Monday, January 11, 2010

The Run That Wasn't

Yesterday was a beautiful day for my long run.  The temperature had climbed into the mid 20s, still cold but, with the sun, it felt warm compared to the single digit highs we've been having.  Snow covered the ground. The only thing foul was my mood.  Hubby and I had a tug of war earlier in the morning over the rest of my season.  My marathon training, along with the added responsibility of a toddler, has him a bit overwhelmed and my mention of more racing sent him reeling.  Unfortunately, what I heard wasn't "less racing" it was "no more training."  Now, we all know how important this is to me.  How much I've missed it and what it means to me to be "back".  So "no more training" didn't sit very well with me. Which, as you might guess, is an understatement.  I suspect the struggle going on in my mind - the wrestling match between my desire to be reasonable and to be a good wife and mother and my (possibly compulsive) need for training, for "me time" - had something to do with what happened later.

 After last week's effort, I had decided to just take it easy, do my alloted time and not worry about distance.  With that intention, I headed for Chubb Trail - a nice, long trail that meanders through the woods and hills of West County, intersecting three State parks in the process.  The plan was a 1:45 run, out and back.  I had my Gatorade and some Sharkies (I thought I'd try something different since the gel went down so badly last week), a flask of water to round it out.  I put on my Yak Traks and headed down the trail. 

The first two miles or so are mostly downhill with some moderate but short inclines that lead you to the Meramec River Valley and three or more miles of flat, lovely running on soft dirt, sand and gravel (or, in yesterday's case, snow).  I kept it real easy the first 10 min then realized I had to pee.  Great.  The trail wasn't crowded by any means but there were a number of cars in the parking lot which meant someone could come along at any time.  In the summer, the underbrush on either side of the trail offers plenty of cover but, in the winter, you might as well drop trou in the middle of the trail.  I was lucky, however, and found a little ravine to do my business in.  So, relieved (hah!), I set out again.  My heart rate hadn't even had the chance to come back down.  It was going very well.  I was inordinately thirsty but thought nothing of it - though I did try to take small sips to ration my fluids for the duration.  I picked it up a little after my warm up and pit stop and was feeling fine.  I came to the valley and was looking forward to winding around the creek and reveling in the beautiful, snow painted landscape.  I was about thirty minutes into my run, keeping my heart rate in a modest range, cruising along.  Then.  I bonked.  Hard.  My legs turned to jello.  I felt shaky, dizzy, a little disoriented.  I stopped and tried walking, hoping I would get my bearings and be fine.  I sipped Gatorade.  I tried different combinations with my various layers, thinking maybe I was getting too hot.  Finally, even though I was only thirty minutes in, I ate a few Sharkies.  Then a few more.  Shit, I was HUNGRY.  So I ate the rest.  I started to continue the loop but, then, my rational self reminded me that the last thing I wanted to do was to bonk hard more than five miles from my car in the middle of the woods at 23 degrees.  So, I turned around, absolutely defeated.  At first, all I could do was walk. Then, I was able to jog until I came upon a dude and his three unleashed black labs who took an unhealthy interest in me (the dogs, not the dude) and managed to head butt me breathless and knock off my fuel belt.  Only after my meager rations were in the snow did the dude think to call off the dogs.  Like it didn't occur to him before that the tired looking running chic might not want to entertain his boisterous dogs for five minutes before getting back to her car.  You can tell I was still feeling kind of snarky which is probably a good sign - at least I had the energy to be in a crappy mood. 

After a few minutes, the sharkies kicked in and I got back to the car without incident.  I was far too tired in relation to the miles I did, so I know I did the right thing turning around but I still feel like I failed.  It frightens me a little, brings up too many what ifs:  what if I can't do this, what if I'm reaching too far, what if its over for me and this silly little obsession is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to hang onto my Youth (who is, as we speak, packing her things and surfing the net for greener pastures).  I know I'm not old, by any means, but I can't be described as "youthful" anymore.  I'm a grown up.  So, what if grown ups aren't supposed to want to do things like this?  I could list my insecurities for hours but wouldn't that be boring. 

In the end, I made it home.  I had a civil discussion with Hubby in which I calmly told him how important it was for me to do this and which he calmly told me that he would be supportive but that the amount of racing I was proposing was too much for him to stomach.  Less racing I can deal with.  Less training, even (after the marathon).  Less is fine with me.  None is not.  So, I've come to some peace with all of that.  Its an uneasy peace, but I'll take it. 

I'm still puzzled about why I bonked so hard.  I would love some advice from you veteran marathoners out there.  I didn't eat a whole lot before hand - I couldn't finish my lunch two hours before, though I ate most of it.  It wasn't really carb heavy - a salad and turkey on a whole wheat pocketless pita.  Maybe I should eat more carbs just before my run.  As I've mentioned, I'm trying to drop these last ten pounds so I've been cautious about my calories.  I had my usual Zone bar about 15-30 min. before hand.  I got enough sleep the night before.  Could I be overtraining?  Up to yesterday's run, I've felt pretty energetic though I feel a little worn out today.  Was it my emotional turmoil?  I know that can be just as exhausting as a workout sometimes.  Anyway, input is appreciated.

Meanwhile, I'll just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  You do the same.


Dennis said...

Emotional turmoil is very physically draining and was probably a major factor in the disappointing Chubb run. Near-term you might be a bit overtrained, but I understand the need with an April marathon. And by the way, you might need to drop the swimming and crossfit and put in more miles in order to be ready for the marathon. Of course that will hurt the tri prep. And while I'm giving my opinion, it's really not a great idea to try to lose weight (calorie counting) during marathon prep or any other endurance activity. Let the fat slowly burn off during training. Hope this doesn't sound too critical; just giving my opinion. dennis.

Phoenix said...

not critical at all,Dennis, thanks for the feedback!

Vickie said...

I agree with Dennis on the emotional taking its toll on you. After going through a very, very bitter divorce years ago, when I was till in prime competitive form, I totally fell apart. I know a lot of it was depression--not being interested in things you normally are--but I still tried to pull off good races, to no avail. Reducing stress will most likely reduce its toll on your training, but nutritionally, you might want to add more protein to your diet. I only know what works for me, and that's one thing that does. (I have been able to do a 4 hour tri on 2 boiled eggs and a piece of toast with no other nutrition during the race--due to forgetting it). As for the racing/training issues, I also went through that and still do to some extent when it comes to things with my family or their kids now. The only way I have gotten around it is to get up extra early to get in whatever workout I need to do. For myy long, long runs, I map out 2 or 3 routes no longer than 1 mile from home and park my water/nutrition in the driveway and do out and back loops. This way, no matter how early or late I have to get in my runs, I feel fairly safe and also have the added security of always being nearby home if bathroom breaks are necessary or I bonk or something arises. I did this when my kids were small, getting up at 4 am to get in marathon training, and no one ever missed me. Shorter runs can then be done on your favorite trails or the gym or whatever is convenient to the family.