Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lindsey Got Runover...

I'm trapped in a vicious sugar cycle that has seriously damaged my running mojo. I call it, the runover. What is a runover? A runover is when your body thinks it's hungover after running.

There are few things in this life to which I consider myself an expert. I know a little bit about this and that and just barely enough to survive in this adulty world. However, one topic I'm far to familiar with is the phenomenon known as the hangover. 

The hangover is my cup of tea, my stein of beer, my shot of whiskey. While I can't quote Associated Press style off the top of my head and can barely remember any of Italian language I minored in, here is what I remember from college:
- Never mix liquors
-Liquor + Beer, you're in the clear. Beer before Liquor, never been sicker.
-The more sugar in a drink, the worse you'll feel in the morning
-eat before and after
-it's never a good idea the next day

I can wake up the morning after drinking and immediately gauge my level of hangover. 
Level  1- sober/headache/cranky/sleepy but definitely functional. Drink coffee and water
Level 2- sober/headache/sleepy/tight stomach, drink coffee, water and OJ. 
Level 3- not sober/room spinning/headache/sleepy/hungry, drink coffee, eat something, and OJ. 
Level 4- still drunk/room spinning/headache/hungry/nausea/thirsty/nonstop feeling of wanting to puke, do not drink water or eat, go back to sleep for 4 hours. 
Level 5- Drunker than when you went to bed/room is like a tornado/throwing up everything you've consumed in the past 48 hours and some bile/smells are offensive/ do not drink water, or eat for 7 hours. 

My runovers started the day Lauren and I ran 15 miles together. At the end of our run, I felt great emotionally and mentally but it didn't take long for my stomach to drop and I just knew something was not right. As we limped our way towards the car, I felt more and more like I was waking up with a Level 4, minus the drunk. I had nausea, I was shaky, my stomach was cramping. I've had this happen after races before but it usually passes pretty quickly. I thought it was a combo of endorphins and blood sugar levels.  However, it stuck. I felt sick, hungover sick, the entire ride from Philly to New Jersey. I guzzled water along the way only to throw it back up minutes later. I figured I had not eaten enough the day before or during the run and my blood sugar levels were yelling at me. But I re-tallied and had fueled properly. I made oatmeal that morning with brown sugar and cinnamon and hazelnut coffee.

Then it hit me, I had had a lot of sugar that day in my oatmeal and coffee. I think there was a dessert of some type the night before. My dad once told me (as I fought to hide a Level 4 at the breakfast table during a visit home during college) that SUGAR dehydrates your body and thus causes hangovers. 

And a hangover is essentially dehydration. My body was dehydrated and thus behaving like it was hungover.  I made a mental note to watch sugar consumptions before long runs and to drink more water. I haven't been drinking enough water since the temperatures dropped. I guess since it's not warm, I don't assume thirst? The 15 mile runover passed quickly enough and soon I was devouring my dinner and back to feeling proud of my accomplishment. 

I thought the runovers would be a long-run only occurrence. I thought I was safe since I didn't foresee any double digit runs in my near future. I went on my merry runner way. It's cold and I see no reason to run outside when there is a chance your sweat will freeze\ to your face, so I've been sentenced to months of treadmill running.

And, apparently, runovers. A few nights ago, I powered out a glorious 5 mile tempo run (1 mile at 6.0, 1 mile at 6.3, 2 miles at 6.5, .5 miles at 6.3, .5 at 6.5). I felt awesome. I came home, chugged some water, made a smoothie, sat down to stretch, and it happened.... The Run Over. The spinning room, the nausea, the headache. I got a shower and went to bed. I was runover the past four times I have run. I've drank water before and after.  I've decreased the intensity which is hard to do on a boring dreadmill. It even happened on an easy 4 miler I attempted to squeeze in at my parents on Christmas eve. 

My sugar consumption has skyrocketed this month thanks to the wonder  that is Christmas cookies and my renewed love of Pop-tarts. It's the only change in my diet. And just like my body has an unpleasant physical reaction when some one asks me if I want do a shot or drink any form of whiskey or tequila, my running self is now afraid of the runover. I don't 'booze' nearly as much as I used to because I hate the hangovers and now they've invaded my running world! 

It's interesting how a minor increase in a small ingredient can have such a drastic impact on my body. I'm almost hesitant to believe that an extra scoop of sugar can wreck my system and wonder if there are any other factors at play. 

Any ideas, Blogworld? Has anyone ever experienced this? Is it just dehydration? Why didn't I feel this way during the summer when I was running longer distances and sweating more? I want to run again without the fear of spinning rooms and toilet hugging. 

Disclaimer: I'm not an alcoholic or a lush by any means. My alcohol consumption habits have always been on par with those in my age group. I drank a little in high school. Sorry, Mom and Dad. I drank a lot in college. Sorry, Liver. And while there have been some crazy bad-decision juiced moments since college, I've calmed down considerably and allocate any booze to weekends., I drank like a college student in college and now drink like a responsible 28 year-old. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pimpin' Ain't Easy....

Ok, seriously. I don't know how polygamists do this!

Running is my significant other. For the purposes of this analogy, consider it to be my husband or wife. I think wife may work better. Running has my heart, and always will. The medals on my wall and callouses on my feet are our eternal bound.

Karate is my dirty mistress. My little somethin' somethin' on the side to keep things interesting. Running knows about karate and that it's mostly a physical thing. Running is fine with that because it makes me a better runner. I spend time with karate on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and do my running thing on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. Sunday, we rest. All parties involved have been happy with this arrangement until recently.

I've been spending more time with karate than running lately and a lot of that is weather and time related. It doesn't mean I love running any less, it's just cold. I feel bad but again running doesn't mind. It understands that it takes up a lot of time and can be rough on me. We appreciate our time apart because we just have that much more fun when we're together. Running and I are tight like that.

Lately, my mistress is getting a bit needy. Karate wants me to leave running! Well, it never actually said that but I know what it's thinking.
For a few months, the conversation between karate and I went like this:
Karate: We need to get you sparring gear.
Me: But I don't wanna spar.
Karate: It's fun.
Me: I do not want to spar.
Karate: For me, please? Just come watch. I'll be your best friend.
Me: I don't wanna spar. Look, change of subject.  

I approached karate about this. I said I needed new gloves because I lost mine. Karate seems to think "I need new gloves" means "I want to be here more and therefore need new stuff." Next thing I know, I'm buying a car payment's worth of sparring gear .I'm fairly sure this is the equivalent of getting pregnant to keep a guy.  Seriously. I can't leave karate now, I'm an orange belt and I have a giant bag full of new clothes to wear. Clothes = padded vests and knee pads.

Starting in January, I'll be going back to graduate school, increasing my already stressful work load at my full-time job and attempting to train for a pretty intense challenge in Florida with aspirations for a marathon(!) in the fall. Tell me, when am I going to be able to raise this sparring baby with karate? When? Karate tried the old, 'but other people have full schedules and sparring babies too," and "but running is so old and doesn't get you like I do" and "you promised me you'd get your black belt." 

I'm sorry, karate, I never said I wanted a black belt. I wanted to be a ninja. I made my intentions clear from the beginning. I feel torn because I do enjoy karate. I don't want to quit or walk away.
I need to reason with karate and find a way to build on my skills while maintaining a balanced schedule and achieving all the goals I have. I also need to evaluate our relationship. I need to reaffirm and spend more time with running. It's definitely being neglected lately.
There is a physical, tangible release that comes from actually getting to punch and kick things (safely and without fear of human resources or police interference) that cannot be found with running. There are very few people in my life whose face has not appeared on that punching bag or kicking paddle. Karate is loud. It's in your face, it's fun. It's anger management in it's purest form.
Running is quiet. Running is long stretches of a determined silence. Running is just me, my thoughts and my feet. There is also a release that comes in thinking through the stress, in plotting, rationalizing and strategizeing and telling people off in your head.

This is hard! I love them both but want the long-term commitment with running and short-term with karate. Pimpin' ain't easy. Fo' real.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Still Believe in Santa.

This post has nothing to do with running or Cliff Lee's triumpthant return to the Philadelphia Phillies.

I still believe in Santa. I own this fivilous belief and embrace it's absurbity. I love it and I love Santa. I see parents with carts full of toys and make myself think they're just for neices and nephews. Though it is one of my favorite traditions, my heart still breaks every Christmas Eve when my brother-in-law and dad get the kids' gifts out of hiding and lay them out by the tree. I refuse to help (too much) and won't eat the treats left out because those are for the reindeer. They are. I have anxiety about where the letters to Santa actually go when they get to the post office. I think my worst fear would be accidentally telling a child the devastating truth about Santa. I couldn't do that, and I don't like kids all that much.

Is it wrong to allow children to think that a man magically appears to every single household in the world and leaves them exactly what they asked for and does the same for everyone? It's no more wrong than making girls think they can only like pink and be pretty and boys have to like sports and never cry. When you consider the other tales and false truths we pump into our childrens' minds throughout their lives via actions or media, the hope and joy in reward seems quite reasonable.

The myth of Santa and his elves watching over us, seeing our good deeds and bad deeds is an interesting thought. As children, it made us behave. We listened to our parents especially during those final months of the year, we were nice. It was a tool to teach us morality and values. Right, wrong, nice, naughty. I find no harm in believing that if we're good all year, we will be rewarded. We do so much based on this single principle, hard work = reward and often this equation doesn't work out.

As adults, we know the truth about Santa; we also know so many other disappointing truths. Hard work is not always rewarded. Being good may not always get you what you want. Being bad won't either. When you ask kids what they want for Christmas, you get material responses, dolls, toys, books, electronic whatevs. Adults want the material things too but I think if you ask many grown ups, they'd all ask for an intangible. People want more money (need more), we ask for health, we ask for forgiveness. We ask for happiness. We ask for love. We ask for our children to be ok, for our lives to be better. For all those things that being good and working hard still sometimes can't deliver in the ways we want.

When I was a kid, I believed that not fighting with my siblings, listening to my parents, doing my homework, helping with my chores, being nice to others, not getting into trouble at school were all the things that Santa would consider "good."

I'm like somewhat of an adult now and my definition of good has completely changed. I stopped not listening to my mom years ago. It took me about 28 years to comprehend that my mom is always right and/or knows what to do. I don't fight with my siblings anymore because I kind of like them and my brother finally started letting me sit in the front seat in the car. I define good now by eating well, by sticking to a schedule, making good choices, by completing to-do lists, by paying bills. All of these things do have benefits and rewards. But rarely are they as fun as getting a freebie gift under a tree for no reason other than someone loves me enough to let me believe in a myth. You can't unwrap good credit and a done to-do list is not a great stocking stuffer.

For the next two weeks, I'm going eat super well and play nice with my coworkers and I won't yell at other drivers and I will try not to curse as much. Because I'm fully expecting/wishing/hoping that Santa brings me the Lost Series Set DVDs.

So yes, I still believe in Santa because I don't always have faith in everything else.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Farthest v. Furthest, oh who cares. I ran a long way!

I ran 15 miles on Saturday. In runnery world, that is what we call a Personal Distance Record. I'm calling it my best run ever. I say ever a lot but I really mean it this time. I've run 13.1 miles seven times, but never a foot more than that pesky one-tenth of mile. I take the term "finish line" very seriously.

Lauren and I are a good running duo. We both share a hatred of hills, maintain a similar pace (she's definitely faster and more experienced), like to set out with a goal and course in mind and have lots to talk about. When I asked her if she'd be interested in doing a long run this weekend, I had an easy 8 or 10 miler in mind. After all, she did just complete her first full marathon not even a month ago. One would assume that she'd either never want to run again. Wrong. She came back with the suggestion of 15 so she could keep her mileage at about 40/week and thus avoid any holiday/cookie guilt. And you all thought I was nuts.

My first reaction wasn't an immediate no. Ok, my first reaction was considering having my friend committed. The inspirations of the NYC and Philadelphia Marathons have gotten the wheels moving in my head towards the epic 26.2. I'm no longer afraid but apprehensive about training and time. This 15 opportunity really hit at the perfect time. I struck a deal with Lauren that I would make it to 12 miles and every thing after that would be bonus.

Oh, and I wouldn't have to buy her a Christmas gift.

Because of my trepidation about the mileage, we had to plot our course carefully. I wanted to retrace the first half of the Philly Marathon. It started in front of the Art Museum---through Center City, along the Delaware River, up through University City, to Girard Ave, through Fairmount Park and eventually looping back to the Art Museum. All things in Philadelphia begin and end at the Art Museum, you can blame or thank Rocky for that. I figured we'd do a solid 13 and she could continue down Kelly Drive to get the full 15 if I chickened out.

Lauren informed me that the Fairmount Park part was one biiiiiig hill and thus that option was removed. We've run the Art Museum/ Kelly Drive/ West River Drive loop too many times and are 'over it.' We decided to head in the opposite direction for an hour and then figure it out. We had no map or route, just figured we'd see where that went.
 We headed south on the Schuylkill River Trail. Our pace was brisk and spirits high. Saturday was a perfect day for running. It was chilly but not cold. The wind was silent and the sun was kind.After 2 miles and the end of the trail, we hung a left and went down Locust Street. We followed Locust Street from 25th through Rittenhouse, past Thomas Jefferson and decided to head towards Penns Landing. We did our fair share of stopping at red lights, dodging shoppers, pointing out various landmarks, jumping potholes, and admiring the scenery.

We came to Penns Landing feeling great. The Ben Franklin Bridge was taunting us. We both looked at it, looked at each other, did that raised eyebrow thing and then decided not to anyway. Someday, we will run to Jersey, but not that day. We decided to check out the new Sugar House Casino by Northern Liberties and headed north along Delaware Ave. The scenery and smells definitely changed during this leg of the journey. After being underwhelmed by the monstrosity that is Sugar House, we turned around because it was also the end of 'safe running zone.'

We headed back and turned up Race Street.We took Race to South Street, to Broad Street, through City Hall, where we got yelled at for running through a Christmas festival and I did my trademark discreet flip-o-the-bird, up Market Street towards 30th Street station. It was fun to tell stories of first dates and crazy nights while running (sober) through Old City and South Street.

We were at about 9 miles at this point and I was feeling good. My legs were definitely sore from Friday evening's karate class and my feet were puffing out. But, nothing crazy bad. I was expecting my stomach to start revolting or those negative thoughts in my head to start up. But, neither happened. We picked up the Schuylkill River Train again and turned back towards the Art Museum area.

When we came up on 11 miles, I was feeling good but I didn't know if I could last another 4 miles. I remembered the deal I had with Lauren that I didn't have to do the full 15. I decided that I was definitely going to 13. Our conversation had increased while our pace slightly decreased.

At mile 12 the soreness in my legs started to become a tightness, pulling on every muscle in the back of my legs. But, I was determined. Just 3 more miles.

When my Garmin beeped on the 13th mile, I couldn't believe it. We were no where near a PR time and despite the pain in my legs, I could keep going. We were surprisingly maintaining an average 10min/mile pace. I did ask to stop for a stretch break and from miles 13 to 15 there were several stretch and then walk to the lamppost type moments. We decided to make it to the the 2 mile boat house, turn back and run until the garmin said 15. I was happy that every time I checked my watch, another half mile had passed. We hit 15 at the plaza/fountain area with the statues of people know one knows about. (The only statues that matters in our city are William Penn and Rocky.) We stopped, high fived and then bemoaned the 1.5mile walk back to the car.

As soon as we stopped running, my legs went from sore and tight to weak and jelly-like. My stomach also decided to come to life. We also realized that it was cold and our clothes were wet. I dropped my water bottle at one point and it took a good 90 seconds to pick it up. I was hit with the runner's cocktail of pain and pride with a side of nausea. No sooner had I finished saying that eating ShotBlocks at mile 8 really helped me then my head got really light, the world started to spin and I knew I'd be in for a few hours of unpleasant.

Our 15 mile run had somehow triggered a hangover. For about two hours afterward, I was hungover. It was, actually, dehydration caused by too much sugar, not enough carbs or electrolytes, possibly stale ShotBlocks and well, just plain running. But it presented itself in the same manner as a hangover does but with less room spinning and more stretching. I had two 'revisits' with some of the water I had drank but was fine afterward. I all put licked my plate clean at dinner that evening and have been eating cookies nonstop since.

I was amazed how easy it was to wrap my brain around 15 and then do it. Lauren made the excellent point that races, from 5Ks to fulls, put a lot of pressure on us so that the enjoyment of just running is sometimes overlooked by the pursuit of a personal record. On Saturday, two friends set out with a common goal and (one of them) went further than she thought she could. I didn't get a medal from a smiling volunteer; there was no t-shirt. There were no mile markers or fan fare. This experience gave me the confidence and reassurance that I can handle marathon training--when it's time.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Since You're Behind...How's Mine?

I'll admit that I've been lacking in the running motivation department lately. I'm not training for any races or adventures and have been focusing getting my orange belt in karate.

And it's really cold out! And it's dark in the mornings. And at night. And and and...I don't wanna!!

I've been digging deep into my bag of tricks to get my butt out the door. If I need to do a morning run, I've found that sleeping in the base layer of my running gear definitely helps. The spandex are sometimes daunting enough to turn the alarm off. Because who in their right mind would want to wake up at 5 am to put on incredibly tight clothes?

Righteous Runner TIP of the YEAR-- set your coffee timer the night before. If you do nothing else, make sure that there is a fresh pot brewed and waiting for you. My coffee maker, or miracle machine as I like to call it, is really loud and wakes me up more than my many many alarms. I may be angry at the miracle machine but I do love it's juice. When it's cold out, any warmth is good.

Coffee is made, clothes are on. No excuse now, get to running! Wait, it's cold and dark. Interestingly--since I started taking karate and self-defense classes, I'm more afraid of the dark than ever. I still can't figure out a way around the cold darkness aside from bundle up and be careful. I sometimes like to pretend I'm Helios, the Greek god who dragged the Sun across the sky. It'll be light when you're finished and you can feel a secret smugness throughout the day that you already exercised.

Tonight, I felt particularly unmotivated to run. After getting home late from work with a full briefcase of more work to do, all I really wanted to do was flop on my bed. And eat peanut butter. My tummy hurt and my brain was done. I was about to surrender to the couch when I remembered something.

I got a new shirt. After the Thanksgiving Half Marathon, I treated myself to an obnoxious dryfit running shirt from the super fancy Nike store in the super fancy Lenox Mall. It's purple. On the front in obnoxiously large font, it screams SINCE YOU'RE BEHIND and on the bottom of the back, in smaller font, HOW'S MINE?. I usually stick to race tees or plain Old Navy tees for running but this one made me smile. I wanted to save it for some kind of running occasion but desperate times call for desperate measures.

See cool shirt here, but picture me in it. :-)

I thought to myself, "Lindsey, you can wear your funny new shirt if you go to the gym. And you could even wear your Old Navy running pants with the purple lining."

Fine! I'll go to the gym and run since I have a new outfit. Fine. It's cold, I'm tired but I have a new shirt. Divas and funny women for centuries have been saying it for year. Sometimes, the outfit just makes it happen.

When you can't do something truly useful, you tend to vent the pent up energy in something useless but available, like snappy dressing. ~Lois McMaster Bujold

What a strange power there is in clothing. ~Isaac Bashevis Singer

I'm sure there is a Sex and the City quote out there for the occasion. I'd go try to find it but I just ran 6 miles at 9:30 pm and have two frosty bags of veggies on my knees. So, use your imagination.

Moral of the story, get creative and dig deal for whatever the hell motivation that is needed to get out of bed. The spandex pjs and goofy shirts make me laugh at myself as I pound out the miles. And that's all that matters, right?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Runner Confession and A Runner Rant

Here's a little confession for y'all:

This has happened to me several times recently. It's really silly.

If I put my pony tail too high on the back of my head and pull it the whole way through, it swings around as I run. Inevitably it will swing forward and hit my shoulder or back. And I will inevitably get startled and jump.

every. single. time.

Usually after about three mini-heart attacks and a mental run down of the defense moves I'd use to fend off the person who could be behind me before realizing it's my own stupid self, I'll pause my watch and redo the perilous pony tail.

My list of imaginary dangers while running now includes bears and my own hair. 

Despite my claims of being a running ninja, I'm actually quite cowardly when I'm out on the road solo. Everything scares me. I've had to remove the following songs from my playlist for terror alerts
Thriller- Micheal Jackson
Magic- David Bowie
No One- Alicia Keys (emotional terror)
Out loud- Dispatch

I think car headlights are swerving off the road and coming right at me. Even if the car is on the other side of the road and there is a body of water between us. I assume that all deer are waiting to be on "When Animals Attack."

And now, for the rant.

I do love my town. It's small, quaint, close to everything and has a Starbucks. I love the centrally located Wawa with it's faithful team of lifers and disgruntled teenagers who provide me with breakfast and dinner multiple times a week. I'm curious about the high concentration of day spas, hair studios and nail salons along the one mile strip that is Main Street and surrounding strip malls. As I strained my eyes and arranged my living will on my pitch black 5:30 am run this morning, I realized the one thing this lovely little yuppie town needs is STREET LIGHTS! They have wonderfully wide walking trails lining the McMansion developments and overpriced Condo Communities, but nary a streetlamp is to be found. Sure, Heacock Meadows and WeThinkWe're Royal Farms developments have tennis courts, pools, ample parking, high property taxes and neighborhood watches, but can we get a streetlamp so that the lonely little morning runners or late nighters can SEE. Perhaps if there were streetlamps along the perimeters of the residential zones, the gaggle of unsupervised tweens that populate the 'streets' would relocate closer to their mother ships and stop skateboarding in front of my house. I sound really really old there, I know.

Perhaps there are no streetlamps along the walking trails because they are not in the "Borough." This area is unlike I've ever seen where people introduce their town and immediately distinguish borough or the name of the development. A typical  introductory conversation would go,
Local: Where do you live?
Me: I'm in Yardley.
Local: In the borough?

Me: Huh?
Local: I'm on Big Oak Road in WashingtonWasNearHere Once. Do you know where nail salon Number 45 is? It's close to that.

So, Yardley, proper? Or Yardely McMansionville, or Lower Makefeild or whatever you call yourselves to feel superior to us town dwellers, please invest less in your nails and more in streetlamps. Thank you.