19 March 2013

Week 5!

I learned so much last week! In a way I'm glad Week 5 is over because it brought with it some really messy lessons. Warning! I'm going to "talk shit" later. And menstruation too.

Last Tuesday, I did my speedwork on the treadmill. The snow hadn't melted from the previous week, so I ran in the gym with my two favorite running ladies, Lynne and Ruth. We did 7x800 repeats. It was the toughest speedwork I've done since last summer, when I was training for my mile race and did all my speedwork (twice a week) at 7:00 pace. Granted, I hardly did any 800s, since that was half as long as the race itself, but I digress. The point is, this speed session was tough! Towards the end, I could barely talk, which was awesome. I love working hard.

On Friday I had the worst PMS ever. I probably say that every month, but some months seem worse than others. Let's just say the timing of my second goal race pace run wasn't ideal. I had to do 4 miles at 8:24 (super fast for me) with some easy milage on either end. It started out okay, but I became so fixated on my Garmin, and crazy angry when it didn't seem to be working right, that I let it ruin the rest of the run. It was classic angry PMS-Portia. I finished on pace but felt like a complete failure. I'd been obsessed with all the wrong things, and I hadn't enjoyed the run at all.

Erin helped me snap out of it. She said I should be enjoying runs, not freaking out about them. I shouldn't worry so much about my exact pace for each mile, that it was the overall pace that mattered more. She admonished me to try for a hard effort and focus more on how it felt than what the watch said. Since I was running outside, I should expect some miles would be slower and some faster. I got my head back on straight and was ready to face the next run.

And I started bleeding. That helped too.

On Saturday, Sean did a 31-mile training run, nbd. It's his longest training run for his 100-mile race at the end of April. He's a monster. In a good way. Maple and I drove downtown to meet him at the halfway point. He looked surprisingly good, and when he got home a few hours later, he looked fresh as a daisy. That's just wrong. Maple and I did a watchless 4-miler while he was gone. She's amazing. No running for months and she hops off the couch and runs four miles.

My long run on Sunday was a 12-miler; my longest since Disney. That's weird, what a slacker I am! Anyway, I felt great on this run, with the exception of my stomach. To be fair, it was fine when I left the house. I have been experimenting with fueling strategies, so I had some Accel Gels with me on the run, which I'd never taken before. The Marathon Nutrition book I just read suggested that some runners like a little protein with their carbs. Accel Gels have whey in them, which didn't sound appetizing but I wanted to try it anyway. I took one around mile 4, and by mile 7 I found myself on a picturesque little lane in Wellesley, surrounded by huge beautiful houses, shitting my pants standing up. Also I was holding a tree branch out of my face. I was trying so hard not to lose control of my bowels that I couldn't move one centimeter, and somehow I'd stopped too close to a tree. Such is the life of a runner.

It only got worse from there. There were a few more typical pit stops which involved squatting in the leafless woods, hoping passing cars couldn't see me but knowing they probably could. There was an unfortunate lack of toilet paper or pliable leaves, and there were random hip cramps that made it very hard to keep moving. There was the horrid scent of failure. Finally, there was a severe energy crash (I was afraid to take another Accel Gel), which coincided with a huge hill. At one point I was imagining the conversation I'd have to have with Erin, explaining why I only ran 9 miles. Somehow (!?) I got it done. I don't know if it was my crazy Garmin, but my average pace was respectable - about 10:01.

When I got home, I expected Sean to be dropping off Maple at a play, so I was surprised to see him when I walked in the door. I burst into tears and sobbed like a very smelly lunatic. Sean helped me calm down and I quickly put the run behind me. It wasn't a complete failure - my pace was decent, my energy was good until I ran out of fuel, and I'd experimented with a new brand of gel and found that it didn't work for me! Information = power!

Also I wasn't constipated anymore.

So what have I learned? Running should be enjoyable. The Garmin isn't God. Accel Gels make my stomach explode. No whey!

It's getting late and this post is getting looooong, so I'll wrap this up. But I'm very excited to report that Green Girl nominated me for a Leibster award, which I'll tell you more about next time. Thanks Green Girl!


  1. Great advice to not freak out about running and hitting paces. I am completely guilty of this. I'm already freaking out about a marathon pace run I have to do tomorrow! I like what Erin/you said to focus on how it feels and the effort vs. exact pace. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Oh no about the Accel Gels! I know a lot of folks have trouble with the protein during a run. Good you at least found out now rather than later :( I actually had trouble before with Accelerade on a run, I just felt nauseated throughout the whole run when I used it. That was over a year ago and I stayed away from the idea of protein on runs since, but oddly enough the gels have been ok for me. We're all so different with what works and what doesn't. And menstrual runs are never fun :( I had the beast during last weeks 18 miler. Blech!

  3. Sean O'CallaghanMarch 20, 2013 at 8:05 AM

    i love the image of you standing quite still holding a tree branch while making an ass smoothie, like if twin peaks had an athletic character - perhaps the "log lady" has a daughter?

  4. Beth - I hope your pace run goes great tomorrow!
    Christina - What have you found that works for you? Sean got me a new type of fuel that I plan to try on my next run. I'll be sure to write about it here. Hopefully without so many gory details.
    Sean - Yes! I am the Branch Babe.

  5. Portia - I have found so far that if I start off with a bowl of oatmeal about an hour before, then use Hammer Gels up to mile 8, I'm good. Unfortunately for me, I seem to get super hungry by mile 10 so I've been using the Accel Gels because they do have the protein. It seems to help ward off the massive hunger that sets in for me. But I tried it carefully, only one first, because I was nervous I would have issues as you wrote about. So far I'm ok with it, but I'm getting ready to try them again today so we'll see. I also have been liking the Honey Stinger chews, they are a nice change from the gel when you get tired of the gels and I like their taste and texture better than Clif Shot Bloks. Sometimes I like Sport Beans as a hard option too, but I don't know if they really are as helpful to me. I feel I get better results with the Honey Stinger chews, comparing the two. (Sorry, I answered with a novel, haha)

  6. Ah this post is great! We all deal with weird stomach issues on our long runs so why not talk about it more? I'm all for it! Also, I totally got my period the morning of the Providence marathon last year. I ran with a tampon taped to the back of my bib!

  7. Thanks Alice! I obviously feel that way too - that people should talk about these issues! Glad to find a kindred spirit.
    That's awesome that you ran with a tampon taped to your bib. I didn't want to write about it in this post, but since I had my period when I had my "accident", there was an unfortunate relationship between my poop and my tampon string. I heard once that strippers cut their tampon strings when they are "working" - I wonder if I should start doing that...

  8. Christina - don't worry, novels are welcome in my comments. :) I like the chewy things, but when I'm running I have trouble chewing and I worry that I'm going to choke on half-chewed chews. So I think I will stick to the gels. I'm going to try a new one this weekend - I'll let you know how it goes...