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!

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!

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!

Boston

Like many runners, especially marathoners, I’ve been thinking about the events in Boston a lot. My first reaction was to worry about people I know who were at the race. Then I started to worry about the other local runners that I don’t know, but have seen here and there. Then I started to wonder why the heck somebody would target a marathon. Now I can’t stop thinking about all the people who didn’t get to finish the race. They worked so hard, only to find themselves stopped at mile 25, not really knowing what was going on; unable to contact their family and friends; unable to finish what would have been the race of a lifetime for many.

Reading through the various articles and social media posts from fellow runners, the big theme seems to be Keep Running. Go for a run tonight. Register for an upcoming race. Find a marathon to train for and run it. Run Boston next year if you can. Just. keep. running. 

Many people have spoken far more eloquently than I can on the strength and resilience of runners, and about our passion and the peace that we find on the road. It’s true. For me, running keeps me sane. I don’t think I talk much about my anxiety here on the blog, but it’s a part of my life. Running controls it better than anything. It keeps my moods even and my mind clear. I recently had to take a week off to heal from something unrelated and by the end of that week I was a grouchy mess and starting to feel anxious again. I won’t give up running. I need it. I’m going running with my buddies tonight. Thursday I will probably run on my own. Sunday I’ll be doing an 18 mile training run with my class. And from there I’ll keep right on training. I’ll run my second marathon in July, and I have another goal race I plan to run in October. I’ll find other races in between and after. I have to.

Whatever your reasons are, just keep running.

 

Failing to Catch Imaginary Bob

I ran the Snow Joke half marathon yesterday. My intention going into the race was just to run for fun, enjoy the scenery and not worry about time. Those plans sort of worked out, and sort of didn’t.

This was my first time running the Snow Joke, but I doubt very much it will be my last. The course is really lovely, the race itself is the least expensive half marathon I’ve ever heard of ($15 for the entrance fee and an optional $15 for a t-shirt). If you read through all the pages at the website, you’ll find some things that rub me the wrong way, but not enough to cause me to forgo the race.

I caught a ride to Seeley Lake with buddies from my running class and that was lovely. I hadn’t had much of a chance to chat with these ladies before so I was really happy for the opportunity to ride with them. We’d all heard stories about the long lines during registration so we left relatively early and got to town at a decent hour. It turns out that the organizers had made some changes this year so things went a bit more smoothly than we anticipated and the race started pretty much on time.

My buddies and I started off the first little bit of the race just jogging, to let all the faster people pass us, before setting our timers to 30/30 for run/walk/run. The front of the pack zoomed on down the road and the herd thinned out fairly quickly. As usual, once we started our timers, we began to play leap-frog with runners near us. We did gain on and pass a number of other runners, and even gained another running buddy for a while, in a gentleman who was having some trouble with his shins. He hung with us until the pain worked itself out, and then off he went.

On the up-slope of the biggest hill in the race (around mile 3) we leap-frogged for a while with a young man who was both tall and otherwise large. We were quite impressed to see him running and tried to be positive and encouraging as we leap-frogged and then passed him.

A little while after that, we caught up to Bob. For those of you from other places, Bob is an 86 year old local runner and bit of a legend, who runs all the races. Bob is great and many of us often speak about how we’d like to “grow up to be like Bob” meaning we want to keep running into our 80s and 90s and even beyond.

We leap-frogged with Bob for a while and then pulled ahead of him on the hill. But then, Bob overtook us on the downhill slope and pulled away a little. We weren’t too worried about that. I’m not sure what my buddies had in mind, but I figured we’d pass Bob eventually, and if we didn’t, as long as we kept him in our sights, I could take off towards the end and pass him if I wanted.

That plan seemed very do-able until the debacle at the aid station at mile 6. Two of my buddies needed to visit the porta-potty, and I was fine waiting for them. Except, the young man I mentioned previously, jumped in line and got into the potty before the second one of my buddies and he was in there for ages and ages. I’m guessing that he doesn’t know how to eat the day before a race yet, and had some serious digestive issues. While I do feel some sympathy on that count, it really did slow us way, way down and that made us all a bit cranky.

After we were finished at the aid station, I was pretty driven to pass the young man at least. My buddies had the sense not to let me pull them along too much, so I ended up running for a while with one of our other running buddies and then even he dropped back. From around mile 8 I was on my own.

For a while, I just ran a comfortable, but slightly faster than usual pace, and enjoyed passing people as I went. After a while, I began to wonder if there was any chance of catching up to Bob. In all reality, there probably wasn’t ever a chance that I could have pulled that off, but it motivated me to go a bit faster.

As I rounded a corner around mile 9, I was sure I saw Bob up ahead. I picked up the pace a bit and before long I caught up to the person I thought was Bob, but it wasn’t Bob. But then, up ahead, I saw another Bob, and off I went. Once again, when I caught up to that person, she wasn’t Bob and didn’t actually look anything at all like him. She just happened to be wearing something blue.

But wait! There he is!  That must be Bob there! I thought, as I came up a hill and around a corner. Upon catching up to this new Bob I had to have a good laugh at myself. It was a mailbox. A blue mailbox, but still just a mailbox.

For the next couple of miles I continued to catch up to one Bob after another, but none of them were actually Bob. Finally, I tried to catch one last Bob as we came up the hill at the end of Boy Scout Road, before the turn back onto 83. But of course, he wasn’t Bob either.

I followed a small pack of runners across the street and into the home stretch, but as I turned that corner I became a bit disoriented. I hadn’t noticed any markers pointing us that direction, and I felt certain we’d turned the wrong way. I slowed down considerably, waiting for them to discover their error and turn around. But they hadn’t actually gone the wrong way, and I eventually figured that out when I saw them turn the corner to the finish line, and sped back up.

As I approached the finish, I could hear a runner behind me and I was bound and determined not to be passed so close to the end, so I put every bit of energy I could into speeding up and crossed the finish a few seconds before she did. After getting my timing chip clipped off my shoe, I wandered back out to the corner to wait for my running buddies. I drank my water and cheered everybody in, and before too long there they were. As they came around the corner I fell back in and ran those last few steps with them and then met them on the other side of the line.

We all made it in under 3 hours, even after having so much time basically stolen from us by the young man and his digestive issues.

Here are the times my watch shows for each of the 13 full miles, so you can see exactly what happened.
Mile 1 12:34:51
Mile 2 12:40:00
Mile 3 12:46:00
Mile 4 12:59:00
Mile 5 13:06:00
Mile 6 13:17:00
Mile 7 18:07:00 (Look at how much time we lost!)
Mile 8 12:30:00
Mile 9 12:20:00
Mile 10 12:28:00
Mile 11 12:25:00
Mile 12 11:45:00
Mile 13 12:10:00

In the end, I caught up with at least 6 imaginary Bobs, including the mailbox. But I never did catch up with the real Bob. Bob finished in 2:48:47 and I finished in 2:52:43. I had a great run, through beautiful country and except for that delay, I enjoyed it very much.

RealBob

Here is a pic I took of Real Bob that first time we passed him on the hill around mile 3. He really doesn’t look much like a mailbox.