Saturday, August 24, 2013

WORST. RUN. EVER...... so far

Did I mention the amazing marathon I did a few weeks ago? It was everything I wanted! Yippee! I was high on running and everything was rainbows and unicorns. My next long run was going to be 20 miles and I was ready to get going. Expecting a magical run I was extremely surprised by



I’ve had awful runs. We all have. But this was on a whole new level of suck-o.

There were multiple fails that made up the worst run I’ve ever had. Let me tell you about them.

1)      I didn’t respect the effort I put into the marathon I ran the week before. You see, I had the marathon built into my training as a “training run”. I would tell people “oh it’s just a training run” and I wasn’t wound up like I would be at a goal race. I upped my heart rate monitor by about 7 beats, but stayed in that range for the entire race. And even though I was tired I felt GREAT for the race. BUT, I put in quite the effort. And I had just run a 20 mile long run the Saturday before. I really should have taken the week as a cutback week, but I didn’t do that. I thought I would push through with one more big mileage week and THEN have a cutback week. The only reason I wanted to do that was because it fit into my schedule better. No thoughts as to what my ACTUAL BODY may want…. Oops.

2)      I go to a chiropractor regularly. Typically I have an appointment set up for right after a big race to straighten me out after the extra effort. But, since I had convinced myself that this was “just a training run” (see mistake #1), I was also not concerned that my next chiropractor appointment was for ten days after the marathon. My lower back was bothering me quite a bit after the race, but I figured I would wait. Turns out macho-ing through the pain didn’t do me any favors.

3)      I didn’t do the simple math of sweat pouring off your face=more electrolytes needed. Pretty self-explanatory.

 So there I was. I started off the run with high hopes that were quickly disturbed by lower back pain. Ouch, should have gotten that adjustment. I thought to myself, oh well just get through it. I also noticed that my legs were just kind of dead, but you know, maybe they should be? I do run a lot. They can’t always be fresh as a daisy.

At about mile nine the wheels started to COMPLETELY fall off the wagon. It started with a bit of a side stich. Those are fairly common for me, so I had an electrolyte pill and kept going. The slight stitch turned into full body cramps before I knew it. Awful. I can’t take a lot of electrolyte pills at once because they don’t get along well with my tummy. So, by the time I realized I was in electrolyte hell, it was a bit too late. Oops. I started taking an electrolyte pill every 10-20 minutes to try to get things under control, but the cramping was so bad I was having trouble breathing. Super fun you say? Why no, no it was not any fun at all. At this point I was just walking in the woods trying not to cry. I had never been so grateful to pick a route that had my car reasonably close to me.

I got to a park bench and sat for a minute to catch my breath and gather my thoughts. And I emailed my husband:

How do I know this run sucks? I'm not even done and I'm takings Facebook break. Cutting it Down to 15. I’m about two miles away from the car and just needed to whine. But I'm ok.

He said I was smart for cutting the run short. Here’s what I had to say in response:

Nah there was a lot of not smart going on. I'm just smart enough to call it quits before I have to call the EMTs. Done now. Thank GOD!

SOOOOOoooo…. That sucked. Sometimes a run just sucks even though you go into it thinking it will be a bucket of awesome. The trick is, trying to learn from it (see 1-3 above). I’m just grateful it was a training run. Worst run ever guarantees the best race ever, right? RIGHT?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Eagle Creek Marathon 2013... Second Time's a Charm

I try really hard to never say never again after a race.... But last year when I finished the Eagle Creek Trail Marathon I was dangerously close to saying I would NEVER run that race again. Thankfully, I did not utter those words, because I would have been a liar. I ran it again this year, and it was AWESOME!

First and most importantly, I would like to thank mother nature for making this year's attempt of the Eagle Creek Trail Marathon NOT the ball sucking sweat-fest that it was last year! Whoo HOO! 20 degrees cooler and overcast skies were magical music to my ears as race day approached! Sure, it was still 1,457% humidity... but this is Indiana, not Colorado. Accept the humidity and move on.

Other than a lovely weather break, what was different? I think that the biggest difference was.... me. How am I different now than last year? I’ve dropped some weight, I’ve changed my diet completely, I run smarter than I ever have before, and I am better trained than I was last year. Oh sure those make a big difference, but I also realized something recently…. Running is hard. Genius? No, this is not a stroke of genius. But I think that for a while I’ve been frustrated because running is hard, it hurts, sometimes it is lame, and sometimes I hate it. It turns out, those are a lot of the reasons that I do it. I run to see how far I can go and to make myself uncomfortable, or I run to see how far I CAN go before it gets TOO uncomfortable. I don’t run because it’s easy. So, when I turned my thought process in that direction… things became more interesting. Every run is a great experiment.

Back to the race….

So, this is an out and back HALF marathon. What does that mean? Well, it means that if you don’t like a section, you are painfully aware of the fact that you will be doing it 3 more times. At least, that’s how I took it last year. This year I decided to use those sections as a way to break up the course in my head. Win! Breaking up races and distances by aid stations, gel intake, or landmarks has recently helped me not be so intimidated by distances. So this frame of mind was a GOOD thing going in.

Last year there were two dead/smashed raccoons on the causeway between trail sections that helped us break up the day. This year, no raccoons…BUT there was one flat opossum on the causeway! I might have said hi to it by the third time we passed it. I don’t know, you just start doing dumb stuff the more you run….

As we were coming up on aid station three I was happy to have some more snacks and get some cold water… And out of the blue the gal I ran the race with last year pops up out of nowhere screaming her fool head off!!!! Best surprise EVER! We had no idea that she would be coming and seeing her was the best jolt of awesome a runner could have!

The freshly laid boulder sized gravel from last year had been nicely ground in for a not nearly as miserable experience! Yay! So, a section that was mostly walking last year due to the ankle twisting pain fest was a lovely runnable section where we picked up time this year!

Oh, and did I mention I had company? I was thinking that another “running is hard, duh” obstacle I would be dealing with on this race was running it alone. I’m certainly not a person that CAN’T run alone. But for this race about a week and a half before it the gal I was going to run it with decided to switch to the half. So, my head was making big adjustments as to what kind of race this was going to be without someone to take my mind off of all the….running. And then on race day, another friend (that is definitely faster than me) mentioned that she was doing the race as a training run and my pace would be a good range for her to be in. WIN! This was such a blessing. First of all because YAY COMPANY! Second, she was great company! We talked about all kinds of stuff but we are also comfortable enough that we didn’t HAVE to talk every second. Man, I’m a lucky gal.

We also had what seemed to be a normal conversation at the time:

Me: How you feeling?
Friend: I’m a little sore.
Me: Who wouldn’t be sore? We’ve been running for over twenty miles!
Friend: Oh yeah, even Batman would probably be sore. Or maybe not… he’s a superhero and all.
Me: Yeah, but he doesn’t have any REAL superpowers. He’s just rich.
Friend: But I bet he has a really good massage therapist to help him recover.
Me: Yeah, I guess that’s kind of like a superpower.
Normal conversation walking down the street? Probably not. 20+ miles into a marathon? Definitely!

Oh! Awkward moment with shirtless stranger! So I’m running down a VERY narrow single track and this runner is coming right at me (out and back course shenanigans) and I get over as much as I can but the trees and brush on either side of the trail are making this encounter potentially very awkward. In an effort to call attention to the awkwardness I shout, “I MAY HAVE TO TOUCH YOU!”, which I thought was HILARIOUS. Him? Not as much. Psh…. Lighten up folks! Isn’t this supposed to be kinda fun?

I had a blast at this race. Lots of friendly faces and some good running made for an exceptional day. Oh, and guy I don’t know that asked if I was Persistent Runner? Dude! That was the coolest thing ever. You’re awesome, and I hope you had a GREAT race!

And this race report would not be complete without mentioning that Planet Adventure (the people that put on this race) find some of the best volunteers on the planet. They also make these little salty potatoes that are a magical gift from heaven.

Will I run this race again? Well, I’ve learned my lesson, never say never!