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.

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Not Gonna Lie, 15 Miles Kicked My Butt

As you may have guessed today’s training run was a 15 mile run.  The first 10 miles felt great.  Miles 11 and 12 were good but I started to feel a bit slow, and the last two or three were tough.  I was very glad to be with my running class, as I’m once again not sure I could have convinced myself to finish that run on my own, but of course I’m glad that I did.

Partly due to a poor night’s sleep I dropped back to the 15 minute pace group for this run, and I am also glad that I did that.  We were a little bit fast, overall, so really it worked out so that I was at a good training pace according to Galloway’s recommendations.

Right now I can feel that I’ll be a bit sore tomorrow and my right IT band is a bit tight.  I’ll work on rolling that out as best I can today, and I’ll try not to sit down for too long at a stretch to help keep things from stiffening up too much.

But what I know for sure, right this minute, is that I can do a half marathon and then some. That’s a good feeling. And there is plenty of time between now and the Marathon in July to build up to the full 26.2 miles.  97 days, to be exact.

Next week is a 4 mile run with a Magic Mile, and then the following week is our 17.5 mile run.  Two weeks later, we’ll run our 20 mile run, and then our schedule changes a bit so that there are two short (5 and 6 mile) runs before the 23 miler.  We will be running a full 26 miles prior to the marathon, as well.

At this point, I anticipate that after a post-marathon recovery period where I run short distances for a few weeks, I will likely continue to run long runs pretty frequently, and endeavor to stay in shape for a new goal race next year.  It may seem a bit insane, but I think I’m setting my sights on the 2013 Pengelly Double Dip.  It’s a shorter race than the marathon, but quite challenging in its own way, and I could still do the 2013 marathon afterward.

Even though today’s run kicked my butt, I still learned that I can run(/walk/run) 15 miles.  And the way I see it, if I can do 15 miles, 17.5 & 20 won’t be that much harder, and if I can do 20 miles, then 23 & 26.2 won’t be much harder than that.  The Galloway training method of adding miles on slowly, in small chunks, really works well for me and lots of other people as well.

Odds and Ends

Sometimes I have little odds and ends that aren’t sufficient to make up a whole post, so I wait until I have a little collection.

Running with a Group

I love running with a group.  I’m glad to have my own time to run for my short Tuesday and Thursday runs, but for my Sunday runs I really appreciate the group so much.  We chat and share information in all the ways that people do as they grow more familiar with each other.  Since we’re running together, we tend to focus a little bit on things related to running like shoes, clothing, PT Clinics, etc, but naturally we get beyond that and share other things as well.

I also love coming back to our gathering place after a run, especially now that the other classes are going.  I run into friends from other classes and other pace groups, and it’s really a nice way to start a Sunday.

Additionally, running with a group helps keep you on target, especially on those long run days.  You feel accountable in a way, and you don’t feel like disappointing your friends by skipping a long run.  You also look forward to seeing and socializing with your friends.  All of these things provide motivation and help you get out of bed on those days you’d rather sleep in.  If you have a friendly running club where you live, I encourage you to join it.  You may think that you’re a loner and you prefer to run on your own, but I’ll tell you, so did I.  It’s one of those things you can’t really be sure of until you  try.

Changes I Have Experienced Over Time

I’ve noticed a lot of changes that aren’t the obvious things like being able to run farther and having stronger legs.  Over these last months I have gone from being someone who hated exercise like a vampire hates sunlight, to being a person who thinks rest days are the worst.  Partly, I believe that is directly related to my choice to try the run/walk/run method over traditional running.  My body isn’t ready for traditional running.  Maybe it will be at some point, but it sure isn’t right now.

My overall attitude has improved greatly, at least most weeks.  Sometimes I still have rough weeks because of stress or something, but overall I’m a happier person.  Other changes in my life have contributed to this, but running is a huge factor, I’m sure.   Running, especially endurance running, can really increase your overall sense of well-being.  You become less vulnerable to certain types of stress.   It also elevates and helps even out moods.  These are all things you know, because you’ve been told them over and over but until you’ve actually tried it, I don’t think most people really believe it deep down.  I know I didn’t.

My ideas about pain have changed.  I still don’t like being sore from exercise, but my body is learning to tell the difference between the good soreness and the bad soreness.  After our 12.5 mile run last Sunday I could tell I would be sore.  Monday morning proved me right, and I really wasn’t looking forward to climbing up and down the stairs at work.  The minute I started up those stairs at work that morning, however, my body provided me with feedback telling me that stairs were good and I should keep doing that.  So I did, and it continued to feel good throughout the day, even though my legs were tired.  The great thing was, when I woke up on Tuesday, I was no longer sore.  Since I tend to be very much a “second day is worse” type of person, I was really pleased by that.

Advice I Have Gotten

One of the things I love about having friends who are more experienced with running than I am, is the advice I get from them, and I’d like to share some of it with you.  Keep in mind that I’m training to be a distance runner so that tends to be my focus.

-Don’t wear your running shoes except when you’re running.  This will help extend the life of your shoes, for one.  Also, if you shop at a cool local running store like I do, you can take your shoes in with you when you buy your next pair, and they can help you pick out your best options, in part by checking out your wear patterns. You walk and run differently, so walking in your running shoes will create a different wear pattern. I also choose not to wear my running bra or my running socks when I’m not running, so as to extend their lifespans.

-Keep track of the miles you have put on your shoes.  A simple excel or google spreadsheet where you enter the dates, mileage and which shoes you wore can make this really easy.  Most running shoes apparently last for 400 to 600 miles, depending on any number of factors, but we all get used to how our shoes feel and may not realize they’re becoming worn if we’re not paying attention.  The last thing you want is to get to the big race and try to run it in broken down shoes.  You also don’t want to run it in brand new shoes, however.  Even if your new shoes are exactly the same brand and model as your old shoes, you still need to break your feet and your shoes in.

-If you’re training for distance running or other endurance sport, make sure you start figuring out your nutrition early on.  Some folks find that their stomachs can get very sensitive during their long runs/rides etc.  Figuring out early what works for you, will save you a lot of trouble and possibly some severe embarrassment during the race itself.

-Always be a skeptic.  You’ll get more advice than you can shake a stick at and quite a bit of it will be contradictory.  Be open to new ideas, but don’t jump on every bandwagon that passes.  Make sure you do your research first, and really listen to your body.  Runners should be especially careful about shoe fads.   Some people swear by running in certain types of non-standard shoes, toe shoes, barefoot, etc.  But they don’t always bother to mention that it took them a long time to work up to running that way, and that it can take a lot of foot strength for that to work.  If you want to try something like that, make sure you work into it slowly, and maybe wait to try it until after your big race, so you don’t hurt yourself during your training.

-Body Glide (the anti-chafing product) is your friend, if you’re a distance runner.  We all have places that chafe, whether it’s under the arms or in your bathing suit area 🙂 long runs can produce a lot of chafe.  Be prepared for that.  Someone also mentioned taping the nipples for long runs, which I haven’t tried yet, but may.

-Have fun.  If you’re training for an endurance sport it’s probably safe to assume that you’re planning on continuing it after the big race, either for more big races or for the health benefits.  If you’re not having fun, it will be much harder to convince yourself to keep going after the big race.

I’ve got 104 days before my big race, and I’m still having fun.  I’m looking forward to our 15 mile run next Sunday.  I may even choose to go out with the faster pace group again, depending on some class related factors.  I feel that this is an option I should consider, since I wasn’t sore on day two following our 12.5.

Running with a Group and Retiring Socks

Today was our 12.5 mile run.  In addition to the added distance, I was moved up a pace group to the 14 minute per mile group, who are run/walking at a 30 second/30 second split.

Miles 3 and 4 were especially hard for me today, and I felt that I might have to drop back to the 15 minute pace group.  I think the issue was insufficient sleep (I tossed and turned a bit), coupled with the fact that I started to get a blister on the ball of my left foot.  At first I thought (as you often hear runners doing) that I could just live with it.  Fortunately, some smarter part of my brain overrode me and I mentioned my blister out loud.  One of my pace group mates, Cindy, happened to have a wonderful product with her: Elastikon tape.  We stopped and applied two strips to cover the area well, and the pain diminished to nothing very quickly.  I’m glad we stopped when we did.  At this point, there isn’t even a visible blister there, though I can feel it.  It would be a lot worse right now if I’d run the remaining 8 miles on it.

So the pair of socks that I was wearing are being retired.  They’re good socks, but they’ve just stretched out too much so they aren’t doing their job.  Well fitting socks are very important for running.  They make all the difference in the world. But a tape like Elastikon is also a handy thing to have, for emergencies.

Between the blister and feeling a bit tired, I’m really glad I had a group to run with.  If I’d been out on my own, I don’t think I would have been able to make myself go 12.5 miles today.   But I made it and I feel pretty darned good, actually.  I can tell I’ll be a little sore, but I’m going to try to get up and walk around the house often today to keep from stiffening up too much.  I really think moving helps more than just about anything.

However, I do think perhaps I’m not quite ready for the 14 minute pace group.  I think my original idea of running with the 14s for our shorter runs, and the 15s when we add miles might be the way to go.  At least for the time being.

In two weeks we’ll be running our 15 mile long run.  That’s even longer than a half marathon.  For some reason, I find that mentally significant.

The marathon itself is in 111 days and I’m still feeling good about it.  I honestly cannot recommend the Galloway method strongly enough, for anybody who thinks running is beyond them, like I always did.

Easing up on the Brakes, the Journey Continues

I may or may not have broken the rules on my Thursday run this week.  Allow me to clarify.

Last Sunday our class leaders stressed that our Tuesday and Thursday runs were times when we could run at the pace and split of our choosing, rather than sticking to our training pace and split.  However, newbies are strongly encouraged not to do any sort of speed work (with the apparent exception of some hills), and to keep things slow and safe.  Normally I do that. I don’t have any interest in hurting myself due to overdoing something.  I want to make it all the way to the marathon in July, after all.

But on Thursday, I just couldn’t hold back.  I had plotted a course around my end of campus that would allow me to run up the little hill three times in three miles.  As I walked out the door of my building, I couldn’t deny the urge to allow myself to run/walk at a much faster pace than my training pace.

I walked the first quarter mile (.3, actually) and I did force myself to keep it slow and easy (though still not anywhere near as slow as training pace, I think) on the rest of that first lap around my plotted circle.  After that first lap, though, I took the brakes off and let myself go.  I am quite certain I was going a lot faster than normal and darn it, it felt really good.  I needed that.  Of course, I also put the brakes on for about the last half mile to warm down a little bit, and I walked it in for just under a quarter mile at the end.

Based on my first Magic Mile time of 10:03, I’m in the 15 minute full marathon training group, and we use a 30 second run/45 second walk split.  When I run on my own I use 30/30 and I don’t pay much attention to my pace other than usually trying to keep it slow and easy. Thursday’s run, from door to door was 3 miles in 32 minutes, including the walking part. So even though I don’t know what my exact pace was at any point, I think the math shows that I was going quite a bit faster than my 15 minute training pace. But again, my body really felt like I needed it and I have no extra soreness or discomfort.  I suppose that I should also add that I didn’t have much in the way of soreness or discomfort after our ten mile run on Sunday.  This Galloway run/walk thing is the best!

Thursday evening after work, my good friends who are largely (okay, almost entirely) responsible for me embarking on this journey in the first place, gave me a really amazing gift.  I am now the proud and excited owner of a GPS running watch.  I’m just flummoxed by such a generous gift, but I am also incredibly excited by all the nifty information I’ll be able to get from it once I figure out how to operate it.  I haven’t quite worked out how to review a saved run yet, so it’s back to the manual for me.  Or perhaps I haven’t worked out how to save a run yet, though I would think the save button would be the obvious option there.

Tomorrow our class is running our second Magic Mile and my goal is to come in at under 10 minutes.  That’s all.  I just want to go 4 seconds faster than my previous Magic Mile.  I am pretty sure I can do that.

With the very obvious exception of deciding to run a Marathon, I generally keep my goals simple and small, so that they are achievable and encouraging rather than out of reach and sad making.  Mentally, it just works out so much better for me, that way.

I’ve also been reading bits of my Galloway Training Program book and I’m finding the section on what to do after the big race to be fairly interesting.  He encourages us to form our post-race plan well before the big day.  After his recommended post-race recovery time, I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do. I’ve thought about running the shorter races in the area and that sort of thing.  So far, it seems likely that my body will want to keep run/walking, and perhaps by then I’ll have some idea of what my favorite distances are and I can come up with a plan to stay in shape and be ready for a time-goal run in the 2013 Missoula Marathon.

With 119 days left to go, I still feel like this is one of the best decisions I’ve ever landed on.  I’ll keep letting my body lead the way as much as I can, tempering it enough to keep it safe, and see where we go.  In some ways July seems just around the corner, and in other ways it seems impossibly far off.  Either way, I’m really excited to get there.

7.5 Easy Miles

Today was finally our 7.5 mile run. This is officially the first run that I’ve done during class that was a longer run than I’d done on my own before class.  Also, it was easy.  It really felt great.  Our whole pace group seemed to agree about that, too.

This time I did run with the minute slower pace group (the 15s) and it’s probably good that I did.  We ran a 30s run to 45 second walk, and at times that seemed like too little running/too much walking.  But if you pay attention to Galloway’s “Running Injury Free” method, I think that when you feel like you could run more and could run faster, you’re probably doing it right.  It’s when you feel like you should have run less or should have run slower than you were doing too much, too fast, too soon.  I’m really looking forward to our 10 miler in two weeks, now.

Also, as a little hat tip to my ego I will admit, I was at the back of my pace group last week with the 14s, but this week I was right at the front so that was a nice feeling, in a weird way.

Some interesting things happened today. First, our class started with a local Ultra-runner and physical therapist presenting to our class. He made some suggestions about exercises for different areas of weakness we might encounter, and helped us get some idea of how to tell when the knee pain was actually a hip problem and such.

Secondly, about 6 miles into our run, I started to have a twinge in my right knee. This is the same knee that’s given me a bit of trouble in the past.  I think there might be a bit of an IT Band issue going on there, but it’s not all that bad yet.  I don’t have a foam roller yet, but I will probably get one in the nearish future.  In the mean time, a friend suggested that a rolling pin might help me out in the short term and darn it if he wasn’t right.  I came home & ran over the appropriate area with a rolling pin and it helped immediately.  I still think a foam roller is the way to go, because I will be able to get a lot deeper with that than with a rolling pin, but still, it was a great solution for today.  I’m also icing my knee, just to be safe.

I chatted a lot with my pace group leader today, since I was right at the front of the pack.  It was really interesting to hear how different things were last year, when our Galloway method runners were just starting out on their own, as opposed to how things are going this year with a more organized and directed class.  I think we’re really lucky to have these folks volunteer to lead and educate us this year, and I told him so.

When I got home after my run & logged my distance (7.51 miles) on Fitocracy, I was again reminded that these 5k and 10k races aren’t as long as they sound, when I got the 10k achievement.  I think there’s a good chance I’ll start racing once in a while after the marathon.  I don’t need to win. I don’t even need to finish first in my age group.  It just sounds like a fun thing to do.

For now, though, my focus is on the 139 days between now and the Missoula Marathon. I want to keep running, keep adding miles, keep getting more fit and keep having fun.  Fun, finishing and fitness, right?

What I learned this week

It’s been quite the week.

If you live in Missoula, or really anywhere in the northwest, you know we’ve had quite a bit of snow over the last several days.    It’s been really beautiful to look at, but not so much fun to shovel.  As someone who doesn’t own a car this is one of those times when I feel fortunate not to be tied to the idea of driving.

Regarding my training this week: I ran on Monday as planned, and my knee and ankle felt fine during and after my run.  I also ran a mile further than my previous longest run.  I ran again on Thursday and even though I felt like I was going slowly and carefully, in deference to the conditions, I went just as fast as I did the week before when I felt like I was putting forth greater effort.

Wednesday was the big learning day of the week, however, as that was the evening of Jeff Galloway’s free presentation at the Doubletree.  It was really interesting and I’m very glad I went, in spite of the crazy weather and road conditions.

As a speaker, Jeff seems like an incredibly friendly guy who really loves running and wants to share that with as many people as possible.  He seemed very focused on newbie runners in particular, which I appreciated since I am one.  His presentation touched primarily on injury prevention and motivation, with a little bit on nutrition and a smattering of other topics.  I’m honestly not sure what to make of his take on injury prevention.  Part of it makes absolute sense to me but part of it seems completely counter intuitive.

First, he recommends preventing overuse injuries by not running faster or longer than you can, especially not faster.  This makes a lot of sense to me, as someone who has been working at improving slowly over time rather than trying to push myself really hard.  He didn’t exactly say that we should “listen to our bodies” but I think that he would have been comfortable with that idea.  That aspect of his recommendations fits right in with what I’ve been doing since I started on this path back in June.  I work at improving slowly over time but I don’t push myself too hard or overdo it.  In that respect, I think the Galloway method is a perfect fit for me.

On the other hand, Jeff’s take on stretching baffles me and will require some research.  He asserts that stretching causes injuries.  He says the science backs him up on this, so clearly some research is required.   I’ll admit that I’ve heard a few things about yoga related injuries lately but I keep wondering if these things are happening to people who push themselves too hard.  When I do my stretches, many of which I’ve learned from yoga dvds, I don’t strain or push.  I relax into the stretch and let the muscles release their tension slowly as I breathe.  I’m curious to know if this is drastically different from what others are doing.  Are people really striving and straining too hard and hurting themselves?  Or does stretching actually cause injury?  Until I’ve had time to do more research on the topic, I will probably be very conservative and careful about my stretching, but it’s hard not to do it when it helps reduce my soreness and just plain feels good.

As to motivation, I gather that he writes fairly extensively in his books about motivation and  mantras.  He suggested using mantras to take control of the mind when it is stressed and doesn’t want to go out and run.  At this point, I’m not finding that to be a problem with respect to running, myself.  Rather, I am finding that I get irritated and even upset or angry when I feel as though I can’t/shouldn’t run.  On the other hand, I do struggle a bit with motivation to do my core training on non-running days, so perhaps I can use his techniques then.

With respect to nutrition, there were a couple of important things.  First, whatever you find works for you during training, stick to that on race day.  Race day isn’t the time to experiment.  Honestly, I think that is sort of obvious, but maybe it’s not obvious until you think about it.  Secondly, he says that during a long race like a marathon, the body needs water and sugar and can’t really digest anything else. Even electrolyte drinks, he says, can upset the stomach and cause the runner to puke.  This will also require some research on my part before I’ll totally buy it.  But make no mistake, the man has been running for longer than I’ve been alive, and competed in the Olympics two years before I was born, so my guess is that he’s figured a few things out along the way.  I’m just a skeptic by nature, so I need to take some time to see what evidence there is to support his claims.

An audience member did ask about cross training and I found Jeff’s answer to be entertaining as well as informative.  He said that first and foremost, exercise is good for you, and therefore we should all do whatever strength or cross training we want to do.  However, distance running isn’t a strength sport.  He said that there are only two exercises that really make any difference in distance running (besides running). He recommends crunches and weighted “running arms”.  These strengthen the abs and the back and help the runner maintain his or her proper form.

When asked about running form, Jeff seemed to me to indicate that in most cases, the body will figure it out and that it’s best not to over-think it.  I am not sure my body has figured it out yet, but on my Monday run, I did notice some interesting changes in my form, so perhaps I’m headed in the right direction.

By the end of Jeff’s talk, I was once again fortified in my belief that I can actually do this marathon thing.  I need to be diligent about my training and I need to continue my policy of being very honest with myself, but I can do it.  I really almost feel like the Galloway method was made for me and is a perfect match for my current mental state.  I’ve got 169 days until I find out for sure.