Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Running: Doctor Says No; I Say Yes

Yesday I went to the doctor.  The majority of the remaining part of the day was spent crying.  Right now there are so many unknowns in regard to my health.  I was told not to run because that will make things worse.  However, I know my body and how it feels.  No doctor can feel what I am feeling.  I have not run since Friday and feel like I am going crazy.  Not knowing what will happen, I am not going to run today or tomorrow.  Depending on how I feel, I might lace up the running shoes on Thursday.  Sometimes my own sanity is more important than what a doctor says.  Even if my body is failing, my mind still needs to be healthy, which is what running does for me.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fueling for a Run: Artificial vs. Real Food

I recently read an article posted online by a dietician that was encouraging athletes to get their energy from natural sources rather than pre-packaged ones.  As I read through the article, it seemed very impractical.  After each recommendation, I wanted to ask, "Do you know someone who does this?!?"  because I sure don't.  The highlights included:

Recommendation: Using honey straws instead of GU or gels
My Opinion:  I actually compared the nutritional value of honey vs. GU Roctane (the kind I use).  Both have roughly the same amount of calories, however, Roctane has more sodium.  I like knowing that I am getting sodium when I have Roctane because sodium prevents cramping.  Cramping is not fun, and makes people run slower.  Also, Gus are easy to run with, as many running shorts have special pockets specifically for them.  However, carrying honey straws?  I would be worrying about them leaking on me during a race, that is if I found somewhere to keep them.  There is no question here - I'm for GU 100%.

Recommendation: Using dried fruit, animal crackers, pretzels, fig newtons, bananas, apples or oranges instead of chomps
 My Opinion: I don't use chomps, but I occasionally eat ShotBloks while running.  Once again, I think it would be incredibly difficult to carry any of the items mentioned above with me while running.  I don't wear a SPIbelt or anything like it but even if I did I don't think those items would fit in it.  I can say that I've been hungry on a run before and thought about what I wanted to eat when I was done, or what sounded good right them.  The items above, all of which I eat, have never crossed by mind on a run.  Once again, I'm 100% in favor or using chomps.

Recommendation: Peanut butter and jelly or peanut buter and honey sandwiches, oatmeal cookies, Larabars, or trail mix instead of bars.
My Opinion: I eat some type of bar almost every day before I workout, or in between the gym and driving to the path where I run.  They are convenient, give me the every I need, don't make my stomach hurt, and come in a variety of flavors.  My favorites are Luna and Clif.  I really don't know why a person would eat oatmeal cookies before running.  I know trail mix does not work for me - nuts before running don't sit well in my stomach.  Larabars are bars, so I don't know why they were put there.  I don't really like Larabars because I find the consistency gross.  Once again, I'll take my go-to bars that taste good and are convenient.

Recommendation: 100% fruit juice diluted with water and a pinch of salt instead of sports drink
My Opinion: Why?  Pretty much if you follow the recommendation you are making a homemade sports drink.  I guess if you didn't like any of the flavors then it would be beneficial, but I'll stick to my Cool Blue Gatorade after each run.

Recommendation: Low fat chocolate milk instead of protein shakes.
My Opinion: For once, this is the first recommendation that I know people actually follow.  Many of my running friends refuel after their long runs with chocolate milk.  I, however, don't like milk so I never do that.  I also don't like protein shakes, so both things don't work for me.

I found the majority of these recommendations to be not realistic unless you would like to wear a fanny pack while running.  Personally, I'll stick with my artificial food, save myself time, and have better runs.

What is the oddest recommendation you've heard?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ragnar Relay 2012 Race Recap

Going into Ragnar, I wasn't quite sure what to think.  I've never done an ultra event of any kind before, and I was nervous about my body.  How would it handle running 32.5 miles in a day or so?  I knew what Ragnar was like from my other 3 experiences on 12 person teams, but this one was going to be different.  And different it was.

I was in full sleep taper mode for Ragnar, getting 5 hours and 4 hours the nights before the race.  We finished school on Thursday, while the race started on Friday.  We met at the ungodly early hour of 5 AM at a teammates house, about 30 minutes away from my place.  That means I got up at 4 AM Friday morning.  We drove to Madison for our 10 AM start time, knowing it was going to be a lot of fun and challenging at the same time.

My team was "Girls Just Wanna Ultra Run"
This was the front of our team shirt.
Our team decided that we would each run 6 (shorter) legs for the race.  I am very happy we made that decision.  With the heat, it would have been much harder to run back-to-back runs.  I was lucky runner #5.

Run #1  (Leg 5) - 6.3 miles in Cambridge, Wisconsin - 7:37 pace 
Time started: 12:56 PM on Friday
My goal was to run all of my legs around a 9:00/mile pace, my typical long run pace.  However, I knew when we started, my first leg would be faster because I was excited.  This leg was mostly in the country and pretty boring.  When I finished, I realized just how fast I ran and knew that I was going to need to slow down if I wanted to make it through all 6 legs.
The back of our Ragnar team shirt

Run #2 (Leg 11) - 5.8 miles in Dousmann, Wisconsin - 7:39 pace
Time started: 7:17 PM on Friday
I loved this run because it was entirely on the Glacial Drumlin trail.  I got the bracelet on the trail and ran for 5.8 miles.  The trees were nice to look at it was quiet.  It reminded me of the path I typically run on in Chicago.

Run #3 (Leg 17) - 3.9 miles in Greenfield, Wisconsin - 7:17 pace
Time started: 11:46 PM on Friday
My frist nighttime run made me nervous.  I has to run through a dark part for about half a mile before getting on to streets in the town.  Knowing that it was going to be dark, and I don't like running in the dark, I told my teammates that I was going to run this leg fast.  So fast, in fact, that my first leg was 7:03...a little too fast.  My teammates told me when I was done running that when they drove by, I looked like a cartoon because my legs were going so fast.  I'm not sure about that, but I knew I wanted to be done.

Run #4 (Leg 23) - 7.1 miles in Racine, Wisconsin - 7:44 pace
Time started: 3:48 AM on Saturday

Fatigue was setting in at this point.  I started to think about how my previous run might not have been a good idea.  This run actually ended up being my favorite of the race.  It was quiet and peaceful and light near the end.  There were some awesome houses to look at, too.  When the van drove by me at mile 4, I flagged them down.  I went low on this run and wanted some Gatorade.  After a brief chat with them, I felt better and continued my run.  GU just didn't sound good at 4 AM.

Run #5 (Leg 29) - 4.9 miles in Waukegan, Illinois - 8:04 pace
Time started: 9:34 AM on Saturday
This run was pretty boring.  The majority of it was on a bike path that was not shaded.  To please my teammates, I took a bottle of water with me when I started the run, even though I really didn't want to.  I ended up drinking every last drop in it.  My legs were tired.  My mind was tired.  I wanted to be done, but knew I had one more run to get through.

Run #6 (Leg 35) - 4.9 miles in Evanston, Illinois - 7:58 pace
Time started: 2:22 PM on Saturday
I was so happy to be starting my final leg.  I was tired in every sense of the word.  At this point in the relay, there was another female ultra team near us.  My goal was to pass the girl from their team, along with the chubby shirtless man wearing the fuel belt.  I succeeded at both of those tasks.  When I finished, I was so relieved to be done.

Final Thoughts:
My legs surprised me.  I went into the race feeling rather out of shape, but somehow ran a sub 8:00 pace for all of my miles.  I can also say that being on a 12 person team is incredibly different than being on a 6 person team.  I had a lot of fun and it is a good experience.

Place: 2/6
Time: 30 hours, 23 minutes
Overall team pace: 9:12/mile
Team kills:  194
My kills: 60
Times I was killed: 0

*That is right, I was undefeated!  60-0 for the kills

Memories Made: too many to count
Regrets: none

Monday, June 11, 2012

What I've Been Up To

It seems like forever since I've posted anything on my blog, but really its only been 2 weeks.  Time goes too quickly.

Since the beginning of June, a few things have happened.

  1. I ran a 5k and had a personal worst.  That is right, it was the slowest 5k that I've ever run.  I ran faster after not running because of a stress fracture than I ran in this race.  It didn't help that I went into it with lofty goals, didn't know the course, and had a week of 100% fast miles.  My poor time was due to a few things: having to run on small boulders for 0.75 mile of the course, a massively steep incline at mile 2.5, an incline (but smaller) from 2.5 to the finish, and a course that measured 3.25 miles long on my Garmin.  But that is not all.  There was an 8k race that started before the 5k.  The 5k, scheduled to start 10 minutes after the 8k, got delayed because "there are some serious runners in the 8k race that are concerned about their times."  When I heard this, I thought great, I get to run around the slower runners for the first mile or so.  And that is exactly what happened.  But here's the good thing.  As sucky as that race was, it didn't affect me too much.  Awful races make the good ones that much more sweet.  Plus, 5ks are plentiful.  I can run as many as I want.
  2. School is out for the summer.   I could not be happier!  I was exhausted by the end of the school year and am in dire need of some time away from 10 and 11 year-olds.  I'll be tutoring some this summer and working a lot of some school things.
  3. I ran the Madison to Chicago Ragnar Relay on an ultra team (6 people) this past weekend.  I'll be doing another post specifically related to it soon.  We got 2nd place for female ultra teams.  I had 60 "kills".  Needless to say, it was 30 hours of fantastic running for me.