Thursday, September 29, 2011

Conclusion to the Neverending Central Park Run

So a couple of days ago I left off talking about the 18 mile Marathon Tune-Up which took place in Central Park. I had just eaten the gel (vom, almost literally). But I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to recover from the strain of more difficult areas of the park like Harlem and Cat Hills. Cat Hill is the worst hill on the East Side. I've only recently come to know it by that name, which is strange since I've been running in the park for three years. I can only assume it's because of the panther (or some other wild cat) statue at the top of a rock wall there.

ANYWAY, the run ended great. I finished in 3:02 and change, which is a good 25 minutes faster than I've ever run this race in the past. I'm still convinced that it was mostly a mental thing. In past years, I've gotten in my head at later miles and taken walking breaks. I'm getting much better at keeping in mind that the more walking I do during a long run or marathon, the longer it will take and the longer it will be before I can eat the crap out of something. This time, I did not lose sight of my end goal.

What I will say about this race is that I ran into a few issues that I've had in the past, but were easier to isolate and identify here. The first was chafing. I should have known better than to wear new clothes on a run of such a long distance. In my defense, though, I thought I had worn this style of short in another long run. They're the Tempo 2 in 1 shorts, so there's a second, tight pair of shorts under the regular baggy ones. The older pair of these that I own are perfect. The inner layer comes down to just above my knee and so I didn't have an issue when I wore them on my long run previously. Unfortunately, these new ones had a much shorter inner layer. For this reason, they kept riding up and exposing my legs to a ginormous chafing hazard. I ran the whole first lap awkwardly pulling my shorts down and running with my toes pointed out just to find some relief. Fortunately, I thought ahead and visited the medical tent just after mile 6 for some Vaseline. That solved the problem (though it did leave me with greasy hands for the remaining 12 miles, but all things considered I can't complain). So that was lesson number 1.

Lesson number 2 may have been discovering the value of well-timed race nutrition. I can barely call it nutrition, because it was not nutritious at all. But the timing of its consumption, I think, was perfect. The night before the race I went to a couple of friends' birthday parties. I was in a rush to get ready and get down to the Lower East Side, so I skipped dinner. Naturally, by 11:40pm this situation needed to be remedied. I was on my way home when I spotted a wild Taco Bell! I know, you're probably all cringing right now because who would ever, EVER eat Taco Bell only hours before an 18 mile race. To that, I respond, "this idiot" and I would indicate myself with a judgmental finger wag. There, I said it. I ate Taco Bell at midnight the night before a huge run.

It was a terrible idea that I think may have helped me during the race. The thing is, normally I don't think at all about nutrition and fueling the day before a race; I only begin to think of that the morning of, when I'm grabbing something to eat while running out the door. Sometimes it's cereal, or reGen, or a bagel, if I do enough planning to have time to acquire one. Occasionally I don't eat anything at all. These poor decisions typically come back to haunt me later in the race because I find myself ravenous around mile 10. Ravenous and lethargic.

Sunday morning was no different. I consumed about 200 calories before the race. Maybe this is enough, but I'm not sure. I think it wasn't considering I didn't eat for the race on Saturday. And I did get hungry during the race, but the hunger faded quickly and I found that, in spite of it, I still had a good amount of energy. I'm starting to wonder if it isn't because I had Taco Bell as late as I did. Now, let me be clear. I am not under the impression that Taco Bell is good pre-race food. I am, however, more aware of just how large of an impact race nutrition can have on my performance. If was ever to repeat this, I would eat something much more wholesome around the same late night time. If that worked out, I might continue doing it. If not, I'd be very cognizant of my meals during the day before.

One bad thing I've been experiencing more often is stomach issues. "Gastric distress," as my friend, Kim, termed it before her wedding. I don't know why but I'm hopeful that it's always been something I've dealt with, only now I'm in tune enough with my body to recognize it.

And again, it's late and I'm tired. I didn't even write about the Team Lipstick run I had today. I guess I'll save it for another day. Good night, all.

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