Vacationland meets Crazy Land

We were *this* close to a team run this weekend!  *THIS* close.

Margaret had planned a trip to Maine for the holiday weekend, Janet’s camping plans in Acadia got wrecked thanks to the gov shutdown so she would be home, and I was not traveling for work. It looked as if the three of us might actually run together for the long run – 18-20 miles.   But, life got in the way and it turns out that we all had to run separately.  Janet scored 21 miles (overachiever), I clocked 17.5 – a bit short of my goal thanks to a killer side stitch (to be discussed later,) and Margaret is planning her 3 hrs of running time (however many miles that gets her) for today.  We’re still pretty proud of ourselves, though disappointed that we didn’t get to help each other through the madness.

So, since I was alone, I can really only report on my activity for the week.  I had to travel, so I only completed a couple of short-ish runs this week – 3-5 miles each, but close enough to stay on the training plan that I’ve been using.  I also felt a cold coming on (occupational hazard this time of year with so much handshaking and so many different germs to encounter in so many different locations… including subways,) and knew I had a long run coming on the weekend, so wanted to save some energy.

My training plan called for 18 miles on this weekend. I wanted to try and go for 20. Especially because last weekend I wanted to get to 15 and had to stop at 13 because of a side stitch.  This weekend called for redemption.

I am fortunate enough to live in the same town as Olympic Marathon Gold Medalist, Joanie Benoit Samuelson. She is incredibly kind and generous and she spreads her enthusiasm for running all over the place. She knows the local high school runners, the local college runners, the average community runners (like me) that are grinding it out on the roadways on the weekend, just trying to get it done.  She and I have had various reasons to cross paths and she has kindly taken notice of my teenage daughters’ running interests and supported me in my own.

Though I can be intimidated by her incredible athleticism and accomplishments, I still went ahead and asked her for a solid 18-20 mile route in Freeport/Brunswick.  I knew she’d have a selection of long routes she loves and since we live near each other, I knew she’d suggest something I could hop on right from my own road.  Sure enough, she cheerfully offered a route that was just the right length, though, I must say, a bit HILL -Y.  A roller coaster run was not my first choice.  However, I imagined that the next time I bump into her, she’d ask me how the run went, and I’d have to say, “Well, I wimped out  and drove to a different starting location to get a flatter route.”  LOSER answer.

Instead, I told the truth:  “Thanks for the route, I’ll give it a try. I’m fighting a cold, so I hope I’ve got the distance in me.”

Joanie: “Well, listen to your body – it might be good to cut back to 15-16 this time …. can you go long next weekend?”

Let’s mark the entrance to CRAZYLAND right here.

“…go long next weekend” – does that mean that 15-16 miles, my “cut back”, is not long?  Where does long begin? 18? 20?  But I took the bait and parked right there in Crazy Land as I tightened my Hokas and started on Joanie’s original 18 miler recommendation.  No cut backs.

As I was running, her route reminded me that I live in Maine – aka VACATIONLAND.  Crazy Land and Vacationland all in one day.

Here is evidence of Vacationland on my run:

MILE 6.5

IMG_1703

MILE 12.5

IMG_1704

MILE 13.5

IMG_1705

These were some pretty fine sites to keep me cruising along on a very hilly route.  In my favor – perfect temp (50 degrees), light cloud cover.  Working against me – low tide and cow farms – not so fresh air in some key areas.  😉

TUNES:  Pandora cycled through some great artists: James Taylor, 10,000 Maniacs, Alison Krauss, Mark Knopfler, Sarah McLachlan, Dixie Chicks, Lyle Lovett (3 times), John Mayer (5 times), plus others.  I know those artists don’t sound like they’d provide the rock-on beat that one might need to keep running, but if you run a 10 min mile, their tunes are for you.

NUTRITION:  I had eaten carefully all week.  Now that I have logged multiple very, very long runs, I am constantly hungry.  I have a theory about this. I am definitely eating a enough calories to make up for what I burn plus what I need to stay alive, plus some extra treats because there is a certain amount of “food forgiveness” that I am taking advantage of with the mileage.   But, I think my brain has taken note of the many weekends of forced bodily distress and emptying of caloric reserves, and is trying to prepare in advance… telling me, “Eat up. THAT could happen again.”   So, I am even more conscious of the balance of what I eat, when I need to eat more carbs to have the energy on hand for long days, planting water along the way, and carrying energy chews with me.

CRAMP: Still, even with my attention to nutritional needs, that ridiculous, mean, side stitch bit me at mile 16 on this run and I pretty much limped the last mile and a half…. I was disappointed. I really wanted at least the 18.  I know a .5 mile difference isn’t a lot, but it IS a lot when it’s short of the goal, for the second weekend in a row. 

On the upside, 17.5 miles took me exactly to this spot – MY HOUSE!!!

IMG_1707

To get the 18, I would have had to run past my house and that would have been hard to do, even without a cramp.

Back to the cramp – if anyone knows anything about side stitches, please help me.  A friend of mine recently asked me what my fears were about the marathon. I have many, but at the top of the list is SIDE-STITCH because if I can’t breathe it out right away, I’m cooked. I’m sorry, but I just don’t think I can do the pickle juice on a long distance run, despite the believers who swear it will save me.  Nevermind the fact that I’m not sure how I would access pickle juice during the marathon…

RECOVERY CARE:  I did sit in an ice bath, but that’s not the good part of recovery care.  Typically,  I am not a routine nail salon patron. In the past, it’s just been a treat when I’m in NYC or every now and then at a place near home. But, in the last couple of months, I have been getting regular pedicures – on the long run days – because I am willing to pay someone to to rub my feet.  The spiffy polish on my toes is just a nice take away.  Fortunately for me, Eddie is sympathetic to the toll the mileage takes on my feet… so he does an extra super job working on my feet and calves.

Eddie is awesome. (He works at Nails Lexus, by the way, Rte 1 in Falmouth, ME. Go there.)

IMG_1720

So, all in all, we are in the home stretch.  Next weekend is 12-13 miles. Then, one more really long one – a 20-22 miler – in late October, and then it’s tapering until the really, really long one on November 17th!

Onward!

Running to Crazy Land

My former college roommate commented that I’m definitely a runner since I refer to my distances in the hundredth of a mile… as in “12.92” versus what most of the population would refer to as “13.” 

Truth is, I’ve never thought of myself as a runner, which is a bit strange, since I’ve been running on and off for the last 8-9 years.  Seven years ago, I ran my first 10k. Two years ago, I ran a 10 mile race. Last year, I ran two half marathons with one month in between them.  Yet, in spite of all of that, I still think of myself on the outside of the running population – an interloper – not actually a spectator – but  more of a  “don’t mind me, I’m just passing through” presence. 

Is it because I’m not fast? Is it because I am only dedicated when I have a race distance that scares me?   I tell myself that I’ve been coerced into the races, and that I can (and do) blame my running buds for getting me to register. Is it because they were a pair, and then they invited me in, and I always run behind? (They’re faster.)

I’m not sure why I haven’t given myself the credit that I apply to every other runner I see on the road… but today, I realized I *am* definitely “a runner.”

This is how I know:

1. I was up before the sun so that I could start the barn chores and still drive to Janet’s house by 6:30 a.m.

2. I put on shorts and a t-shirt even though it was only 48 degrees outside.

3. I rubbed silicone stick all over my skin in any place that I thought might rub against fabric.

4. I drank pickle juice to keep the cramps away. (I’ll come back to this one.)

5. I took 2 pit stops in the woods (this is Janet’s fault.) 

6. I ran 16 miles.

7. I got back to my house, filled the tub with cold water, poured in three bowls of ice, and then SAT in it.

(I’ve just paused, thinking, “I only have 7 items – 10 would make a more legit list.”  But then I just re-read my list of only 7 and I think those are enough highlights to prove the point. 😉 )

 

I’ve heard that runners, whether they know it or not, are part of what’s sometimes called “a closed community” – meaning that they bond strongly to one another through the shared experience of endurance and sacrifice, and are sometimes not in touch with how their extremism affects or impacts others.  I disagree. I don’t think it’s a “closed community.”  I think it’s Crazy Land.  And I’ve just moved in.

Crazy Land is not  a closed community at all – it’s wide open -everyone is invited, especially runners. And, what I realize now, is that anyone who puts on sneaks, puts one foot in front of the other, over and over again, despite the body’s readiness to stop, IS a runner, including me.  The distance doesn’t matter. The pace doesn’t either.  Stepping to the challenge makes a runner. And, the challenge is *always* self imposed. Sure, I freely point the finger at Janet and Margaret, but the truth is that I’ve always had the power to say “no”, but I never have.  Even this morning, Janet was planning on running 17 miles. My training plan suggested 14.  We agreed that I would shoot for 15 and Janet would keep going to get her 17.  But then, when we got to the 7.5 mile turnaround, Janet said, “Let’s go for a full 8 before we turn back – can  you do 16?” and I said, “Ok.” 

I’m pretty sure that’s proof that I’m a runner and that I did it to myself.  Janet just suggested the distance. I actually made myself do it.  I am a runner.

 

NOTE RE CRAMPS:  My 2 previous distance runs were really wrought with gut splitting cramps.  More than one person suggested drinking pickle juice, which sounded a bit out of bounds, even for Crazy Land, but I Googled it and it does seem popular.  This morning, I poured about 1/4 cup of dill pickle juice from the pickle jar into my 6 oz water container.  I have to say, I only drank a portion of that concoction and I just couldn’t do more.  At one of our water stops (shout out to Janet’s husband, Michael Griffin, for stashing water along the route for us), I poured out what I had and refilled with just plain water. Then I burped and sweated pickle juice for about the next 5 miles.  Just not my thing.

BUT – this was a CRAMP FREE RUN.  Maybe it *was* pickle juice, maybe it’s because I started taking probiotics, maybe it’s because my body has finally calmed down, OR, maybe it’s because I shared 16 miles with my friend, Janet, and in spirit with my friend, Margaret.

 

NOTE RE TEAMMATES:  Janet is in fine form. She’s ahead of me in mileage and polished off 17+ miles this morning after a particularly grueling, sleep deprived week of work related stresses.  Margaret is recovering from emergency surgery. She will be fine, but she needs some recovery time.  Of course, some people in her situation might just bail on the marathon, but I’m pretty sure Margaret will be back to her training without a doctor’s note.  Inspirational teammates for sure!