Ways to Destroy Your Body Without Even Running

I ran about 4 miles this past weekend (21.7 miles for the week, mostly on a treadmill) but my muscles are more stiff and achy than they have been in a long time. This is due to the following three things:

  1. Rocking out super hard at the Iron Maiden concert on Friday.
    My husband, my friend, and I went to the Iron Maiden/Ghost concert at the Xcel Energy Center last Friday. We were in the seats rather than on the floor, which was good and bad (I got a little anxious just looking at the sea of humanity packed down there), but there was still enough energy and excitement in the building that we were out of our seats headbanging and jumping around. My calves got a heckofa workout and my neck wasn’t in great shape the next day. After the concert, we spent a lot of time standing around and talking to other friends, then had a long-ish walk back to the car, and then went to Mickey’s Diner (not the streetcar one) for some late night grub. We didn’t get back to my friend’s house til after 1:00 and I didn’t get to sleep til probably 3, thanks to adrenaline and ringing in my ears.
  2. Kneeboarding on Saturday.
    After returning to Duluth, we headed out to Pike Lake to hang out with my family. My sister in law and her dad ran Grandma’s (as did many of my friends – I was having FOMO about missing the race – but only missing spectating, not missing running. Too many people running, too hot.) and both had great races, despite the heat. Of course, it cooled off in the late afternoon, too late for the marathoners. This did not stop my brother, my husband, and me from kneeboarding, though. It was a bit cold but not bad. However, my shoulders, upper back, and triceps weren’t thrilled. I look forward to getting a full range of motion back. Also the swim ladder collapsed onto my hand (my own stupid fault), so my palm has a bruise.
  3. Moving on Sunday.
    This was actually the least strenuous activity. My grandparents are moving back to Duluth this coming Saturday, so my dad, stepmother, and I moved in some furniture for them to get their place ready. We didn’t move anything big or super heavy, just some mattresses, chairs, and a few other things.

Looking at my weekend from this perspective, I think I still got some decent physical activity in, despite the dearth of running. I wouldn’t quite call it cross-training, but it was better than nothing.

The Time Off That Wasn’t

*Hmmm, perhaps I should have added a title the first time around. Fixed*

I’d been really looking forward to taking time off running and then easing back into it, but it’s not working out the way I thought.

The main reason for this is I am incredibly stressed about the FE exam. I don’t feel prepared, and I’m running out of time. Rescheduling is not an option, both because I don’t want to pay their stupid fee to reschedule, and also because the format of the test changes starting in July. (It’s currently straight up multiple choice, but with the next testing window, they will have other options like fill in the blank or something, which in my opinion makes the test significantly harder. I guess I’ll find out if I don’t pass this time around!) It’s my own fault for 1. putting the test off so long that I’ve forgotten a lot of the stuff I learned in class and 2. putting off studying until — well, not the last minute, but it is starting to feel that way.

I’m studying for hours every night, and I feel guilty about running. That’s an hour I’m not studying. I tell myself there’s no guarantee that I will actually spend that extra hour studying, that I might end up farting around online or one of my other patented avoidance techniques. At least running is something productive, and gets out some of my nervous energy. Sort of.

My new treadmill was delivered on Tuesday. I opted for a slightly better model than I previously had (so, instead of the cheapest, I got the second cheapest). It’s quieter, the design is a bit more streamlined, and it has a small fan built in. It also has a decline option, so I can run at a 1% or 2% downhill grade in addition to up to a 10% incline. I wasn’t too sure about how that would feel, but I gave it a shot on Tuesday and it didn’t feel like I was going to fall through the front of the treadmill.

While the treadmill isn’t my favorite choice for a workout, it comes in handy because I don’t waste any excess time driving to a trail, or getting stuck at stoplights. It worked out well yesterday also because we had San Francisco levels of fog for most of the day.

In addition to the anxiety over my test, I’m missing that feeling of accomplishment that comes from running for 2 hours on a weekday after a full day of work. These short runs don’t provide that sense of smug self-satisfaction I get from these medium length weekday runs. I’m not running on trails, either, which I miss, and which I need to get out on, since I’ve got that trail marathon coming up.

I only have *gulp* 8 more days of this before I can get back to higher mileage weeks. I’m looking forward to longer runs (especially now that it is mostly nice out and the sunset is sooooo late), but I’m also terrified about this stupid test and wouldn’t mind an extra 8 days to study. I’m running the Midnight Sun Midnight Run 5K the night after my test, so it’ll either be a triumphant run or a dejected run, depending on my perception of this exam (I don’t get immediate results).

Doldrums

In the past 12 days, the only running I’ve done was on race day. I planned it this way for the most part (although I was hoping to do some walking last week to stay active, and didn’t), but I also expected a different outcome from the race, so now I’m re-thinking my plans. I will probably give myself this coming weekend off, and then start running some short miles the next couple weeks. This makes sense, based on all the things I’ve had to consider.

  • My left foot is mostly back to normal, but while the blister on my right heel (the one that never healed fully from CM50K) doesn’t hurt, it also needs to grow back skin of the proper thickness and texture.
  • The chafing on my legs is mostly healed, although I wore a skirt to work yesterday and noticed a bit of irritation.
  • I’m sleeping like garbage, thanks to early sunlight, constantly hungry cats, a snoring spouse, and Born to Run (the Springsteen memoir, not the running book).
  • Most of the rest of my body healed really quickly after FANS, I suppose since there weren’t any huge climbs and I wasn’t going very fast, but I did develop a knot in my back that turned rather painful. Deep breaths still hurt. (I had scheduled a massage, but there was a mix-up with the scheduling, so I didn’t get one.)
  • I’m taking the Fundamentals of Engineering exam on June 23rd, and I need to study every night. I don’t have time for long runs, I don’t have time to procrastinate starting my runs – I have to allot all my procrastination time to avoiding studying. This is the absolute top priority in my life for the next 2 weeks. And let’s hope it’s over after that! Yikes.
  • I signed up for 2 short races between now and Curnow on July 15th. I signed up for Midnight Sun Midnight Run 5K on June 23rd (a good way to run off all the stress of the test that same day), which was planned. This will be my 3rd year running this race, it’s always fun! I also signed up for the Park Point 5 Miler on July 13th. So yes, 2 days before Curnow. I ran this 2 years ago and had my first disappointing race. A dubious milestone, I know. I didn’t run it last year because I was supposed to run Curnow, which of course I didn’t do. This year, I’m going to run it and see if I can get some of those race week jitters out of my system.

So, that’s a lot of thinking about something fairly insignificant – in other words, the same approach I take to all things running. I’m looking forward to getting back out there, especially now that the weather is better!

Race Report: FANS 24 Hour Race

Official Results:
Distance: 29.5 mi
Placing:
Overall: 116/147
24 Hrs: 77/84
Gender: 18/19

Watch Results:
Time: 10:24:37 (This includes about 25 minutes of time between when I finished my last lap and when I finally stopped my watch)
Pace: 19:57
Distance: 31.3
Heart Rate: N/A

Goals:
A: 100 mi
B: 90 mi
C: 75 mi

Food:
What I ate the night before: sesame chicken with brown rice, chicken satay skewers
What I ate on race morning: bagel, Clif bar
What I carried with me: n/a

Gear:
What I wore: to start – tank top, shorts, trucker hat; later changed to t-shirt, shorts, trucker hat
Gadgets: GPS watch, fitness tracker

Discussion: There’s nothing like “failure” to make me want to try again.

Also it’s really funny that 9 months ago, I’d never even run a marathon, and now I’m looking at 29.5 miles as failure. Once that thought popped into my head yesterday, I started to feel ok with the results.

I have a long history of quitting when it comes to running. I walked the mile runs in gym class because I didn’t want to put in the effort. I ended up in the duty van in college during ROTC physical training runs far too often, because I would rather quit than be so much slower than everyone else. I DNSd 2 races last year because I didn’t get enough sleep the night before. So in some ways it’s not surprising that I quit this race so early on.

My husband and I drove down to the Twin Cities on Friday afternoon, picked up my packet, and then went to my dad’s to transfer all my supplies to his truck. The plan was: I stay at my dad’s Friday night, he takes me to the race, we set up, he crews me til late afternoon; my husband stays at our hotel Friday night so he can sleep as late as possible, he arrives at the race in the late afternoon to crew me til the next morning. That part worked out pretty well, although I slept really poorly. I must have gotten an hour or two of sleep at some point, but nothing really restorative.

It was 75F at 6:30 a.m., so that was not the best omen. It took about half an hour to drive to the race start, which was really easy to find and had plenty of parking. We unloaded some of the gear, set up the tent, and then I ate a bit before heading over to the start. I should have made sure we unloaded the chairs, so that I could have sat down for a bit before the race started. Not that it really mattered in the end, but still, I was standing and moving around for an hour before the race started. I didn’t warm up, but I wasn’t planning on it.

The race started right on time, and we did a shorter out and back on the path before turning around and starting our first full loop. The trail loops around Snelling Lake and has significant sections of shade, though it also had stretches of full sun. The shaded sections were actually bearable, but when the sun blazed down on me, it sapped away my energy. By noon, the temperature had reached 90F. I know that’s nothing compared to the heat from, say, Western States or Badwater or Marathon des Sables, but I have had zero heat training.

I ran almost all of the first “long” loop (the out & back + the full loop), stopping to walk for 5 minutes so I could finish my Clif bar. I did a few intervals of Run 30/Walk 5, then went to Run 10/Walk 5, and then deteriorated into Walk Slowly/Run Occasionally. The loops all kind of blend together to me, so a traditional recap isn’t going to make a lot of sense.

During (I think?) my 9th loop, I was walking along and heard some cracking noises. I thought it was squirrels or just trees moving in the breeze. Nope. A tree came crashing down about 20 feet behind me, and maybe 15 feet behind a runner coming up to pass me. We looked at each other in shock, then I high-fived him, because what else do you do to celebrate a near miss like that?

The heat was really frustrating to me. I’m so envious of the folks who were still able to run in the heat, and who didn’t seem to have even a touch of sunburn. I was reapplying sunscreen every 1.5-2 hours, and I STILL got sunburned (though not too badly). All I could think about was making it until the sun went down. If I could just hang on, and keep moving forward at whatever slow pace I could comfortably manage, I could rally in the evening.

My friends showed up around the 6 hour mark, and one of them did loops 10-12 with me. My feet were starting to hurt, so I’d changed into my trail shoes to relieve some of the pain from the gravel. The extra support and the rock plate helped a bit, but the bases of both my heels were really hurting. After loop 10, I took my socks off to see what was up. On my left foot was a blister stretching across most of the circumference of my heel. On my right foot was a blister that had formed on top of the remnants of an old blister (from Chippewa Moraine, I think!), about the size of a walnut, puffing out about half an inch. So, no wonder. I lanced them as best as I could, bandaged them up, and started moving again. It didn’t feel amazing but it felt a little better.

I managed 2 more slow laps, talking with my friend, gimping along, and then sat down to rest again and talk with them. They decided to leave, and just as I was gearing up to leave again, my dad told me my stepbrother and sister in law and my 2 nephews were at the park getting their permit. I didn’t think they were coming since it was so hot and my younger nephew had been sick. I decided to stay until they arrived, and then talked to them for a little while, ate some of the snacks they brought me, and then headed out for what I didn’t know would be my final lap, lucky #13. The blister on the right hurt a lot, and I ended up changing my gait to try to accommodate it, which was bad news. I planned to try to tape it up better with some moleskin, and I did, but when I got up to test it out, the chafing on my inner thighs/near my shorts liner really started to sting and burn, despite changing my shorts, cleaning the salt away with wet wipes, and slathering the area with Vaniply and Vaseline.

So I quit. I chose to take the easy way out. Neither the chafing nor the blisters were the worst anyone has seen in the history of chafing and blisters, but I didn’t see any reason to continue and to make them worse. (It’s 2 days later and I’m wearing flip-flops at work, so I’m glad I didn’t in that regard.) I had sort of stopped caring about the race, and there wasn’t much to look forward to, just endless loops. I didn’t want to trudge around in a circle with a stinging crotch for 14 more hours. That was really not going to give me any guidance as to my readiness for a longer race.

It’s funny that in the end, it didn’t even matter that I was undertrained. I was plenty well trained for 29.5 miles! And while the heat really concerned me, I think I managed my hydration well (I only lost a pound at the first weigh-in, and had the same weight at the second weigh-in, probably because I wasn’t running hard), I didn’t have much nausea, and I still had the sense that I could pick it up once the sun went down.

I’m chalking this race up to a learning experience, even if it wasn’t the learning experience I was looking for. There were still a LOT of lessons for me.

  1. Having a crew makes me uncomfortable.
    My dad was so kind and gracious to sit out there in the heat for 10 hours, fill my water bottles, monitor my food, and support me. He kept offering to do other things, like spray me with sunscreen, but it just made me feel more guilty and uncomfortable. I am so used to doing everything for myself, since I usually go to races alone. I spent extra time at my tent because I felt bad that he was by himself. He did enjoy the people-watching; I think he was getting too many ideas from one of the other crews nearby – there were like 7 people crewing one guy and they were like a NASCAR pit crew! No thank you. I think if I do a long race, I won’t enlist a crew until the later stages, when I need extra gear or to get resupplied or something.
  2. Visitors are too much of a distraction.
    It was awesome to have my friends and family visit. But it kept me at the campsite longer than I should have. It was also sort of demoralizing that when I was running with my friend, he was walking. So I walked, too, when maybe I could have run here and there. And I talked, which slowed me down, too. It would have been better if we were both entrants in the race and could meet up, part ways, meet up, and so on.
  3. I brought too much stuff.
    I should have just relied on aid stations. I didn’t need like 75% of the stuff I brought, and again, it kept me in the campsite longer than I needed to be.
  4. Running a marathon doesn’t destroy me physically anymore.
    I’m not walking around much, but that’s mostly due to the blisters, since even without shoes on, they hurt. I have some general soreness in my back and my hips, but that’s it. Granted, I took several long breaks, but I still traveled 29.5 miles.
  5. I’m the slowest walker ever.
    I’m short, and I’m long-waisted. So my legs are not really built for fast walking. But it was hard to be out there, seeing people putting in a similar effort but passing me with ease, or even seeing people struggling and being unable to catch up with them.
  6. Summer is not the time to try new distances.
    I don’t do well in the heat, so I think it’s best left to the spring and fall when I’m trying something new, at least as long as I’m living in Duluth.
  7. I don’t really like timed race formats.
    I like point to point races. I like running a set distance, rather than a set amount of time. I just couldn’t shift my paradigms enough. I really should do more “run for x number of hours” training runs, to try to get into that mindset better.
  8. I will totally do this race again.
    Maybe just one more time, for “revenge.” It was such a cool atmosphere, though! I mean, I got an email from the race director yesterday with the subject line “Well, THAT Happened!” These are my people. The race rules packet was littered with funny, snarky comments. The whole attitude is so relaxed – it’s not full of aggressive, hyper-competitive runners, it’s full of people doing their own thing, whether that’s winning, taking it easy, or doing all their laps in the opposite direction. And the volunteers were so great! Especially the lap counters. My lap counter (a guy for the first 6 hours and a woman for the last 4) were SO cheerful every time I came through, calling out my name and telling me great job. This is a real benefit of a looped course: getting to know the volunteers and making a connection. So many more times to thank them, too.

Now I don’t know what to do with myself. I’m getting a massage tomorrow, and then I’m not running for awhile. At first I said two weeks, but now that I didn’t really go above and beyond in distance, I might amend that. HOWEVER, no running until my feet heal completely. Curnow is in 6 weeks, so I do need to be mindful of that and at least put in a bit of training. Maybe I’ll have a really great performance there, since I didn’t beat myself into the ground this past weekend!

FANS 24HR Race Goals

Tomorrow I’ll be running in circles for 24 hours. I’m in denial, as usual.

noidea

I have no clue what this will be like. I haven’t run longer than 50km or 10 hours. It might be hot. It might be cold. It might storm. It might be sunny. It might be all of these things, and more.

My goals are:
A Standard: 100 mi
B Standard: 90 mi
C Standard: 75 mi

I don’t know how achievable any of these are. I suppose it depends on conditions, my health, and my mental capacity.

Less quantifiable goals:
1. Relentless forward progress. No long breaks. No sleeping in the tent. No quitting early.
2. Avoid sunburn and manage heat.
3. Eat and drink well. Keep my GI system healthy.
4. Finish happy, healthy, and with my relationships with my husband and my dad intact.
5. Gain a better understanding of what else I need to do to be prepared to run a 100 mile race next year.

If I do those three things, I should be able to achieve any of the distance standards I’ve planned out.

I’ve overpacked, overplanned, and undertrained for this race. Sounds like a typical situation for me.

Summer Running Goals: 2017

Gotta get these done before the weekend. “Summer” running goals are things I want to accomplish between June and August.

  1. Reach a personal best in distance.
    Bring it on, FANS. I’m hoping to see huge increase over 50km this weekend.
  2. PR at the marathon distance.
    My current marathon PR is 8:23:29, set last year at the Moose Mountain Marathon. While I expect to set an unofficial PR this coming weekend at FANS (and set an unofficial PR at CM50K of some unknown time under 8 hours), I’m looking to set an official PR at the Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon in July. Since I DNSd that race last year, just getting to the finish line is a small victory.
  3. Run from home to my dad’s place on Pike Lake.
    It’ll be a fun adventure. I just have to plan a route that keeps me off the highway.
  4. Run from Gooseberry Falls to Split Rock Lighthouse.
    This one is a holdover from last year. It seems like a good idea for a long run (an out and back is the most likely way I’ll achieve this, due to my lone wolf nature).

As for my spring running goals, let’s evaluate.

  1. Race a distance I have not raced before.
    I raced the Hot Dash 10 Mile in March and loved it!
  2. Run a race where I’m not sure I can make the cutoff.
    I raced the Chippewa Moraine 50K in April and finished 2:31 before the cutoff, after missing the intermediate cutoff but being allowed to continue.
  3. PR at the 50K distance.
    I dropped my PR from 10:25:37 to 8:57:29! Granted, CM50K was an easier course than Wild Duluth, but I’m taking some of that credit for myself.
  4. Help my team for Be The Match 5K raise $2000.
    I really flopped on this front. My mom and I raised over $1100 (probably more like $1200 as we had a couple make general donations), which is neither a fundraising PR nor anywhere near my stretch goal. Yuck.
  5. Improve my time at Superior 25K.
    I ran 45 minutes better than last year. Check check.

FANS 24 HR Training: Weeks 15 and 16

Lower mileage than I’d like, but I suppose I’ll just be that much more rested?

Week 15
Monday:
 6.1 mi, trail (Lester Park)
Tuesday: 5.2 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 8.4 mi, road
Friday: rest/travel
Saturday: 15.3 mi, trail (Superior 25K)
Sunday: rest/travel (raining)
Total: 35 mi

Week 16
Monday:
 6.3 mi, road
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 8 mi, road
Thursday: 7.4 mi, road
Friday: 4.4 mi, trail (Western Waterfront)
Saturday: 8.7 mi, road
Sunday: 5.6 mi, road
Total: 40.4 mi

In week 15, even though I raced, I wanted to treat it as a true training week. That didn’t really work out, because my planned Sunday run didn’t happen. I made a non-noteworthy pasta salad (my own “recipe,” so basically some pasta, bell peppers, cheese, cilantro, and Newman’s Own parmesan-garlic dressing. Usually it has pepperoni, too, but I forgot.) and had a nice trail run at Lester Park. The only thing I don’t really like about running at Lester Park is the elevation: it’s all up, then all down. It’s not hard, but I prefer more variety.

In week 16, I switched my focus entirely to FANS, and started practicing walk/run intervals. I am not planning to do a Galloway-style walk run, that takes a lot more adjustment. I tried it once and found that I was constantly staring at my GPS watch, wondering if I missed a beep (and then I did miss one, the one time I wasn’t staring at it). I think that would be too distracting for me during a 24 hour race. I did some run 10/walk 5 intervals and some run 15/walk 5 intervals, to see which I liked better. The transition is harder than I thought. I found that run 10/walk 5 worked ok, but I wasn’t warmed up enough for the first transition and my calf muscles felt really tight, on the verge of cramping. I don’t think that will be an issue for the race, because I plan to run at least the first hour or so straight without walk intervals, but if my plan changes, I want to make sure my muscles are sufficiently warm before starting my first walk interval. I am probably over-complicating this but I excel at that.

I also made this:

Easy Chickpea Salad, once again from The Sea Salt. I didn’t cook the chickpeas long enough, so they didn’t absorb the dressing as well as I’d have liked. I subbed cilantro for parsley because I’m a freak for cilantro. The next day I made pasta and re-made the dressing from the recipe, added some of the leftover chickpea salad, and had a slightly different take on the meal. Be warned: it makes SO MUCH FOOD. I think I ate this 4 days in a row (2 with the pasta) and still had to toss some, not because it had gone bad, but because I needed to eat something different!

Last night, I made this:

I made this. Thanks for the recipe, @food52. #chickencurry #food52 #foodforrunners #conservationofmomentum

A post shared by RWD (@runninwiththedogs) on

Chicken Curry from Food52. I used half a jar of curry powder, which is amazing. I ended up using some extra cream, too (probably 2 cups instead of 1.5), since the skillet I used was kind of large and I wanted to make sure I had the chicken covered well. Also, I like sauce. I didn’t want to bother with the mess of cutting up chicken breasts, so I bought some already cut up chicken. I know that’s really lazy but I don’t really care. I guess that also means less chance of contamination. I actually didn’t put any cilantro in because I’ve bought it so much lately and some keeps going to waste. My meal planning skills are rudimentary.

The weather has been slowly starting to get nicer, and I have had a marked change in my mood. Earlier in the month I was stressing myself out a lot about the temperature, worrying about being cold only to find out it wasn’t that cold once I got outside. The last week+, I’ve run in shorts almost every day and felt fine. It was even hot for that 8.7 mile run on Saturday of Week 16! Some last minute heat training! Except now it looks like rain/thunderstorms for race day with highs in the 60s F. Woo.

I’m done running until Saturday! That feels strange to say. I plan on walking a few miles here and there to keep my legs moving, but other than that, I’m resting, prepping, and trying not to drive myself crazy between now and Saturday morning.