Six Rainy Miles, Runners Dropping Like Flies & a Product Comparison

Today’s run was an easy six mile recovery run in the rain. Being Memorial Day weekend, class was sparsely attended and we were short on pace-group leaders as well. I ended up  co-leading my pace group and it’s a good thing there were two of us, because we both would have taken some wrong turns otherwise. Yay teamwork! I was very excited when most of the half marathoners in our group opted to go the full six miles, rather than the four miles they had scheduled today, as well. There were only two full marathoners in the group, so it was really nice to have everyone along on those last two miles.

In addition to many people missing class because of Memorial Day weekend plans, we’re also losing more students and pace group leaders to injury. The biggest issue seems to be other races. Folks seem to be going out to do other races on our short run weeks, and hurting themselves. This makes me feel really good about  my decision not to enter any races before the marathon, and I’d suggest the same to any new runners who are reading this blog. It’s so easy to get overly motivated in a race and go too fast or not use the same run/walk split you’re used to, or both. If you do decide to do smaller races before your big goal race, just keep in mind that you don’t want to hurt yourself and run accordingly.

Now I’d like to take a moment to do a product comparison for you that I wish I’d had the knowledge to do when I first started shopping for running gear. These are my own experiences and opinions and I’m not getting anything from either company for this.

I have two water belts. You may recall that I bought a new water belt for our twenty mile run, because I didn’t feel that my Nathan belt with two bottles would get me through. For all you new runners out there, I’d like to compare my Nathan Speed 2 to my Amphipod Runlite Airstretch, with 2 additional bottles. There are many other hydration belts out there, so shop around, but maybe this info can help you make a choice.

The Nathan Speed 2 holds two bottles in a fixed position. Those bottles are very easy too get in and out of their carriers while you’re moving. The pouch has a key fob, an ID card and space for your cell phone or a couple of gels or a bag of gummies if you take the air out. There’s also a pill pocket on the front that I’ve used to carry a lip-balm in, but it doesn’t really fit.

The Amphipod Runlite Airstretch came with two bottles and I added two more. For our 20 and 23 mile runs, I was very glad to have all four bottles, especially since our 23 mile run was on a warmer day. The pouch also has a key fob and it stretches just a bit more than the one on the Nathan, but they’re fairly comparable in terms of capacity.

On the Nathan, I really like how easy the bottles are to get in and out of their carriers. The Amphipod bottles snap in and they’re not always quite as easy to put away on the go, but I think it’s one of those things you get used to such that it becomes more natural over time. I also like the velcro flap style for the pouch over the Amphipod zipper. It’s just a bit easier to deal with when I’m reaching behind me. Some of the Amphipod belts have pouches with flaps, too, though.

On the Amphipod belt, I really like that the position of the bottles is not fixed. I can move them around to better accommodate my arm swing, make room for other add-on containers or my Gymboss beeper or my watch, etc. I also like that the Amphipod bottles are much easier to close after you’ve had your drink, which means less water leaked out on you while you’re running. The Amphipod belt is also more easily customized, with those additional water bottles or containers. I’d like to get a second pouch for mine for our next long run.

Both belts have their advantages and disadvantages, but in the end, I prefer the Amphipod belt primarily because I can re-position the bottles and easily add more items. For some folks, the snap-in bottles might just be a deal-breaker.

If you’re thinking about getting a belt with fixed bottle positions, regardless of the number of bottles, make sure you run & walk around with it on and verify that the bottle positions work for you.  Also, get the bottles in and out of their carriers a few times while you’re moving, and stick a few gels and your phone in the pouch and get them out while the belt is on. And check how easy the bottles are to open and close. You may ask to put water in one. Some stores may even let you.

When you’re a new runner, there are so many things you don’t know, not just about the products themselves, but about your own preferences. A good, local running store may be the place to go, even if you pay a little more there. The staff there is more likely to know enough and care enough to help you make the best decision. But even then, you may learn, like I did with my water belt, that there is a better option for you.

The Missoula Marathon is in 41 days and I’ll be running it with my Amphipod water belt. I’m really looking forward to it.

Rouge Leader Standing By

I ran(/walked/ran) 23 miles yesterday!  Holy buckets that was far!

The day started out comfortably cool and overcast and the first half of our run took us up to a gorgeous wooded area that I particularly like running through. The sun came out later and the second half of our run was on pavement and through areas with little shade. I was quite warm.

My biggest issue on yesterday’s run was my feet.  They swelled a bit, though not enough to make my shoes tight, and the bottoms became tender.  The switch from walking to running became a bit more difficult than usual, even by the 15 mile mark, but I toughed it out. It was one of those days when I was really glad to be running with a group. Had I been on my own, I don’t know that I could have completed all 23 miles, but my running buddies kept me entertained and distracted and I was able to keep on going.

I brought a lot of nutrition with me on this run. Having felt like I was running out on the 20 mile run, I may have over-prepared for 23. I filled two water bottles with straight water and mixed Honey Stinger Gels into the water in the other two bottles. I also brought along two extra gels to mix into those water bottles when I refilled them at the aid stations,  three bags of the Stinger Energy Chews and one bag of Jelly Belly Sport beans.  Rather than running out, I only ate 1.5 bags of the chews and no beans. But I did use all 4 gels (mixed in water) and I also drank quite a bit of straight water. I really like the gels. If you try them when you’re not exerting yourself, they may well be overpoweringly sweet. During exertion, they taste much better. By putting them into my water I can take in small amounts at a time, which seems to be the thing to do.

After my run my feet and legs were sore but I wasn’t as tired or mentally fogged up as I had been after the 20 mile run. It’s fascinating to me, as a new runner, how different each run can be. Some days a short run can be harder than a long one a few days later. Sometimes I’ll have weird pains that reoccur over a period of a few days or a week and then disappear. My only continuing issue is my IT band, which behaves very nicely as long as I use my foam roller every few days. Right now it is tight, but not at all sore.

I was able to take a cool bath again after my run, which helped immensely. I strongly recommend the cold bath method to anyone who is running or biking long distances. I did take some ibuprofen as well, which I generally try not to do unless I’m too sore to sleep. I am concerned about masking pain that might alert me to an injury I need to be aware of, so it seems best not to use painkillers much.  But between the swelling in my feet and the sunburn I managed to get, I decided that a little ibuprofen was appropriate this time. And I really didn’t feel like I had any serious pain to worry about, either. My legs were inflamed and felt very tired and somewhat tender, but not injured at all.

Today my feet feel fine and I’m a bit stiff, especially in the hips, but not particularly sore. And I definitely don’t feel injured. My sunburn is probably the most annoying post-run issue I have, and it’s not even that bad. Next time, I’ll apply/re-apply sunblock once or twice when we stop at aid stations.

The title of today’s post comes from the fact that my pace group might be breaking away from the class for our 26 mile training run. Many of us want to run the actual Marathon course, but logistically it is difficult for our class coordinators to manage shuttling everyone out to where the course starts and get people back after our run to retrieve cars. I don’t blame them a bit. But several of us feel very strongly that it will be psychologically beneficial on race day, to have run the course already. So we’re going rogue. We’ll have to get friends and family to do our aid stations for us, but I think we can manage. (As we were discussing our plan to go rogue, I was called Rogue Leader after mentioning that I chosen to return to our pace group after being re-assigned to a faster one. Being a nerd, I was amused.)

The Missoula Marathon is in 47 days and we only have one long training run left to go. That boggles my mind a bit, but I’ll be ready.

Does it Hurt to be Beautiful?

Sunday was a busy day for me and Monday night I went to see The Avengers with friends (It’s AWESOME!) so I am blogging a bit late. Our run on Sunday was a recovery run of 5 miles, with a magic mile. My time was a touch slower than my last MM, which I’m actually fine with.  It was 9:07. Using Galloway’s method of taking the last 4 MM times, throwing out the worst and averaging the rest, I get an average of 9:10, which predicts a marathon pace of 11:55 min/mile or a 5h 12m marathon.  We still have one more magic mile to run before the marathon, so that prediction will probably change a little.

Just yesterday, I finally bit the bullet and signed up for the marathon itself. I’m not sure that it’s been very clear to my friends or my readers that I hadn’t gotten around to that yet, but I hadn’t.  Part of my dilemma was deciding whether to start at 5am with the walkers or 6am with the runners.  Since yesterday was the last day to sign up at the slightly discounted price, I made my decision and registered for the 5am start. I did this to lessen the pressure I might feel to hurry up to make it to the finish line before the party is over. I also thought it might be nice to get a head start on my friends who are traditional runners, so that I can see them when they pass me, rather than having them jet out in front of me, never to be seen again. I enjoy those times when the traditional marathon training class shares part of a route with us and thought perhaps it would be nice during the marathon itself.

This coming Sunday is our 23 mile training run.  It really doesn’t seem like much more than 20 miles did, so I’m not worried about it.  My Mizuno shoes are breaking in well and have been serving me nicely on the short runs, but I think I’ll appreciate being back in my more familiar Asics for the 23 miler.

I had a little brush with a shin splint in my right leg last week, but it seems to be gone now. For a few days I would have a fairly random pain in my right shin every once in a while during the day. It wasn’t severe or particularly frequent and I think it was caused by the boots I wear to mow the lawn in causing a problem with my arch. It’s hard to be certain of course, but using my foot rubz ball and stretching/rotating the ankle seems to have fixed it right up.

Today I learned that I don’t really have a great tolerance for running in the heat yet. It will come in time, I’m sure. NOAA says it’s 85 out right now and my route was fairly sunny. I didn’t bring water, since I was only going out for a short run and I regretted it.  Halfway through my run I opted to stop at the grocery store and use their drinking fountain before heading back home. I’m not sure if that made my run better or worse, since my stomach got a bit upset on the way back, but that may have had to do with the fact that I ran a bit too fast for a little while, which I explain below.

Finally, before I explain the title of this post and the reason for my overly fast running in the heat, let me just alert you to the fact that I am a feminist. That means a lot of different things to different people and this blog isn’t where I want to go into exactly what it means to me, but part of this post will make more sense in that context.

Does it hurt to be beautiful? That is what the 50 something strange man yelled at me from across the street as I was turning onto the trail that takes me home this afternoon.  So many things flashed through my mind just then.  Is he dangerous?  Is he going to follow me?  Why does he think he has the right to yell at me or judge my appearance?  He must be sorta blind, given that it’s really hot and I feel seriously haggard.  What I yelled back was a simple, Yeah, sometimes it does, before turning and running down the trail. 

I’m sure he didn’t catch any of my meaning. He probably assumed that I meant that I dislike running in the heat, which is true. Or that beauty is hard work, which can be true depending on what is meant by beauty in a given context.  What I really meant, right then was that yes, being hollered at by a strange man on the street did hurt even if only psychologically.

Since this man was unknown to me, I cannot guess at his motivations or what kind of person he is. He may have been perfectly harmless and nice or he may have been a danger. It’s impossible for me to know. What I do know is that his question was unwelcome and inappropriate and that I ran a good deal faster than I should have for about the next half mile, until I was certain I was well away from him.

Dearest readers, if you see a person run by and feel the need to call out to them, cheer them on. I can’t speak for all runners, but I sure don’t mind being cheered on. In fact, I love it. But don’t ask questions or make comments regarding their level of attractiveness. Just don’t.  It’s pretty gross. And that’s all I’m going to say on the topic today. If you want more information on why it’s not acceptable to yell stuff like that out to strangers, please go read a dedicated feminist blog like Feministing, Feministe, or any of the thousands of others.

The Missoula Marathon is in 53 days!  I’m officially signed up and I’m really looking forward to it!


Recovery Runs are Nice

Today’s run was a nice 5 mile recovery run and it felt good.  The half marathon trainers had a 4 mile recovery run scheduled, but we were short on pace group leaders today so I think some of them opted to go out with full-marathon training groups that matched their paces. The reason we were short on pace group leaders and had fewer people in class today than usual is that a lot of folks went over to run Bloomsday in Spokane. It sounds like a fun run and it fits well with our training schedule. Next week is another 5 mile recovery run, with the possibility of a Magic Mile (we’ll still be short pace group leaders, so it’s up to us to decide). This might seem strange, but the Galloway training method is all about injury prevention, and when we get up to the high miles, we space our long runs out a bit farther.

A lot of the talk before and during our run this week was about our 20 mile run last week and our recovery experiences. It really surprises me to know that I seem to be having a much easier time with recovery than some of my classmates, even though many of them are more consistently active than I am. I suppose age could be a factor, but at 38 I’m not exactly a spring chicken myself. Many of my classmates were too sore to run on Tuesday, even those who took cold baths after our run. I was slow and my legs were tired, but I wasn’t too sore. If I’m doing something especially right, I don’t know what it is. I wish I did.

My new shoes are beginning to feel broken in. I don’t know that I’m ready to trust them on a long run, but I did the math last night, and I think that if I run all my short runs in the new shoes, my Asics should make it through the remaining long runs and the marathon. The Asics currently have 239 miles on them which means that after our 23 and 26 mile runs, they’ll be at 288. So I think that they’re in good enough shape. I will also have put about 84 miles on the Mizunos by then, at which point they may become my primary shoe for a while.

One thing I’ve learned about my own running needs is that I get overly thirsty and cranky if I don’t have water on any run over 3 to 3.5 miles. Some folks don’t bring water on our shorter runs, like today’s 5 miler. I really dislike feeling thirsty generally, and especially while running. I don’t seem to have to stop at the restrooms any more often than my classmates do, so I don’t think it’s really a problem.

Lastly, I cannot say enough good things about my foam roller.  I’ve been using it every few days, and always on Saturday evenings and my right IT Band feels fine. Every time I use it, it hurts less than before and I’m really to the point now where I only have one bad spot, which isn’t even all that bad.

Only 62 days left before the Missoula Marathon and I’m feeling pretty confident and very lucky. For those of you who are in Missoula, I sure hope you’ll consider coming out to cheer us on, especially later in the race after the fast people have gone by.  Us slow kids need love too.