of my friends train for their very first marathon), that my weekly mileage is… well… lacking. I always get my long run in, and I try and do tempos and speedwork… but as my other trainees are putting in 25 and 30 mile weeks, I was barely hitting 20. I posted on facebook a note about hitting 30 miles for the first time (possibly ever, though it’s possible I have done it for other marathons, but definitely not regularly), and my cousin Randy was very surprised. He thinks I am impressive running marathons without running 30 mile weeks regularly (he does like 60-80 mile weeks when he’s really training. He’s also crazy and super fast. But that’s another story). I am realizing that it’s not impressive, it’s STUPID. So in an effort to not over-do it this week at least, I got in my 30 miles (ok, I was 1/2 mile short) and plan to build up better week-day mileage starting *now*.
The second part of this story involves another cousin, Liz (so happy to call her *my* cousin now!), who sent me this AWESOME spreadsheet someone from her NYC running club made that gives you different workouts and time goals for marathon training. As a self-proclaimed excel expert, this goes up to the level of excel GENIUS. Seriously. You put in your goal time for the marathon, the date of the marathon and fkldjglkdfngljfd - it computes all this awesome stuff, including telling you paces for your LSD, some races you might do while training, and other runs (tempo, speedwork, etc). So, playing with the spreadsheet I realize that my “goal” of 4:30 gives me race pace times that are significantly slower than I’ve been running (for a 5 mile and a half marathon races specifically). Playing with the numbers, when I put in a goal time of 4:10, it gave me accurate 5mile & half marathon race paces. All of the sudden, after lecturing Liz about not giving herself too aggressive of a goal (and how my marathon times were never close to the estimated “double your half marathon time +10 or 15 minutes), a lightbulb went off. MAYBE, if I put in the kind of weekly mileage one is supposed to for marathon training, a time near 4 hours would be do-able for me. Just maybe.
This is, folks, a huge epiphany for my marathon training brain.
The next, and equally big lesson (I know I know, no blog posts for weeks and then TWO big lessons in one!?) is back to the hallucinations… or lack thereof. Which is exactly my point. I don’t normally hallucinate, but I normally really really really struggle through the last couple miles of a long run - no matter what distance, mentally and physically the last couple miles feel AWFUL. Until this week. Last week I was in between running paces (some people were planning to run closer to a 9min mile and another runner was aiming for 10:30 or 11min pace) and I wisely chose to go the slow route for my 15 miler. It wasn’t an easy run (the Columbines like to pick courses with lots of hills, bleh!), and it was my first time passing half marathon distance for the year, but I was amazingly not sore that day or the next much, and was able to go out that night and have a fabulous time at friends’ engagement party (and eat all the cheese to make up for the 15 miles). So this week I knew my strategy: 10:30 pace or bust. We met at 5am (yes, it was still very dark out) to get in 8 miles before the rest of the running club came to join, and then I did another 9.5 with the group. Around 8miles in to the main run, most of the group completed their loop and left, so I had another 1.5 to go. I caught up with another couple of women and ran with them, all of the sudden realizing that I had sped up my pace! Mile 17 ended up at a 9 min mile, and at the very very end, when I really pushed it, I clocked in about an 8:40 pace for the last half a mile. THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN TO ME ON LONG RUNS. This was not my standard wishing-I-could-stop-now when I hit the 2-miles to go part. Cutting the last 1/2 mile off my original goal wasn’t because I was struggling, but only because I was worried about the time and if I was going to get where I needed to be by 9:30am.
Then another amazing thing happened… I went out that night. PAST MIDNIGHT. And WAS FINE. A little sore, yes. Not happy to walk back to the car to get a ride home when we left, yes. But totally functional, not falling asleep, and really, really impressed that a 3:45am wakeup, 17.5 miles & only a 1 hour nap didn’t take the tole on my body as I would’ve expected.
And if you didn’t guess already, I very truly believe this is all because of the LONG SLOW DISTANCE rule. It’s hard, as someone who races half marathons at close to a 9 minute pace, to not want to keep below at least a 10min mile on long runs. But it also means you can finish the run with some gas left in you, feel good all day, and recover well. Or at least, that’s what it meant for me. This is also in line with amazing-excel-marathon-training-plan that recommends (for a 4:10 finish) that I keep my long runs at 11:12 pace max. Thank you, brilliant excel document.
B. Stinson (via MeriG’s blog)
12 miles in the heat in NYC… just ask MeriG, I was pretty freaked out (I kept asking her if we could leave at 5:30am… to which she smartly responded, every time “you can, but I am not!”) On top of that all, my plane was 2 hours late so I got to Meri’s house around 12:30am and we promptly went to bed for our 5:45am wakeup call. Indeed.
Even on 5 hours of sleep (and my body thinking it was 4am), we were going running. Planning to head to lower Manhattan for a west-side-highway run, subway construction/weirdness landed us in Brooklyn - which meant I got to run the Brooklyn Bridge on my short stay in NYC this weekend! That counts as a happy accident. The west side highway was also wonderfully shaded for the most part (NYC running friends, don’t attempt to run there in the evenings… then it’s killer. Early morning the shade is glorious!), up and in to the bridal path in Central Park. A solid 12 miler, completed by 9:30am.
The real lesson though was HYDRATION. Remember that last badly ending half marathon when I felt super dehydrated at mile 10? Yup. This was the opposit. I drank lots of water on Friday. I drank a good amount before we left in the morning. I also had a new pre-run drink, http://www.generationucan.com/, which apparently Meb uses, and that’s good enough for me (ok I did read some reviews before I bought it). Their coined term is “SuperStarch” - which apparently keeps you energized for a long time. Maybe it was the placebo effect, but for 5 hours of sleep, I felt great. Thanks for the company MeriG!
I’m being a bag blogger. But, my very good friend MeriG is making up for it by being an amazingly insightful and funny blogger - seriously, she’s funny. She also gives me credit for a lot of running related advice, and makes me sound like much more of an expert than I am (although I am a bit of an expert on wicking athletic clothing, that I will take credit for). Seriously though, check out her blog - especially the one from my wedding weekend.
But back to *this* blog. I am going to start writing again. I am going to start racing again too! I had one last difficult race (that I didn’t even write about) on June 4 - the Taste of Louisville Half - which came with a tech tshirt that wasn’t even very comfortable so I just try to forget about the race. It started at 8am (first reaction: yay! second reaction, when it was too hot at 9am: ugggghhh). I wasn’t going to “race” it, so I went out slow-ish, and then felt good… and probably didn’t drink enough water and at mile 10 just couldn’t take it anymore. I walked probably a mile of the last 3… not something I have EVER done in a race. So. We will move on from this.
Russ and I are training for Georgetown to Idaho Springs now. This is my fave half marathon, because it is DOWNHILL! Everyone says they are worried about the added altitude - and I was too last year - and worried about the fact that it’s “rolling hills” - but really, honestly people, this is a great race. Seriously people, check out the elevation map - it’s downhill. For the record, this will be half marathon #14… I have some catching up to do.
And in case anyone is reading this and wants to run one of the future races with me, here’s the races I am looking at:
GTIS half - August 13th
Heart & Soul half - August 21st
Denver half - September 11th
Crossroads half - September 18th
it’s too bad they aren’t better spaced out :(
And don’t forget about the most exciting race ever! Disney Princess half - February 26, 2012 - if you want to join the crew (yes, there will be costumes!) let us know!
ALSO - marathon training officially begins after Georgetown, when rather than taking a week or two off, I get to follow it with a 15 miler the next weekend!
Paula Radcliffe (via RW quote of the day)
Thanks to the Colorado Columbines newsletter (and apparently Runnersworld.com) for a list of “You know you are a runner when” - I’ve picked out my fave’s for ya.
Samantha Dunn (via Title Nine shopping bag)
One of New Balance’s Top 10 Reasons to Run a Marathon (via RW quote of the day)
OK SO - just like last half in Moab (where I learned to test my limits), the big lesson this time was TO TRAIN. Silly, eh? But honestly, I’ve been slacking in my training and forgot that even 3 weeks apart, I still need to get a long run in between half marathons (and maybe a few more shorter runs… oops!). I didn’t, tho. Longest I ran was (maybe?) 5 miles, and I spent the better part of last week nursing sore calves and not running. Without training, you don’t improve (or in my case, even maintain!) — duh! — so even my very realistic 9min mile pace wasn’t one I could maintain for the whole race (2:04:30 ish, in case you’re keeping track).
The other big lesson I took from this weekend’s race (which was, by the way, perfect weather, no rain - only sunshine and 50s!) was to take care of my aches and pains a little more. I’ve been ignoring this nagging pain in my foot for almost a year now - it’s never awful, but once in a while it will make me limp first thing in the morning. I knew it has something to do with plantar fasciitis - even though it’s more towards my heel that hurts, it’s clearly connected to the arch and from everything I read, it’s alllll connected and that had to be my issue (which I think is actually the most common running injury there is). The lady at RunnersRoost yelled at me a little for ignoring it, and recommended I buy a Foot Rubz - a little golf ball sized ball with spikeys coming out of it to massage your foot. Stretch out that arch, she warned me. Ice! Take IBUprofin! Don’t let it get worse!
ok ok ok! I’ve been avoiding doing anything bc (like a lot of runners who just want to keep on running) it’s never *that bad*. It’s never kept me from running, and it’s only moderately painful/uncomfortable. But I should probably see if some home remedies will help it… foot massage, icing (which was HUGELY painful, I guess my feet are sensitive), stretching more, etc.
I am also considering getting checked out at a foot doctor, but my fear is they will just tell me to stop running… so I refuse to go unless I know they are a runner themselves. Isn’t that the biggest runners’ fear? to have someone tell you that you can’t/shouldn’t run anymore??!?
Please let it not rain on us….
Saturday broke the record high by something like 6 degrees. My big mistake was thinking that a mid-day run was going to be easy. For the record, 2 loops in wash park is not a 10 mile run…
So the lesson learned (isn’t there always a lesson when you’re training?) is that I need to be aware of the weather once again —- winter training, while sometimes annoying, is usually easy enough because you can always wear more layers and stay warm (as long as it’s not wayyy below freezing - I think 15-20 degrees is my lower limit). But spring and summer is harder, because my ideal running temp is about 55 degrees… and that often means early morning running to avoid the heat.
While I LOVE the lack of humidity in Denver (it makes summer running a lot less sweaty and gross - and makes it easier to stay hydrated also), I definitely need to transition to my summer running mentality — and remind myself that there’s a reason to get up and meet running club at 7:30am on a Saturday morning…..
Derek Clayton in The Masters of the Marathon (via RW quote of the day)