Tuesday, July 27, 2010
That post-running event malaise that comes over any runner once they run the race that has been marked on their calendar for months and has loomed in their minds with a capital R.
My capital-R race wasn't even one that I paid an entry fee for. However, it was the race that divided my summer into two halves, before the Lone Ranger when I'd be pacing Tara and after the race. Before the race, I was consistently running, making sure to log plenty of miles each week, to run at a good pace, to take few walk breaks, all so that I could be a helpful, worthwhile pacer (not a slow, lazy pacer who was an annoying slug next to the speedy hundred mile gal). After the race...well, there isn't anything on the calendar except a weekend trip to Massachusetts and a honeymoon in Bermuda (which isn't to say, I'm not extremely, fantastically excited for my belated honeymoon, because I am: pink sands, turquoise waters, mai tais, long walks with the love of my life...perfection). I guess I should say, there is no Next Race on the calendar.
So, I've run twice since the Lone Ranger, a 1.8 mile run and this mornings 3.1. Not much.
I guess even this relaxed runner needs a purpose, otherwise I move beyond relaxed and into sloth.
So, I'm signing up for a 5K race - the Epilepsy Run/Walk - in Harrisburg on August 7th. I'll get to support a cause that is important in the life of some friends whose little girl has epilepsy. And I've given myself a new goal.
Think I can do it?
Friday, July 23, 2010
In the last few weeks before the race, the 20in24 Lone Ranger Ultra Marathon, things started to get real. Real, as in I'd agreed to run 16 miles with
However, on Friday July 16th, I wandered the house gathering all sorts of items I'd agreed to bring to the race: a scale, pompoms, hydrogen peroxide, scissors, markers, chairs, blankets, coolers, a foam roller, pillows...My car was packed to the gills with so much stuff that neighbors must have thought I was preparing for an apocalyptic event rather than camping along the banks of the Schuylkill River.
When I met
By 8 am on Saturday, the four of us were setting up camp behind the
Honestly, I think I was pretty disorganized as a support person for
But, by lap 3 Bethany, Anna, and I had our assignments. We decided zone defense was our best offense.
As I soon discovered, there are two sides of being on an ultra runner's team: the pacing side, and the support side. The support side is what I've been describing - checking on nutrition, water intake, asking about blisters or chafing. Then there is the actual running with your runner, the pacing.
I'd been practicing pacing in my head for the last couple of weeks. Each time I'd run, I'd pretend I was with
This lap was one of
I have to say, running at night in
Tara and I kept going over the math in our heads: how many miles she had yet to go to reach 100, how many hours she had yet to accomplish this task. The math said she had it nailed, with up to 2 hours to spare.
When my lap with Tara was done, I passed her off to Anna, explaining how
Then, I went to the hotel for a nap. When I woke up at 4:30 and checked in with
There we were at the medical tent, ice bags surrounding her feet, and the doctors told
When the doctors became more involved with another runner, Team Ultara made our getaway. I drove
Each step was a battle for
After walking with
Part of me felt such sadness over this,
Final tally: 92.5 miles in 22 hours.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Me to young girl working behind the counter: Do you have Gu?
Young girl: What? Goo?
Me: Do you have Gu or, um, Clif Shots?
Young girl: Shots? (I could almost see the thought bubble over her head, like in a cartoon, with a tequila bottle and a shot glass next to it, maybe sitting in a sticky pool of mysterious goo.)
Me (now rather frustrated): No, not goo - you know, energy gels. For running. Gu.
Young girl: Oh, those things in packets? No, we had a box but it expired so we threw it out.
That, in a nutshell, is what it's like doing a specialized activity in the heart of Pennsylvania. I'd made a special trip to this local chain sporting goods store in Harrisburg because I was pretty sure that the smaller stores in my hometown wouldn't have anything specialized. I'd once made a trip in my town to the sporting store for running socks, but the closest they had were "cotton" socks for working out.
In my previous life - when I didn't get the chance to run alongside gorgeous cornfields after stepping out my front door - there was a running store 5 blocks from me. And another running store 10 minutes away. And another running store 25 minutes away. Filled with dozens of pairs of running shoes and knowledgeable staff who knew about which shoe to give an over-pronator with well-defined arches and plenty of options for fuel from gels to chews to bars.
But now, running - and all the gear, the shoes, the clothes, the energy gels - that accompany this sport I've fallen in love with - is a unique pastime, not well understood or supported off the beaten path. Trade-off: no running stores, but running with corn. Not bad, really.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Now, to most of the population, let's say 99.2%, the above statement sounds so ludicrous, like an anti-sado-masochistic form of self-torture (anti, because there can be no pleasure found sitting in an ice bath, can there?).
Of the remaining 0.8% of the population, 0.6% shudder knowingly, nod their heads, and understand. The other 0.2% I think actually enjoy ice baths. There have to be a few real wackos out there.
Ice baths are the realm, I suppose, of those athletes who have pushed themselves far enough and need the cooling relief that ice provides sore and overused muscles. I write that a bit self-depricatingly since I don't really lump myself in with "athletes" like Lance Armstrong or Kara Goucher. But, in this case, I guess I fall into that category, at least for ice baths.
Here's how my ever first ice bath went. I arrived back at home after my run sweating so profusely I left an icky schmeery mark on the glass of our front door. My legs felt great, but I pushed them a bit, and for once, I actually had time. That, really, is the key element to taking an ice bath. I need time, say an extra 20 minutes, to perform this ritual and since I'm a slow runner, the 20 minutes adds onto my already climbing number of minutes I'm occupied with the activity of running in some way.
Anywho, I grabbed all the ice in the freezer - 2 whole trays worth - and head upstairs. I run the cold water into the tub about half way and crack the ice into the water. Then I lower my legs into the cold-ish water.
I have this crazy mental snapshot of me, sitting there in 5 inches of water with about 40 ice cubes floating around in there with me, melting pretty quickly in my cool bath. I'm pretty sure that when Paula Radcliffe takes an ice bath, she's got way more than 40 ice cubes. I've gotten the water temp to luke-cold, I think.
Claire comes into the bathroom and sees me in a tubby and gets sssoooooo excited, in the way that only 4 year olds can get excited about a bath. She puts in baby dolphin and mama whale, 2 ponies, and a boat and takes off her clothes. She ignores all my warnings about how cool the water is, until she's standing there in the water with me. "Mommy!" she yells, eyes super-big, "you forgot the warm. Let me turn it on for you." I don't let her, so she just settles in to the cold-ish water, hands me mama whale, and gets me to play with her.
That was last week. Tonight's bath went a little better. I had 5 whole trays of ice cubes and I felt only a little less silly than last week. I huddled under a purple bath towel for warmth and read 11 pages of a book.