Race Report: Green Mountain Relay (Part 2)

In our last exciting installment, we hadn’t even started racing yet. Well hold onto your Baby Wipes, kids, because this is where the party starts.

Incidentally, did you ever notice that Baby Wipes smell like jelly donuts? We did.

Van 1, being Van 1 (a tautology, to be sure), started first. Since our two co-captains are in the federal witness protection program or something, they don’t wish to be identified, so I will simply refer to them as The Captain and (Toni) Tennille. Toni was our starter. After picking up our bibs and other accessories (and noting that one team had estimated their average pace per mile at 4:30 — I suspect it was the Canadians. Thinking in kilometers, those crazy northerners. I guess their little brains must be frozen!), Toni lined up with three other team starters and we eagerly awaited the official start of our racing adventure.

One other thing I should mention is that it was fucking hot. Probably around 82 at the start. Full sun. And a steady, hot headwind.

Another thing — I’m skipping around, I know — the van parked directly across from ours had a blowup sex doll strapped to the front. At the start, she was perky and upright. But as the race wore on, we would see her again, in various stages of decline. Just a few hours later, she had collapsed, her head suggestively lodged in her own crotch. Still later, she was a shell of her former bloated self, a dessicated, sagging sack of tawdriness long departed.

Okay. Back to the race. Since this is all about me, I’ll just move onto my leg 1. It was classified as “Hard” and consisted of 6.6 miles with around 2.5 going up a steep grade. One section was over a mile straight uphill. It was probably around 86 degrees when I started at 1PM. As typically happens, I started racing and thought, “Well, this isn’t so bad.”

Within a mile, though, it was bad. I’d had plans to run the first leg at between 75-82% to save myself for the other races. Those plans went out the window as I watched my HR shoot up to 95% as I struggled to run 10:00 uphill. The wind had picked up too, around 15mph steady. There was virtually no shade. It was hard. Had I not been acclimated from some other hot races, and getting water every couple of miles, I don’t know that I could have finished the leg at the effort I was running.

A race through Hades.

I kept my HR at 92% average (that’s half marathon effort for me) and was really careful about paying attention to how I felt. One team dropped out after a runner of theirs collapsed, I think on this same leg (someone said it was 6.6 miles on Saturday at around 2PM). That would have put her about an hour behind me. She collapsed, out cold, broke teeth and had to be flown to an ICU. Last we heard, on Monday, she was out of ICU but still in the hospital.

I finished up in 1:00:16 (9:10 pace), a time I was happy with considering the awful conditions. No one passed me, which was about my only goal, other than surviving. Now it was time to wait and see if that effort would destroy my two later races. I had a headache that wouldn’t go away until around 9PM, just an hour before I would run again. My stomach was also iffy, which always happens after a big effort in the heat. I was a little worried. As it turns out, I needn’t have been. But others were not so lucky.

We spent some of our free time at Ben & Jerry’s, although I wasn’t up for ice cream. Unfortunately they don’t run the ice cream factory on the weekend, so it was just us and a zillion other touristas, eating cups and cones of instant diabetes. In a state of semi-delirium I bought Jonathan a tee shirt with cows on it in the gift shop. Then we went and hung out in the post-apocalyptic van transfer zone featured in Part 1. I attempted to sleep, but it was impossible.

At the entrance to the parking area, a local pizzeria had set up a stand, somehow having constructed a brick oven pizza. It looked good, if you could stomach pizza after a day of racing in high heat and sun. The race course ran right by the al fresco pizzeria, about .15 miles before the end of that leg, which means people were sprinting through. As I was people watching and waiting for more runners, one poor guy staggered in and promptly let loose a prodigous offering of projectile vomit mere feet from the pizza stand. He would not stop. “There goes the pizza business,” I thought to myself.

The Ambers.

It was in this particular parking lot that I noticed what we would come to call “The Amber Van.” Team members’ names were written in pastels all over the windows. We’d hoped to see some Tiffanys, Britneys and Ashleys. Where they lacked in bimbo names, they made up in costumery, however. We pegged the woman to the right in the above photo (yellow shoes) as “Amber” and also discussed the distinct possibility that her breasts were, in fact, miracles of science. Their van was parked right next to us and its occupants, in flagrant violation of event rules (and common sense), were splayed out on the pavement, just waiting for another van to flatten them. We declined this invitation, tempting as it was.

We basically mocked every other team within eyesight. I had no idea there were people on this earth who could be as relentlessly and mercilessly critical as I am. I was in good, cruel company.

As the day wore on, I was aware of my own growing sense of filth. I had done the requisite wipe down in the back of the van (and change into my lounging shorts and tee shirt), but there’s really no replacement for a proper shower or bath. I accepted my stank and moved on. I had been forewarned.

We opted out of finding a restaurant for dinner — too much time pressure, and I didn’t really want a full meal sitting on my already delicate stomach anyway. I grazed through the day and evening on safe foods like bananas, bread and crackers.

Soon enough, it was time for leg #2. This was at 10PM at night. Whee! My first experience not only running, but racing, at night. This leg was friendlier, rated “Medium” — an even 4 miles on a slight uphill grade of .05% average. Practically flat. The temperature had dropped into the upper 60s, but now it was really humid. Still, better than what we got in the afternoon.

I started my run and immediately passed a runner from one of the slower teams. For the next few miles, I ran alone. I felt remarkably good considering my oven-running ordeal earlier. The experience of night racing was one of shifting, sensual impressions. I was not really paying attention to pace or distance. Aside from passing cars and race vans (and a few huge tractor trailers, all of whom considerately moved over and gave me room), I was aware of just a few things: the rhythmic slapping of my flats on the pavement, the sounds of dogs barking in the distance and the constellation of gnats illuminated by my headlamp, and which I had initially mistaken for drizzle. I really enjoyed this run.

At the 3.4 mile mark I heard someone approach from behind, what experienced relayers call a “ninja.” She was a younger woman, running 7:20s to my 7:55s. We said hello, noted the humidity and encouraged each other: “Good job.” I tried to stay with her, but couldn’t. That was fine. I was glad for the company for a minute, and she did pull me along for a bit. I was sorry when the run ended. Stats for that one were 4.08 miles (you can’t run the tangents unless you run in traffic; no thanks) in 32:16 (7:55 pace). Average effort for that one was 91%. I simply couldn’t run any harder than that.

I was now exhausted. I wolfed down some bread with semi-frozen Nutella. At 10:30, we still had two more race legs of our set of six to do, then a 40 minute drive to our cheap motel, where I would collapse and sleep the Sleep of the Dead for 90 minutes. But not before taking a shower to wash off the layer of skeev that covered me like cheap vinyl siding on a Neutra.*

Tomorrow: inclement weather, tasteless tee shirts, the best breakfast I’ve ever eaten, singing Kumbaya.

*See, this is why I pull in buckets of money as a writer. I sleep on a golden threaded pillow from my creatively facilitated earnings, people. Note the clever simile, followed by a sophisticated cultural reference that further contains a subtle reference to my age. Fucking brilliant, I tell you.

The 1500

Last night I did my second track race, again at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island. The weather was considerably more amenable than last time, although it was still on the windy side. Fortunately, it was a swirling wind and gusty rather than steady. It was warm, but not at all humid, which also helped.

We got there in 20 minutes. Last time it took us over an hour. So there was a lot of sitting around time. There were a lot more people there this time around, something I was happy about because it meant I’d get to run in a women’s only race rather than a mixed one.

I stupidly forgot to bring any water, so once I warmed up, I was pretty thirsty. I don’t know if the water in the women’s room sink spigot was potable or not. I guess I’ll know in a week or two.

As usual, I felt sluggish and slow during my warmup. But I’m learning to ignore that and not read too much into it. And, once again, I was intimidated by a woman who looked around my age but had much less body fat. I also did not need to worry about her, as it turned out.

I learned my lesson in the last race: starting lane position is important. Last time I started in an outer lane and spent most of the race running wide around people in the innermost lane. This time I lined up in lane 1. On the second lap I needed to hop into lane 2 in order to pass two people, but other than that I was in lane 1 the whole way. We were all really spread out anyway, so crowding was not an issue. But, still, it was good to get a start in the most advantageous lane.

My pacing plan was as follows:

Lap 1: 66 (remember, it’s a 1500, not a mile, so the first lap is 300m)

Lap 2: 90

Lap 3: 90

Lap 4: Run real fast

I was shooting for a 5:36 and had figured that if I could go out just a smidgen faster than goal pace and then hold at 90 for the bulk of the race, once reaching lap 4 I could either try to continue to hold on or pick it up if possible. The race didn’t quite play out that way. I’m still learning how to pace these things.

I came through the first lap in 60 seconds. Oops. So much for even pacing.

Lap 2 was 92. Not too far off.

Lap 3 was 96. The wind was noticeable on that one.

Lap 4 was really pretty awful from a physical standpoint, but I managed to hold on at 96 again. One woman passed me at 30m before the finish, but I held another one off. Another meter and she would have caught me (she was 0.2 seconds behind me). Jonathan said I looked very tight on the last lap. I need to work on staying relaxed while running fast.

Official time: 5:45.8. I was 6th F and Jonathan said he thinks I was probably the first masters woman.

I was fine until about three minutes after the race. I had what I now realize was the fastest allergy attack I’ve ever experienced. Uncontrollable caughing, copious amounts of phlegm, tears, and impressive wheezing. Jonathan disappeared in the stands to watch the other races. I was not in any shape to be around other human beings, so I disappeared around the side of the stadium to continue my dramatic attack.

After about 15 minutes I managed to calm things down, but it was getting to the point where I was getting, “Are you okays?” from people. A few other women who were in the race with me were similarly coughing/wheezing, so I have to think there must have been loads of pollen (or cancer-causing particulate matter from the cars on the RFK Bridge above us).

I was sorry I was such a mess, as I would have liked to have watched some of the other races (mine was the first event). But I wanted to get home to water and an allergy pill.

Today I certainly felt the effort in my body. Mostly my upper body, like I spent the previous day weilding an overhead paint roller. But it was not as bad as after the mile. I managed 7+ miles at recovery pace this morning without issue.

That’s it for track racing this season. I’ll be back next year, with faster goal times. And allergy pills and water in my bag.

Mulling over the marathon

I make it a habit of worrying about things far in advance. Unfortunately, this often has the effect of obscuring my view of what’s happening right now. Or, rather, what’s going well.

While I’m not yet collecting any PRs at shorter distances this season, I am having a great time running all these races. I still am not yet back to where I was roughly 20 months ago, at least as far as race times are concerned. That is a depressing reality that I try not to dwell on.

I do know that things are looking up in that I do seem to be improving and, perhaps most important, I’m not feeling anywhere close to entering the danger zone of overtraining that I spent so much of last year wallowing in. I was flat out exhausted so much of the time last year that it started to feel normal. After a break I’m realizing that it’s not normal. There’s the regular fatigue that comes with stepping up training, but that you can recover from during a pre-race taper. Then there’s the other kind — a kind of tiredness that settles in and becomes a part of you, then takes months to shake.

It’s only April. Yet I feel at a crossroads as far as the marathon is concerned. I’ve been burned by that lady five times out of my six tries. I really don’t know that I want to sit down and roast marshmallows with her again. Yeah, it’s only April, but if I want to do a fall race during the normal window of fall marathons (Oct/Nov) then that means I have to start getting my training ass in gear around July. That’s 10-12 weeks from now. Not so much time to consider the implications anymore.

From day to day, I swing wildly between wanting to give the long race another go, then realizing that the thought of bombing out again makes me feel physically and spiritually ill. I also can’t get my head around going back to running 90 mile weeks. I just don’t want to. It’s too much running. The more miles I run, the slower I have to run the bulk of them and the harder it is to do my faster workouts. What’s the point? Especially if all roads lead to a crap goal race as the reward.

The fatigue of training, it seems, is not the only thing that lingers. I seem to still be carrying the fatigue of failure and disappointment in my bones. I do know that every time I read someone’s post about the spring marathon they’ve got coming up, I am just so incredibly glad to not be them. That’s got to be telling me something.

These days, as I think about what to do in the fall, I find myself gravitating more and more toward the idea of making the fall a transition back to the full marathon distance in 2011 (assuming I ever go back). This is about all my brain can handle.

Once I’ve concluded my spring fling spent whoring around among various distances and dipping my toe (as I intend to) into crazy ultra relays, track racing and cross-country racing, I could then turn my attention to becoming a very good half marathon racer. It’s a distance that I love — long enough that you’ve accomplished something of significance, but short enough that you can do one every month if you want to.

What if I could run a 1:30 by the new year? Or a 1:26? What if.

Wanted to borrow: a working analogue heart rate strap

I was recently sent a doohickey called the ithlete from the developer, a very nice gentleman named Simon Wegerif. The doohickey in question attaches to an iPod and when connected to a heart rate monitor feeds heart rate variability (HRV) data into an iPod application, also called ithlete.

The problem is, neither of my digital heart rate monitors (a Garmin and an older Polar) are recognized by the unit. You need an analog model (treadmills typically come with them) for it to work. Since I’m not  yet convinced of HRV’s legitimacy as a predictor of overtraining, I’m not willing to plunk down $50 for another monitor. I’ve written to the two guys who do the Science of Sport blog in hopes that they’ll do a post or two surveying the HRV research that’s out there.

In the meantime, I’d still like to review the product, since its maker was kind enough to send it to me gratis. So, web community, is anyone out there willing to let me borrow an analog strap for this purpose? I’d like to borrow it for a few weeks to track readings over a span of training and racing. I would mail it right back to you, plus reimburse you for the original postage costs (assuming you don’t include a brick).

If you’ve got an old analog strap lying around that you’re not using, and you’re willing to make a trip to the post office, please let me know. Email me at: raceslikeagirl@optonline.net

Here’s a list of the compatible models:

  • Suunto Dual
  • Polar T31, T34, T61
  • Polar T31 coded (incl Wearlink)
  • Nike analog chest transmitter belt
  • Cardiosport analog chest transmitter
  • Sigma Sport non coded
  • Oregon Scientific analog
  • Decathlon Geonaute HRM Chest belt

Thanks!

Obligatory “year in review” blog post

Doing a “look back on 2009″ post seems to be all the rage among running bloggers this month. Although I normally purse my lips in disapproval at such conformity, I’ll jump on the bandwagon.

Now is as good a time as any to reflect upon the past year, which from a marathon racing perspective was a disaster for me. But it was not a disaster in all areas. For one, I ran some stellar races (and workouts) at various points in the winter and spring. I almost ran a stellar 5 mile race in the fall (only to DNF at 3.7 miles with a raging hamstring). And I learned a lot, oh, yes. I learned a lot — about training in general and about myself as a unique physiological running specimen.

Here’s what I learned this year:

  • High mileage results in huge gains for me, but only up to a certain point. If I run high mileage for too long, I will eventually break down in the form of either overtraining or injury.
  • If I have injured myself, I often have a short window of faux-recovery during which I can nevertheless run a spectactular race or speed session (and fool myself into thinking I’m not really injured). But if I continue to run hard after that I will get reinjured.
  • A hot, hilly long run or race will fuck me up for weeks, if not months.
  • Doing a very long and very hilly run at the end of one or two high mileage weeks is dangerous. Depending on how long I’ve been doing high mileage, chances are good that doing one of these will push me over the edge into injury, although it can take anywhere from 7-10 days to develop. Training in Central Park is an especially hazardous prospect in these cases.
  • Extreme changes in weekly mileage are a bad idea. Going from 50 to 95 (even if I’ve recently run 95 without issue) is a great big embossed and monogrammed invitation for Injury to attend my next workout, and perhaps even bring a guest.
  • If I’m feeling very worn down and don’t want to run, I need to take the day off. A few missed runs won’t destroy a season. But too many runs that I shouldn’t have done will.

Bonus realization:

  • My right gracilis muscle does not like running in weather below 20F. My left one, however, is completely okay with this.

The above lessons are hard won. But I won’t soon forget them.

As for what happened in Sacramento two weeks ago, here’s my theory: I suspect that I was undertrained for the marathon specifically. When you look back at my training in the fall, it was constantly being interrupted by one thing or another. First it was a two+ week trip to South Africa, which involved days of travel, a large time zone change, eating and drinking a lot of stuff that isn’t on the menu for marathoners in training, and big time stress in the form of all of the above along with the added treat of being a victim of major property crime. Not to mention some terrible workouts due to poor conditions (brutal heat among them).

Then I came home and had a few good weeks only to experience the first of two serious injuries: hamstring pull followed by inflamed tendon. I didn’t give myself time to heal properly from the first, piling on 95 miles after a 52 mile injured week, and the second injury came in to take its place. All told, injuries screwed up my training for close to a month total. So out of a 13 week schedule (3 of which were taper weeks), at least 6 were heavily compromised. For you mathletes, that’s a screwup factor of 60%.

I toed the line in Folsom thinking that there was a good possibility that I might have to settle for a 3:20 or even a 3:25. I might have been able to make that time somewhere else, but not on that course on that day. The downhills chewed up my quads a la Steamtown and the headwinds were just, wow.

This was all on top of whatever was wrong with me in the spring, which for the sake of simplicity let’s say was overtraining. After an amazingly good buildup from the fall into April, I crashed in May. I was a wreck in June and July, then ran in a holding pattern in August and commenced training in September, as described above.

So that was 2009. Good riddance.

2010 will bring some changes. More on that soon.

Fall Training: Week 12

Training, tapering, whatever. All I know is that the race is now close enough for me to check the weather for race day.

With the exception of a couple of quicker workouts, I’m firmly established in the holding pattern of a pre-race taper. The run on Tuesday, a little under marathon pace, actually didn’t go that well. I was surprisingly slow, owing to a mysteriously high heart rate.

I decided not to waste energy freaking out about it. It’s just one workout, right? I’m chalking it up to possible side effects of the drugs I took for my tendon for a week, plus a few nights’ lousy sleep, as well as my being in the follicular phase, which is typically when I run my worst in longer, sustained-effort workouts.

Friday’s session on the track was a blast. I love short intervals, especially when I’m running well. The hormones were in my favor for this one and my pace vs. effort shows it.

The rest of the week consisted of what I call “toodle along” runs. My legs are starting to feel very fresh and springy now, so it’s been difficult to hold them back from running faster.

The problem left tendon is back to normal in terms of appearance and flexibility, although there’s still some pain if I flex it in an extreme way. But I don’t need to do that for marathon pace running. At this point, I’d be surprised if I’m even aware of it during the race.

I was looking over the women’s results from last year’s CIM and was again reminded of just how competitive a race it is. No AG awards for me this time around, but it does look like I should be able to find plenty of people running my pace, whatever that turns out to be. Interestingly, I do see a lot of positive splits in those results. That may be the case in every marathon (I rarely scrutinize such things), but I’m wondering if the early downhills on the course tempt people to run too fast.

I plan to go very minimalist for this race. I’ll have just two data screens on my watch, each with a single readout: Time of Day (so I know when the race starts) and Heart Rate %. That’s it.

Exercise and anxiety

I used to suffer from chronic anxiety. This illness took many forms, the most pervasive of which was my compulsion to worry constantly, envisioning the worst possible outcome of any situation or endeavor. I would also brood, spending hours, days or weeks blowing up the smallest negative interaction into some sort of globally applicable proof of all that was wrong with me, my life and the world. Another delightful side effect was periodic hypochondria. But the crowning feature was the full blown panic attacks I’d suffer every few years, often with several clustered in a short period of time. If you’ve ever had one of these, you’ll know that they are intensely frightening, uncomfortable and exhausting experiences.

For years I attempted to treat this problem through traditional talk therapy. Years. Well over 10. In hindsight, I probably should have tried a more practical variety, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, but, despite rejecting many of its theories (Oedipal complex? please, spare me) I bought the psychoanalytic approach hook, line and sinker.

I don’t feel that those years I spent in the chair were a total waste of time and money. Insofar as I had a sympathetic ear once or twice a week, I think that I was helped in some ways during those years in terms of getting some perspective. But the issue that brought me there in the first place — horrendous anxiety — remained, sometimes abating for a few years at a time, and in the process convincing me that I was over the problem. But it was always a matter of time before it came roaring right back.

I’d been running 15-20 miles per week since the age of 34. Then I started upping the mileage and effort at 39 in training for my first major race, a half marathon. Shortly after I started running more, and running harder, I noticed subtle yet unmistakable changes in mood. Not just the cessation of anxiety attacks (I’d seen that before), but a lifting of the constant dread and chorus of negativity that permeated my inner mental world.

So I ran more, and I ran harder. I got better, both as a runner and in my head. The daily devil of nagging anxiety had at last been banished. I felt so much better that I finally quit therapy, a decision I’d been struggling with for several years. I didn’t need it anymore. That was about four and a half years ago. Not coincidentally, that is the longest I’ve gone between anxiety attacks since I started having them in my preteen years.

I decided to post about this after reading this article in the NY Times, which seems to bring some scientific evidence to bear on my anecdotal experience.

Of course, what this means is that I can probably never stop running. I can live with that.

I’ve seen this sort of thing before

It’s the last month or so before my goal race and, as typically happens, a host of physical issues are suddenly emerging on the horizon like thunderclouds only to recede just as quickly and mysteriously, having spared me from a soaking, or worse, a lightning strike.

Where have I seen this before? Oh, right. During every single previous training season. Looking over my logs of the past few years (you do keep detailed logs, don’t you?), I see that this is something that happens like clockwork in the 4-6 weeks prior to each marathon.

In the spring of 2007, it was chronic shinsplints. In the spring of 2008 it was a torn fascia in my right calf. In the fall of 2008 it was a general malaise that I couldn’t shake for days at a time, almost as if I was on the verge of getting the flu. In the spring of 2009 it was a twofer: a cyst on one of my left foot’s ligaments accompanied by a mysterious pain in my right quads that migrated from quad muscle to quad muscle for a few weeks. (Ironically, the iron/vitamin deficiency and/or overtraining — which eventually did me in — was the one thing I wasn’t accutely aware of.)

This time around is no different, although I’ve learned not to be completely freaked out by each new complaint. Two weeks ago, it was a hamstring pull. Yesterday, it was some sort of odd, painful ligament or tendon issue on the top of my left foot.

I dutifully take my anti-inflammatories, ice and massage the sucker, and hope for the best. If something persists, I go to the orthopedist, who at this point can probably set his watch by my twice-yearly appearances. After a completely unnecessary, “defensive medicine” x-ray, I usually leave with a good dose of cortisone surging through the area in question and a “good luck” on my next race. Did I see him rolling his eyes too?

I’m like a car that starts to belch black smoke from beneath its hood at the tail end of a drive through Death Valley in July. As long as I can make it to Sacramento on December 6 with my radiator, suspension and transmission intact, I’ll be happy.

Fall Training: Weeks 3 and 4

09fall-training-03The next couple of training logs are more for the record than for extensive analysis. I knew my training would be compromised  on the trip to South Africa. Doesn’t that make me sound humorless and obsessed? I know!

If anything, I’m amazed that I managed to run as much as I did, considering that I was drinking to excess nearly every night and part of coordinated holiday movements of six people. Although my mileage was roughly half of the planned mileage for these weeks, I did prioritize the harder miles and dumped recovery miles.

The conditions in South Africa were tough. For one, it was windy to extremely windy most days. I did some of my harder runs into a 15-30mph headwind and the paces reflect that invisible resistance.

Also, as they’re between winter and spring at the moment, the temperatures and humidity swung wildly every few days. One day it would be in the 60s and two days later it was in the 80s. And the sun there is hot. I’m sure that sounds silly, but the proximity to the equator really makes you feel like you’re baking, and I tanned three shades darker in just a week.

Finally, the place has huge hills. If you want to train for Boston or Steamtown, this is the place to go. The hills are up to a mile long and, while the grades aren’t extreme, they are steady.

Week 3 was broken up with travel. Prior to flying there on Wednesday, I did a 15 mile progression run. This went very well. As usual, I wasn’t thrilled with the paces, but I realized I had weeks of training to improve.

Later in the week I focused on trying to recover from 36 hours of travel and some upheaval as we had to suddenly change rental cottages, as the first was next to a grocery store with loud refrigeration units running all night; in the second cottage we would be burgled as the next week’s excitement. Anyway, on Friday we drove 45 minutes to Hermanus on the coast and ran the last three-odd miles of the half marathon course, then had an early dinner out among the Whale Festival revelers.

Saturday was the race, the Whale Half Marathon. A joke race, as Jonathan called it. Despite insane wind and huge hills, we both did well.

On Sunday I went for a little recovery run on my own, during which I met the second love of my life, a female dog named Harvey.

09fall-training-04Week 4 featured some harder efforts, the first of which was an 11 mile tempo run, with the harder miles run straight into a stiff headwind. The next day we went on a 9 mile hike, which was tiring not so much because of the distance or terrain but because of the speed at which we were going. We were hiking very slowly, probably at about half the pace that we could have managed on our own, and by the end of the day I had what felt like “museum legs” — that unique sort of fatigue that sets in after hours of strolling around on marble floors.

We took the next day off to deal with the aftermath of having been burgled and getting our car stolen the evening after the hike. We also needed to get ready for the arrival of two friends of Jonathan’s from his days living here 30 years ago who’d be staying with us for two nights.

The morning before their arrival we went out to do one of my more important workouts — a 21 miler with the last 10 at marathon effort. This was one of the few workouts I’ve actually had to abandon. It was a hot day and we had no way of carrying or obtaining drinkable water, plus we got a late start. By midway through the run the sun was at its strongest and it was about 85 degrees. There was no shade. I did okay for most of the hard miles, but by mile 16 my HR was soaring and my paces were dropping off. Then I started exhibiting the early stages of heat illness with just three miles to go.

I ended up lying under a tree while Jonathan ran back to the cottage (he’d been running an easy pace to my very hard pace) for the car and water. It was the smart thing to do, but a little scary. I was mad at myself because my instincts had told me that we should take the extra half hour to drive to the midway point with some water, but I ignored them.

I was totally fried by this workout for the next couple days, so took the weekend off. We still had several days of holiday making left and I wanted to enjoy the time with family and friends. I had one last hard workout planned before leaving the following week.

In the morning, in the evening, ain’t we got pills

My bathroom sink is beginning to resemble a geriatric’s. But it’s not quite as bad as the one foot square, multi-compartmented “pill pallet” an HIV-positive friend once showed me.

In the morning, I take: 4000 mg (or “four grams” — stupid Americans) of vitamin D and 400 mg magnesium citrate.

In the evening is when the real party happens:

  • Another 400 mg magnesium citrate
  • 27 mg Ferrochel* (iron) — 1.5x this twice a week (on whatever are my heaviest training days)
  • 1000 mg vitamin C
  • 500 mg omega 3
  • Birth control pill
  • Allergy pill
  • Half a 3 mg Lunesta (rarely and only as needed)

Whatever. They’re all working.

* This comes with, as a bonus:
- 60 mg vitamin C
- 200 mcg folic acid
- 60 mcg vitamin B-12
- 48 mg calcium (I’ve not idea why, since calcium impedes iron absorption)

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