Missoula’s Naked Bike Ride Saved me from Heat Stroke

I know I haven’t posted in a rather long time. I’ve really been meaning to get back into regular posting, and today’s events seemed like a great reason to get started.

Let me back up here, so this story actually makes sense.

My plan for today was to run 12ish miles. This would keep me on schedule in preparing for the Sweathouse Half. Also, I really want to keep my miles up at least at the “I could run a half marathon on a whim” level. However, since I also ended up planning to run alone, I slept in and had a leisurely morning, thus getting started rather late (11am). That was my first mistake.

I had mapped a route for myself that would take me on a 5.5 mile loop back to my house and then a 6.5 mile loop to finish up. I brought along my 18oz Nathan SpeedDraw bottle, thinking that refilling it when I came back by the house would be enough. Since I had around 1/4 of a bottle left when I stopped at my house, I didn’t have any idea just how wrong I was about that.

I started to struggle around mile 8. At first I just assumed that my problem was mostly because I was running on my own, rather than with my group, and thus feeling less motivated, and paying too much attention to negative physical sensations. Then I noticed I was starting to run low on water.

I was very determined to finish, though, so I kept struggling along. I took a few extra walk breaks, and kept my eyes peeled for sprinklers. I was not in luck.

Eventually, around mile 9.5 I stopped in a shady spot near flowing water and wet myself down as best I could. I rested in the shade and cooled off. But I still had 2.5 miles to go and had a few sips of water left at most. I was feeling a bit weak and had a mild headache, and suspected I wasn’t sweating as much as I had been, which I knew were bad signs. So I walked on. I figured running would heat me up too much, and without water, that would be a mistake.

At mile 10 I texted a friend and let him know I was having some difficulty. I specified that I would keep in touch, and that if I failed to do so, he should come find me or send help.

Not long after that, I had a lucky break. I spotted a woman* outside a house, in workout clothes and I knew I was saved. I asked if I could fill my water bottle, and got ice water, which was probably the best tasting, coldest water I’ve ever had in my entire life. I walked and drank and in very short order, I actually felt good enough to add some run segments back in.

In under a mile I had mostly drained my water bottle, so I stopped at a local plant nusery and refilled again there.

From there, I took it easy and went pretty slow. I kept in touch with my friend via text, keeping him apprised of where I was and how I was feeling. And then I was home. I immediately stuffed protein and carbs into my face, along with water. (I’d been taking in sugar and electrolytes on my run, as well.)

So I’m sure you’re wondering what any of this has to do with Missoula’s inaugural Naked Bike Ride. So I’ll tell you.

As it happens, I had forgotten that today was the day of the Naked Bike Ride. I don’t really see the appeal myself, but I think it’s great if people want to do it. But as I was running along on the first loop of my run, I passed by some people who were on their way home from the naked bike ride, still naked.

After realizing that this show of boobs and penises had not brought on any sort of apocalypse**, I considered that perhaps, I didn’t really need a shirt to run in. It was hot and muggy and I was wearing a nice running bra, so I decided that if Missoula could handle some naked cyclists, they could surely handle my white, somewhat giggly belly.

So right around the 3 mile mark I took my shirt off, tucked it into my Spibelt, and off I went. And you know what? The world didn’t end.

When I stopped at my house to refill my water bottle, I went ahead and put sunscreen on my newly exposed skin, as well as reapplying on my arms and face.

I’m pretty sure that having my shirt off helped me keep cooler than I would have been otherwise. I believe I would have been fine running 6 miles with my shirt on. Had I left it on, I would have stopped at my house, filled my water bottle and gone on my way. By mile 8 I would have either taken my shirt off, risking some serious sunburn, more likely would have left it on and been even lower on water (both from drinking it and dumping it on myself) and been significantly more overheated than I was with it off.

So all in all, today’s Naked Bike Ride probably had very little impact on the community as a whole. But for me personally, first it gave me a little lesson in body acceptance***, and then, it saved me from heat stroke (or possibly just a bad case of dehydration, but I’m going with heatstroke). 

For information on the symptoms of heat related illnesses and all sorts of other related info, check out this page.

Hopefully I’ll be back soon to update you on all of the goals I had to put off and what my newest goals are, and why. In the mean time, run happy!

 

*Let’s face it, with the assault situation in this town lately, there was no way I was asking a strange man for help. I’d have called for an ambulance first. That’s really sad.

**Because of course it didn’t.

***And below is an “Honest Selfie” to go along with that.

*****Please don’t give me any grief about not having called for a ride home or something. If I’d actually thought I was in danger, I would have.

Me, in my running bra, after a brush with heat issues.

Me, in my running bra, after a brush with heat issues.

Update and Goals

I ran the 8K Book’n It for the Library race yesterday. Going into it I was tired and my legs are still tight (this is my own fault) since the marathon, so I didn’t expect a great performance from myself. It wasn’t chip timed and I don’t think our times have been posted online yet, so I don’t know how it compares to the only other 8K I’ve ever run, the Turkey Day 8K. My big goal for the day was to beat Bob (our 86 year old local running legend), which I did. It was a fun race.

What I learned (or re-learned) from the race was that I don’t know how to run short races. Short races are actually more difficult for me in a way. By short I mean anything below a half marathon distance. When I run marathons or half marathons I know how to pace myself, but with a short 8K race I’ve got no idea. It’s a short distance so I should be able to go out faster from the beginning, right? But how much faster? And since I have so successfully avoided doing any speed work all this time, I really have no clue how fast I can run.

Which leads me to the giant jumble of goals I’ve got to sort out. I think I have too many to tackle all at the same time.

First off, I realize that doing some speed work would be good for me. If nothing else, it would help me in these shorter races. Second, I need to start training for the Blue Mountain 30K. I’m neither a trail runner nor much of a hill runner, so I really need to get on that. And since it’s a 30K I’d like to just keep a decent distance base rather than having to train back up. I have also had an idea in my head to start doing some back to back weekend runs to help improve my recovery. And I’m trying to decide which races to run this fall. I really like the Sweathouse Half, but does it fit into my training for Blue Mountain? And I’m registered for Diva Day this year, and have the most perfect costume. But it’s right after Blue Mountain. I will probably be very slow.

I feel really lucky to live in a community where one of my “problems” is that there are just too many races to choose from. That seems like a good problem to have.

Also, I need to find the motivation to do core and upper body strength work. I was so good for the first 1/2 or 2/3 of Marathon training last year, but since then I’ve been terrible and that needs to change.

So to recap the goals:
Speed work
Hills and trails
Maintaining distance base
Back to Backs
Upper body and core strength

It doesn’t look that overwhelming on the screen, but I haven’t yet needed to draw up my own training plan, so I’m not sure where to start.

Additionally I’ve decided that at some point I’d like to run the Missoula Half Marathon, but I don’t want to do it unless I’ve done or have registered for a full somewhere else that same summer. (Apparently I have to do at least one full marathon each year. Or so my brain tells me.) So I’m looking for affordable marathons in other cities, particularly cities where I have friends who might be willing to put me up for a night or three.

So as you can see, I have no shortage of goals at the moment. This may be why I didn’t experience the blues after the marathon this year.

I’ll probably be tracking some of these goals here, as I go along. So check back if that sort of thing is of interest to you. In the mean time, enjoy running!

Not a Fluke – My new Best Marathon Ever – Missoula 2013

I feel incredibly lucky to live in a community that hosts a great marathon each year, and is also home to such an amazing and supportive running community.

This year, I started out the marathon running with several of my running buddies from class including my pace group leader from last year who has been in the training class for three years, but was injured for his first two. This year he made it all the way through to the finish line and I was honestly even more excited about that, than I was about finishing myself.

Early on in the race we were passed by Jeff Galloway, who is responsible for popularizing the Galloway run/walk/run method that enabled us to run the marathon.

Jeff Galloway, running past in his trash bag.

Jeff Galloway, running past in his trash bag.

It was actually pretty cool to see him go by and get a chance to see a little bit of his running form (what wasn’t obscured by the trash bag, anyway) in action. He takes really small, quick steps. It was also cool to see someone who has made what appears to be an amazing career out of traveling around the world, running marathons and helping other people achieve that goal, but isn’t too proud to don a trash bag at the start of a race and throw it off after warming up.

In the early part of the race I tried to take quite a few pictures. Last year I didn’t have a good camera with me, so I was determined to get some good photos for this blog this year. The biggest problem with that is that I’m not actually a very good photographer. But here you go anyway.

This is where I get to live and run. Jealous?

This is where I get to live and run. Jealous?

Somewhere during the first few miles of the race, we were joined by four other Galloway runners from other states. Two were 50 Staters and two were Marathon Maniacs. It was really great to chat with them and hear their stories. I’ve been saying often lately that if anybody had ever told me that marathons could be a social experience, I wouldn’t have believed them. But they can be, at least for us slow runners. We get to meet awesome people from around the country and around the world. Joining groups like the Maniacs, the 50 Staters and even just the family of Galloway runners can make it even more social by giving you something in common to bond over. We even passed Negative Ned, who you may remember from last year. I recognized him as we went by and was really glad to see that he’d already latched on to someone else. I hope he had something positive to talk about with that person.

horseback

Not even the first people we saw on horseback.

I really love this race and the race course. It’s beautiful and fun. I don’t know much about other marathons yet, as I haven’t run any others. I might be wrong in assuming that not many other races have people sitting on horseback cheering the runners on.

The best cloud that ever clouded.

The best cloud that ever clouded.

Our race day weather was really wonderful. The morning started with cool temps in the low 50s and warmed up slowly. I actually wore a fleece vest for the first couple of miles and some of my buddies wore “throw away clothes” as well. Later in the morning as we climbed the hill at Big Flat Road, we were gifted with a large, fluffy cloud. It kept the sun off of us during a part of the race that can be quite warm for the runners. I loved that cloud so much that I had to take a picture of it. That could is my favorite cloud of all time.

motivationalsign

The most straight forward sign.

Also on that same stretch of road, we came across this sign, which made me laugh out loud. Perhaps it was the fantastic weather, or having so much great company, or the fact that I felt more confident about my ability to run a marathon this year, but I had a truly great time. I usually enjoy races, but this one stands out. Through the whole race I just felt so lucky to live and run in such a beautiful place with so many supportive, wonderful people. Even when I started to feel my aches and pains, my happiness didn’t diminish.

Do other marathons have people playing a piano on a lawn? Ours does. It’s pretty cool.

piano

Beautiful music for a beautiful day.

Not long after this I apparently stopped taking pictures. I suppose I was a bit too focused on other things at that point. It’s a shame, really, because we ran through some really beautiful parts of town.

Somewhere around miles 18 to 20 our group started to break apart. Some of us needed to slow down. Slowly, over the next few miles our group thinned out more and more until there was just one other runner, Jody, with me. Jody and I chatted and kept each other going. We pointed each other to nearly every sprikler we went past. One woman on Beckwith was standing with her spray hose and she hosed down our backs for us. That was glorious!

Park2

Running through the Loop of Sadness. I look so sad, don’t I?

As we trucked along toward the “Loop of Sadness” we passed more and more runners and run/walkers who had slowed way down or were walking. We shared cheers and encouragement but Jody and I were not prepared to slow down. We pushed on, winding through miles 22, 23 and 24. Other than some minor issues, I was feeling good and strong.

Looking back through my official pictures, I was sad to discover that somewhere along the line my shirt got stuck up under my race belt, so my belly is hanging out in all my photos. At first I wasn’t going to share them because of that. Then I thought, “Screw it. So my belly was hanging out. I was running a marathon for frak’s sake! I look happy and that’s what is important.” So here you get to see a pic of me during the “Loop of Sadness” complete with belly flesh.

As is my tradition, if you can call something a tradition when you’ve only done it during two races and two training runs, we turned off our timers as we approached the intersection of Gerald and 4th and took an extended walk break. Then came the bridge and our “sprint” to the finish. Coming up to the top of the bridge and seeing the finish line at the end was even a little more emotional this year than last. Last year I was excited to finish for the first time and achieve a goal I hadn’t even conceived of just one year earlier. This year I was excited to be finishing just a little faster, and also to be proving to myself that this isn’t a fluke. This distance running thing is a part of my life now. I have no plans of stopping.

My final time was 5:45:34 which is just a touch faster than last year’s 5:58:09. I’m pleased.

bridgethumb

Running across the bridge, giving the thumbs up to whomever called my name. I was pretty out of it.

One interesting difference between this year and last year is the absolute lack of “post race blues”. Last year I had a very rough time after the race and I was very glad for the reminder our class leader sent out about the blues being perfectly normal. I do have a lot more plans and goals this year than I this time last year. In fact, I’m not sure how I’m going to accomplish everything I want to do. I’ll just have to put one foot in front of the other and take it one step at a time, I suppose.

It’s only 356 days until the next Missoula Marathon. I don’t see any reason not to run it!

Keep running happy!

Going the Extra Mile and Then a Few More

I did it.

On Sunday (6/23) I went out for my last long run before the marathon. I ran 26.2 with my running group, then did a quick two mile loop around downtown Missoula, stopped at The Runner’s Edge for a quick snack and visit, and ran the two miles home for a total of 30 miles.

It wasn’t my best run ever. I hadn’t slept well the night before and I went wrong somewhere with my nutrition, I think, so I was feeling less than fantastic. It was a bit of a slow slog all the way through, really. I’m so glad I had my running buddies with me to keep me going for the first 26.2. If I had been on my own I probably would have given up somewhere around mile 10.

One thing I will say is this: If you decide to do extra miles on a long training run like that, do them before your group run if possible. Prior to our final long run, I’d been getting my extra miles in by running to and from my running class. I think that made it a lot easier. Getting two extra miles after class and ending up at home is pretty easy, mentally. Getting four extra miles after class was mentally more difficult. Breaking it into two sections with a stop at Runner’s Edge helped, but it was still difficult.

I do feel really good about achieving my 30 mile goal, though. I tend to doubt myself a lot in life, but if I can decide to run 30 miles and actually pull it off, perhaps I can do other things that seem beyond me right now.

I’m also happy to report that other than a sore left shin, I didn’t have much stiffness or soreness afterward, which surprises me. Nor did I need to take a break in my running schedule. After waffling quite a bit because I assumed it would be hard and slow, I went out for my usual Tuesday run home and was surprised by how easy and good it felt. And the soreness in my left shin worked itself out on the run, too. Yesterday’s run (the 2nd since the 30 miler) was a little more taxing, but I think that was just because it was around 85 degrees.

Unlike this time last year, I feel much more secure about race day. I know I can run 26.2 miles because I’ve gone farther than that already twice this year. Now it’s just a matter of waiting until race day and taking good care of myself between now and then.

The Missoula Marathon is on July 14th and I’m ready.

One Month to Go!

The marathon is in a month.

The marathon is in a month!

I think I’m ready.

I ran my 27 miler on June 2nd and it was actually a really fantastic run. As soon as I got out onto the street that morning on my way to class, I knew it was going to be a great day. It was overcast and cool, but not cold. My preparation had paid off and I was feeling rested and energetic.

I opted to run with my pace group leader from last year using a 20s/40s split. We both had good reason to run a slow, conservative training run, so pairing up worked out really well for us. It was fantastic to get to run with him, since I haven’t had the chance much this year. We had a great time talking and laughing and catching up.

In some respects, though, the best moment of the run for me was when we got back to the Runner’s Edge. I had run 25 miles and had two more to go for my goal. I stopped and visited for a few minutes with the lovely people who had finished their runs or were waiting for others to finish. I grabbed an orange slice and a delicious chocolate coconut square and realized that I absolutely had 2 more miles worth of energy left in me. That was a really glorious realization to have. I felt strong, energetic and happy, so I filled up my water bottle and bid my friends farewell.

I took off towards home feeling pretty pleased with myself. After about 1/4 of a mile I even decided to switch my timer back to 30s/30s. My last two miles was more quiet and contemplative, but still fantastic.

When I got home I started into “recovery mode” right away. I scarfed down a chocolate yogurt and put my legs up the wall. Once my legs felt ready to go, I made myself a big bowl of gluten free pasta and enjoyed some well deserved (I thought) butt-time in front of the television.

The following day I was mildly stiff but not bad at all, and by Tuesday I was pretty much back to normal.

This week we’re still in recovery mode. Our class has a 6 mile run scheduled for Sunday, so I may go as far as 10. Then I start gearing up for my 30 miler, which will be on June 23rd and is our last long run before the marathon. I’m going to prep for it exactly the same way as I prepped for the 27, which I describe here except for one thing I left out. I read in Runner’s World a while back about the anti-inflammation properties of blueberries, so I’ve been trying to incorporate blueberries into at least one meal every day before a long run. I can’t be certain, but I really do think I’m feeling a benefit from it in terms of less soreness and quicker recovery.

And for the record, I am still loving my new shoes.

I’ve got more to blog about in the hopefully near future, so check back.

In the mean time, keep running happy!

Running While Nerdy

Spring time in Montana can be a challenging time of year when it comes to figuring out what to wear for a morning run. As I got ready this morning it was chilly and windy with impressive gray clouds in the sky. I couldn’t be sure whether it would rain or not. I found myself wishing for one piece of running gear that I just don’t have: a jacket with removable sleeves. Since I warm up pretty dramatically on a run, a jacket with removable sleeves would be perfect on a day like this.

Then I had a stroke of genius. I could wear my Star Trek cycling jersey with my black arm sleeves and it would be just like having a jacket with removable sleeves! So I threw on a singlet, zipped up my Star Trek jersey, rolled on my sleeves and off I went.

You’d be surprised how many nerds there are in the running community. I know the stereotype suggests otherwise, but there are quite a few nerds who run, cycle or otherwise work out. Think Geek sells nerdy cycle jerseys now (I wish they’d get running shirts too!) and Fitocracy is like a big RPG only instead of a character or toon, you’re actually running around earning points, doing quests and leveling up your real self!

Possibly the nerdiest running selfie ever taken.

Possibly the nerdiest running selfie ever taken.

Just to give you some idea of my level of nerdiness, you can see a bit of it here in this photo. Here I am wearing my Star Trek jersey (which was a gift, btw. Thank you James!). Behind me you’ll see a giant photo mosaic of Yoda made from tiny pictures from the original Star Wars trilogy. Below that you’ll see my Firefly DVD set and some of my Buffy DVD set. I also have Angel, Serenity, The Avengers, Doctor Horrible, the extended edition of all three Lord of the Rings and quite a few other things. I have all of Red Dwarf on VHS for goodness sake. I also read a lot of nerdy books and am a huge fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson among other things, but if I start listing off all of the things I love, we’ll be here until next year.

The thing about being a nerd is that we love things. We don’t all love the same things. Some of us love Star Trek or Star Wars (or both) or Buffy or the works of Isaac Asimov or Robert Heinlein. The list goes on. Whatever it is that we love, we love it passionately and deeply. In this video, Wil Wheton (yes, Wesley Crusher from Star Trek the Next Generation) explains why it is awesome to be a nerd and he explains it much better than I ever could. Give it a watch. It’s short.

So here I am, a runner and a nerd, and I love who I am. But I noticed something today that got me a little bit down at first. While I was out today there were some folks who looked at my jersey and then scowled at me. Some people still think nerds and trekkies are bad. What’s up with that? But each time that happened, I’d run or walk past someone else who would see my jersey and light up and smile. So I realized something. Wearing my jersey out in public today made it really easy to sort out my fellow nerds and and other nice people from the jerks. Why people would judge me and scowl at me for showing my love for something is just beyond me. But some folks did.

Now that I know that wearing nerd gear helps sort out the nice people from the jerks. I think I’ll wear my nerd gear more often!

So if you’re out there and you see folks in their Star Trek gear or wearing an Avengers t-shirt or whatever it is, smile at them. Even if you’re not a nerd yourself. Don’t give them a dirty look because they’re showing their love of something. That’s a jerk move.

I have one more Sunday recovery run before my next long run, which is planned to be 27 miles. That will be the farthest I’ve run yet, and I’m a little intimidated. Check back after June 3rd to see how it went.

Keep running happy nerdy!

Here's my jersey with the sleeves that you couldn't see in the Selfie. They did not come with the Jersey, but I think they go well!

Here’s my jersey with the sleeves that you couldn’t see in the Selfie. They did not come with the Jersey, but I think they go well!

The Things People Say

How many times have you heard the following?

“Why would you want to do that?” – said in a snarky, judgmental tone rather than a genuine query, usually after hearing about a race you’ve entered or a goal you’ve set

“Ugh. Running is hard. I’d rather play video games/read/watch tv.”

“Yeah, I’m sure that’ll last!”

“You’re crazy!”

“I could never do that!”

“I’m sure that you’re not interested in joining us for [activity] now that you’re a runner.”  (Full disclosure, nobody has ever said that to me, but a runner friend of mine heard it a lot at one point.)

Most of the time, I think people think they’re being funny and self deprecating when they make these comments. In fact, I am pretty sure I said things like this to my runner friends before I joined their ranks. Now that I’m on the other side I’ve learned that it doesn’t really come across as either funny or self deprecating. It comes off as judgmental and discouraging. I can’t speak for any other runners, but it makes me not want to talk to the people who say that sort of thing.

On the other hand, some people are really supportive. My boss is a former runner and regularly tells me how great she thinks it is that I can run longer distances and how much she misses it. My sweetie, who is not a runner, regularly tells me how proud he is of my dedication and discipline. Several of my friends who don’t run ask often about my next race and tell me how awesome they think it is that I do what I do. Some really cool friends bought me a really amazing (running related) super-secret-gift, which I’ll show you as soon as I can.

Some people are just naturally supportive and encouraging. I value those people in my life a great deal and I imagine that other runners do as well.

But what makes people say snarky, discouraging things? It’s almost as though their self esteem is threatened, which really doesn’t make a lot of sense. Back before I was a runner, I think I was just really intimidated by what I thought my friends were doing. I’m still intimidated by what some of them are capable of, but now I feel more awe and admiration. It’s amazing what people can do when they decide to.

But when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter what goal your friend or loved one is striving for. It doesn’t matter how difficult or intimidating you think that goal is. Being kind and supportive will endear you to them while being snarky and judgmental will probably make them not want to talk to you about it (or much of anything else, in some cases).

I’m curious, runner friends, what other strange comments have you gotten from friends, family or coworkers? Please share them in the comments.

Quick shoe update: My 24 mile run on Sunday went great. I think my new shoes are going to work out wonderfully!