Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hitting the Proverbial Wall and Figuring out the Nutrition Game

We were so lucky on Sunday.  We were up before the sun, so we could get in our 20 mile jaunt (only 3 hours of running) in time to leave for church, and luckily got fair weather and clear roads for our run.  Later in the day we were covered in snow and ice.  Here are some pictures courtesy of our pastor, showing our situation:

During our run - clear:

And after church (thank GOD we were done running) - snowy:  

We got covered in only a few inches of snow; it was the 1/2 inch of ice that really did us in.  Christian was happy not to have school on Monday or Tuesday. 

We had initially mapped out a 10 mile route and 2 five mile routes, but ended up running our 10 mile route twice.  I know, I know...it goes against all of my rules (see my post on Running Routes) but one of the five mile routes we were going to run is one of my least favorites and so I was willing to forgo the silly rule this time.  All in all it was a good decision to just double up.  I think it was more realistic in terms of running these longer routes without passing by home base.  Since most of our routes start and stop at the house we typically end up running past the house a few times and Christian and I agreed that pychologically for these long runs we need to minimize "coming home."  It makes us want to stop. 

Part of my biggest issue with training for the marathon has been figuring out how much I need to supplement my calories during my run with gels or sports drinks to make it through without feeling awful - or hitting the wall.  When I ran my second half marathon a couple years back, I struggled a lot around mile 8 and I didn't feel great or have fun.  As I told Christian on Sunday, if we are going to run this marathon we are going to have fun doing it and I don't want to feel like bad like that again. 

So how do we do it?  I have been asking a lot of questions from my known experts as well as doing a lot of reading on the subject of hitting the wall and nutrition.  Everything I have learned encourages you to supplement your caloric intake with any run over an hour and then really experiment with what works for you, when you need eat or drink and how much works best.  I have tried several different varieties of gels and drinks and sports beans and by golly I think I have it figured out.  I understand that you need to get the stuff in your body before you actually need it so you don't run out of energy.  I also have learned that mile 18 is the most critical because that is when your body has used up every available calorie and now has to figure out how to keep you running and where to get that energy from. 

My strategy is this:  I eat an apple and a serving of cereal an hour before we are to leave.  I also drink water, and try to get a good 8-12 oz in before we leave.  Fifteen minutes prior to departure time I have a Gatorade prime.  I carry with me some Gatorade (the step 2 formula) and water.  Just to digress a moment, I have engineered this ingenious system of baggies and Tupperware to carry my Gatorade and water in my pocket.  I think I am a genius.  Christian thinks I am embarrassing myself...and I am definitely embarrassing him.  Oh well!  I also carry with me at least 2 gel packs.  I have one at mile 7ish and the other at mile 15ish along with water.  This week I felt great.  By great I mean - yes...my legs and my feet hurt like the dickens, but I had plenty of energy to get the job done.

And then there is Christian.... Teaching a 16-year-old what he "already knows" is quite the difficult task.  Christian, as strong and as energetic as he is, hit the wall.  I'm glad!  There, I said it!  I am glad he hit the wall.  Now here's why:  Often, when you are 16...think back...think about it...yep, you got it!  You have to learn the hard way.  Boy, Christian learned the hard way.  He did great overall.  It was a long run.  However, when we hit mile 18, almost on the dot, he was hurting and he was struggling.  He had little to no energy to finish the last two miles.  He can do it, and he knew he could but his body had nothing left to give.  Why you might ask?  Well, Christian said he didn't need a gel.  Christian said he was fine to run 20 miles with just water.  "OK," I said, knowing darn well what would happen.  He knows he needs something now.  He's tired of the gels.  He said they are kinda gross.  Yeah they are, but I'm not eating them because of their delicious flavors, they are a means to the end. 

Don't worry, Christian finished his run.  With a few encouraging words from Mom and talking him through each step, he made it.  See...I'm good for something.

I now get to teach him how to supplement his body so he has enough energy.  I'm sure he will be listening as all good teenagers do. 

Thanks for your recent comments and keep them coming.  We love to hear your feedback and ideas. What's your energy secret?  Favorite gel flavor?  Only 2 months and 14 days.....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It feels like a vacation

So here it is Thursday and I haven't posted yet this week.  I think it is because it feels like we are on vacation.  We are on a recovery week this week, so we get an extra rest day and our longest run is 6 miles.  After all the running we have been doing 6 miles feels like a breeze. Christian and I joke with each other about when will 10 miles feel like a breeze...I'm thinking probably pretty soon.  A recovery week is just as important as our increasing mileage.  Not only does it give our bodies and minds a much needed rest, but after running as much as we do and then taking this time off, our bodies are itching to get "back into the game."

In addition to it being a recovery week, we are also having the warmest week that we have had in 3 months or so.  It is great. It has been between 35 and 50 degrees all week and feels likes Spring.  Most (not all) of our snow has even melted.  I made the mistake of layering up too much on my Tuesday run and was hot.  Sometimes the change in clothes is a difficult transition to make.  You don't want to be cold and you forget how easily it is to become hot.  Who knows...we might even be able to run in shorts today!  Well....we'll see.

Even though it feels like a vacation this week, we are gearing up for a 20 mile run on Sunday.  Christian and I agreed that we aren't really looking forward to running 20 miles, but it is quite an accomplishment.  I think part of it is that we haven't quite forgotten the pain we were in after running 18 miles.  Nevertheless, it is our next leap in our training and we will give it our best.  It is nice to see the days starting a little sooner and ending a little later so that our chances of having to run in the dark are decreasing. We hope for continued mild weather for our big run on Sunday and the next jump back into our routine.

As always, thanks for checking in with our progress and stay tuned for more adventures.

Monday, February 7, 2011

What's With the Attitude?

I have to admit that the for the first 3 weeks of the year I was less than enthusiastic about training for this marathon.  Oh sure, I followed the training and felt good when I ran, but my heart was just not in it.  When I looked at our training schedule over the course of the next several months I was overwhelmed.  What had I gotten myself into?  What was thinking?? And then, there was Christian, he seemed so excited and he was running really good.  I felt guilty and disappointed with myself that I wasn't more excited too.  I mean everyone kept telling me what a great accomplishment this was.  Its true that I was very excited about running with Christian, but maybe we could finagle some type of side car and I could just ride along beside him.  That seems so much easier and a lot less work on my part.

For obvious reasons that was not the best attitude to have and after our first recovery week I told myself I needed to change my attitude.  If I was going to get through this and enjoy it, I needed to change my point of view.  So I did.  Rather than dread the extra long run at lunchtime, I would think about all the places I get to see around Kalamazoo and run with a smile.  Instead of thinking "I have to run 14 miles on Sunday"  I would look at it as:  "I get to run 14 miles on Sunday and then think of all the food I can eat because I just burned a ton of calories."  I used to be bummed because it was snowing and cold and now I think about how much stronger I will be on race day because of the conditions I trained in. 

This Sunday we accomplished another milestone.  We ran 18 miles and ran together most of the way.  Christian ran at my pace mainly because we ran new routes which he wasn't familiar with, but I also think it was so he could complain to me for the next two hours or so.  It became evident to me after about mile 2 that Christian has hit the same point where I was two weeks ago.  He's tired, frustrated and it doesn't feel fun right now.  We're doing all this work and there is little reward.  Sure, we can say we've run 18 miles, but who cares, when we feel like crap afterwards.  After our long runs, we are down and out for the rest of that day.  Our bodies hurt all over.  For a while we can barely walk (or so it feels) and we want to do nothing more than sleep.  Why go through all this suffering?

Its all part of the training.  Its all part of the game. I wish I could take credit for this revelation, but I read it on the training site I've been using (www.marathontraining.com).  Here it is....are you ready.....You have to hit this mental point of no return during your training so that not only your body, but your mind knows you can go on and finish the race.  That's it!  You need to figure it out while your training.  If you're mind doesn't change its attitude to know that you can get through it during your weeks of training, you won't be able to go on during the race. You're not only training your legs and arms and feet but you're training your mind too.  It is a physical race but it is also a mental game too.

Now I know we can do it.  It will be hard, but in the end but we will finish the race and reach the prize.  We will press onward towards the goal. (Phil 3:14)

Its like they say:  If a marathon was easy, everyone would do it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

GroundHog Day, Blizzard 2011 and Other Notes of Interest

Good News! Puxatony Phil did NOT see his shadow on his special Groundhog Day, which means Spring is right around the corner.  That means clear roads to run on and not so many clothes (we hope).

On another note, we are currently recovering from Blizzard 2011, or so the media has named it.  This picture really doesn't do it justice, but this was about 11:30am and it had finally stopped snowing. We did get a lot of snow (about 12-14 inches) and drifting. The big storm hit last night and pelted us all the way through midday today.  We were not sure if we would be able to run today since it wasn't until mid-afternoon that our roads were plowed.  We made it though and both Christian and I had good runs.

Christian's times have improved so much.  He ran his eight miles in just over an hour today and pretty much beats me every time we run together.  We finished 16 miles for our long run last week and are moving up to 18 on Sunday.  We have to get up early to run now, since we have church at 11:30am (we previously attended Saturday nights) and it is a solid 1/2 hour drive.  I don't know if we really like the getting up early part but at least we'll be done and there isn't that constant anticipation of running this long distance.  In addition, it will get us nicely prepared for the early morning of the marathon.

Just to bring you up to speed on our other running companions:  my dad is doing great so far and keeps plugging along with his mileage.  He is timing at about a 1/2 hour behind my times - not too shabby for a 67 year old!  Erik is still recovering from his ankle/foot injury.  He is feeling optimistic that he will be able to join us, although he will most likely be using it as a "training race" (ummmm....what is it we're doing right now then???) for the Chicago Marathon rather than a competitive jaunt.  My understanding is that Paul and I are timing at about the same pace right now, although he is having some injury issues.  I am certain I can whip his butt in the end.  Surely, it is just this cold weather and all these clothes holding me back from a supersonic pace right now.  I mean....not that I am competitive in any way whatsoever. 

If you are enjoying the posts, please sign up as a follower.  I really don't know what it means, other than letting me know you're there!  More exciting adventures to come and....only 3 months (and 6 days) until race day!!!