Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Since when does 10 = 3?

I had another longest run ever this past weekend--10 miles. After the horror of my 9 mile run a couple weeks ago, I'd be lying if I said I was excited about this run. I was looking forward to it, but the memories of how painful my knees and hips were afterwards, not to mention the three-hour nausea, were there in the back of my mind asking, "are you really sure you want to do this to yourself AGAIN?"

And yes, I did. I had read a few articles during the last week about proper hydration and how important it is to not only replace the fluid lost through sweating, but also the electrolytes. I had always thought that I was covering the electrolytes by eating some Sharkies along the way, but I probably only ever ate 3 or 4 at most during the 9 miler--not quite enough to replace over an hour and a half worth of running. So, I did some shopping last Friday to stock up on my run day fuel. I have a hard time finding good sports drinks, though, because my stomach isn't such a fan of artificial sweeteners--drinking one will send me to the floor with crazy stomach cramps, which isn't something I wanted during the run. If a bottle listed "low calorie", "sugar free", or "diet" that's my immediate sign that they're not for me. I also ended up going through the ingredient lists (which I hate, I'm not that concerned with what's in my food usually) of every sports drink at Target to check that there wasn't anything ending with "-ame" or "-lose"--usually indicative of an artificial sweetner. Luckily I found one from Powerade--the ION4 (they seem really into the ION4...I couldn't get past it to their main website). Took a sip when I got home to test it out and the fruit punch was delicious!

The Madison Marathon is still about 5 weeks out, but I only have two more long runs to go (after this one), so I wanted to use Sunday's 10-mile run as a practice for the real thing, at least as far as sleep and food went. I had big plans to be responsible on Saturday when we went out for the Badger's Spring Football game and be home in time to make a good pasta dinner, relax and go to bed early. My plan completely failed when I tried to get a friend of mine drunk, even though he's got about 70 pounds on me. At least I was home early like I planned.

I set my alarm for 7am on Sunday and actually woke up feeling alright. I made a bagel with peanut butter and had some orange juice for breakfast while I plotted my route. It took me three attempts, but I finally came up with a route that met all of my requirements for the day: a) I had to be familiar with the majority of the route, b) it had to include parts of the Crazylegs race (except the awful out and back by the hospital and the Observatory Hill--no one needs to run that hill more than once a year) I'm doing on Saturday, and c) I had to finish .25 - .5 miles away from my apartment so that I would have a decent length cooldown. I was all set to leave with my Powerade in my Fuel Belt and my food--Gu and Sports Beans, both new to me. And then, I realized that Polly was dead. I needed to leave by 9:30 in order to meet a friend for a late lunch, so I charged her up for about 20 minutes and hoped that would be enough for 1.5-2 hours of running. And, I was off...

I don't remember much of the actual run, except that I really felt good the whole time. Things weren't getting too tight, so the urge to constantly check in and find out how far I had gone (and then how much was left) didn't really come until the end of the run when I wanted to find out what my pace was. I found some beautiful new areas to run through that go along yet another lake in Madison--Wingra Lake. And I did get a little lost near the end--one of my new areas had construction going on, but I feel pretty confident that I still did the full 10 miles. I kinda want to map it out just to check, so if I have time this week (ha!) maybe I'll do that.

The Sports Beans were pretty good. The after taste was a little strange, but nothing that wouldn't make me want them again. I was also trying Gu because they'll be handing it out at some of the water stops during the Madison Marathon and I figured that it'd be better to try them out before the real deal. I've had Gu once before--they handed it out with the goodie bags after a 5K that I did a few years ago. My friends and I tried it after the race and found it completely disgusting (not to mention unnecessary). But, the second try was much better. The consistency is kind of like slightly warmed canned frosting (think, like, Funfetti frosting) and the taste (I had the lemon-lime flavor) isn't terrible, but it's definitely an energy food. I did really like that I didn't need to chew it--my chewing is usually suspect under normal circumstances (I don't follow the Danny Tanner 25-chew rule) and while running, it's even more questionable. Since I could just swallow the Gu, I didn't need to worry about feeling sick because my food wasn't chewed.

By the time I got near the end of my run, I couldn't believe it. I felt like I had only run 3 miles. I had at least another mile in me, probably two or more. Sure, I was sore, but I wasn't curled up in a ball and shivering while forcing myself to eat some food (again, see here). I went home and had my usual post-workout drink, ate a Luna bar, and was so hungry for lunch (the huevos rancheros at Daisy's Cafe are awesome! and it's super cute there--if you're in Madison, I would definitely recommend it!).

I'm not sure how long the run took (major fail). I turned Polly on right away when I started my warmup, and forgot to stop her timer until 5 minutes after I got home. But, I could make a guess-timate. Door to door (plus the 5 minutes), it took me 2:04. So, subtract those 5 minutes and about 25 minutes for the warmup and cooldown, and (wait...what?) it comes out to 1:34, or an average 9:24/mile pace. That doesn't seem right. I know that near the end of my run, I was at a 9:40/mile pace (according to Polly). Maybe I really didn't run 10 miles...I'll have to check if my route change ended up shortening my run.

I made quite a few changes from my 9 mile run, so here are a few things that I think helped and made a HUGE improvement in how I felt at the end:
  • My last meal before the run was much closer to when I ran
  • Powerade (slightly watered down) instead of just water. More electrolytes and nutrition.
  • More breaks. During my 9 mile run, I stopped just twice for 45-60 seconds. This time, I stopped each time I ate a Sport Bean or had the Gu. These stops were 15-30 seconds and there were maybe two or three stops that were a minute. But even during short breaks, my legs got to recover and I actually ended up going faster and finishing stronger!
  • Drinking and eating earlier and often. In my past long runs, I've waited until after mile 3 to start drinking because I could do a 3 mile run without drinking--the difference is, during the 3 mile runs, once I hit 3 miles, I'm done and can let my body recover. This time I started drinking once I got to a half mile. To make sure I kept drinking regularly, I would take a few sips every other song. I also started eating before mile 5 (old way) since by then, my body might not have time to digest and send out the fuel.
  • More food. Okay, so I still only had maybe 5 sports beans, but I also had the Gu. I think in my other runs I was eating 2-3 Sharkies throughout the whole run. And I really could feel a difference in my body and energy level after the Gu.
Today is the THREE YEAR anniversary for my boyfriend and me. I can't believe it's already been that long. So, no run today, but a night out on the town with this wonderful guy.


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