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 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.

In Which the Author is a Bad Example

Before I tell you about today’s class and my extra running, I want to ask you, for the love of Batman, please do not follow my example. Please.

I got a late start out the door this morning, so when I realized halfway down my street that I hadn’t brought my pepper spray, I didn’t have time to turn back for it. I get a bit paranoid when I run alone, and there were just enough other people out between my house and our meeting place to make me more paranoid, rather than less. As a result of that, I ran faster than I should have for the 2.4 miles to get to class. Not such a big deal, except I ended up doing more running after class, too.

Class went well today. We still started out a little fast, which I seem to recall doing last year. But we slowed it down as we went along, and I think we came out with a pace in between that of our two groups, which should be fine for these low mile runs. I tried to chat with more of our pace group members, but being shy and awkward I was not entirely successful at that. All in all, though, it was a good run.

At some point during the morning I found out that one of the other pace group leaders would be doing additional miles afterward, as part of training for the Snow Joke, and I decided to join in on that. I haven’t been getting out on my long runs as much as I planned lately (holidays, life, and so forth), so I’m behind on training up for the Snow Joke. Or, at least I was.

I hadn’t really planned things out in my head very well, though, and I ended up going farther than I probably should have. I ran just over 14 miles all together, in 4 segments, with small breaks in between. Given that I haven’t run farther than 6 miles in… I’m not sure how long, that wasn’t the wisest thing to do. But my last 3.5 miles I took it very slow and very easy, so I hope my body won’t mind too much.

When I got home, I had a chocolate yogurt right away (I’m thinking of adopting the Brown Cow Cream Top Chocolate yogurt as my new recovery snack) and put my compression sleeves on. (I wish I’d worn those on my run today.) I think I may give my feet and ice bath later, but sadly I don’t have a bath tub, so I can’t do a full ice bath. I will also endeavor not to sit down for too long at a stretch. I don’t want to stiffen up.

So between running faster than training pace on my first 2.4 miles, and running farther than I really should have, I broke a couple of the Galloway rules today. I expect to pay for it in some stiffness and soreness, but I don’t feel any other issues at the moment. Hopefully, nothing will crop up.

So the Snow Joke is in 20 days and the Missoula Marathon is in 160 days. I’m still super excited to help my pace group buddies make it to the marathon. Happy running!

Running Slow is Hard! or It’s 5:00 Somewhere.

Is it wine-o’clock yet? No? Darn it!

Before I start in with the whining part of this post, let me tell you that my run this morning was great. It was the first day of this year’s Galloway Marathon Training Class, and you may recall that I signed up to be a Pace Group Leader. I’m really excited to (hopefully) help other people have a great experience with the marathon, like I had last year. It was really wonderful to see some familiar faces, and some new faces today. I’m really, really excited.

I’m also worried. Let me confess something, dear readers. [deep breath] My name is Joni, and I am a worrier. I really am. I don’t worry about myself so much, but I worry like crazy about other people, especially people I care about or am in any way responsible for.

I knew, intellectually, that we would run faster than our training pace today. I remember from last year that it is hard to get folks to slow down and run at the training pace at first. I was prepared for that. What I was not prepared for was my own reaction. I started to worry about my pace group buddies hurting themselves. Not today, since we only ran 3 miles. No, I started worrying today, about how they’ll hurt themselves on the 12 mile run or the 14 mile run if we don’t slow our pace down. (Some of my friends are totally laughing at me right now, because unlike me, they saw this coming.)

Yes, I recognize that this is actually a bit ridiculous. Stop rolling your eyes like that, they’ll get stuck that way. 😛 For one thing, this was a short run so training pace isn’t so critical. But it is helpful to learn how to run training pace now, so that it’s easier to do on the long ones. Also, I may be a Pace Group Leader, but I’m not actually the boss of anyone. If they over-do it and hurt themselves, I am not at fault. But I really, really, really want them all to make it through training to the marathon and have a great time doing it. I had so much fun last year, and I didn’t suffer any serious injuries. I want to share that!

So the lesson, for me, from today’s run is to take a deep breath and let the stress and worry go. There is no way I can ensure that every person in my pace group will have a great experience. There is no way I can guarantee that every person in my pace group will make it through training uninjured. I just have to do my best to share what I’ve learned and let everybody find their own way. In the mean time, I’ll have a glass of wine as soon as it’s socially acceptable.

Only 167 days (and 16 hours) until my second Missoula Marathon. This time I know I can do it.

 

Trying to hit the Re-set Button

I haven’t been blogging. I haven’t been logging my activity at Fitocracy. I’ve been neck-deep in a feeling of failure, when it comes to running. It’s not that I’ve stopped running. It’s just that I haven’t been running often enough or far enough. I realize that it’s silly to feel like I failed at running, but I wasn’t coming anywhere near my goals for my weekly mileage totals or my long run distance.

It all started with training for the Sentinel Hill Climb. I didn’t find out about the race far enough in advance to really train well for it, and the race was a bit advanced for me. I only actually managed to run the entire race course once before the race. So while I knew I could do it, I wasn’t really trained up for it. I did run up the M trail (the first part of the race course) quite a few times before the race, and it is really the most difficult part (at least on the route I took), so at least I did that.

The thing is, during the period of training I developed quite a large knot in the front of my right thigh. It took me a while to even realize what was going on, and I didn’t notice it until after it had started to throw off my gait quite a bit. I’ve had some very weird hip soreness, as well as strange soreness in my ankles. Once I realized what was going on, I started using my foam roller once or twice per day.  It took over a week after the race to finally get the knot to release, and now the soreness in my hips and ankles is nearly gone. Things are getting back to normal.

I’m also having an issue with feeling really busy. I’m a hermit-type. I need a lot of down time. I had been thinking that once the summer was over, things would calm down again and I’d have more time, but that hasn’t happened. If anything, I’ve been more busy the last couple of months. So, mentally, that’s been interfering with my motivation to run and to really do much of anything.

I want to hit the running re-set button.  It’s time to start training for the Snow Joke Half Marathon. I’m going to work on getting back into my best habits of running at least three times per week and trying to get in a total of at least 20 miles for the week. That will be easier some weeks than others, of course. But those are my goals.

I also have a short race coming up on Thursday morning. The Turkey Day 8K will be a great way to start celebrating Thanksgiving Day with my running buddies and my running community, for whom I am especially thankful.

I imagine it’s not uncommon for folks to feel like they’re failing at their running, and to need to hit the re-set button. How have you done it?  Sign up for a new race to get motivated? Make up a formal training plan with some new goals? What else?

That’s it for now. I’m still here and I’m still running. I’ve just been going through a rough patch is all.

Happy running!

Some Weeks are Tougher than Others…

And sometimes those weeks drag on. I have been running, but not as often or as far as I would like. And I didn’t realize I hadn’t blogged in so long.

I’ve been training for a short, but challenging race that takes place tomorrow, but I haven’t even done as much of that as I would like. It’s going to be hard. I know I can do it, though. I’ll just be slow.

I’ve done most of my attempts at running up the hill at intervals of 15 seconds run & 30 seconds walk. It’s hard but doable. A couple of weeks ago, I tried 20 seconds run and that turned out to be too much. It strained my knees and I had to take a break. I really wanted to be able to work myself up to even splits but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I like even splits because that way if I need an extra walk break I don’t have to mess with my timer. I suppose I could just program my timer for 15 and 15 and always walk for two. Not sure why I didn’t think of that until just now, but I think it might work out perfectly.

I’ve also had some trouble finding folks who want to run as far as I do on the weekend, at least at something in the neighborhood of my pace. I still prefer running with others, particularly for longer runs. And this week, because of the race tomorrow, my long run will hopefully be Tuesday.  I have the day off to vote so I plan to run to my polling place, vote and then take a nice tour of the neighborhood over by my poling place. It’s a pretty area. The exact distance I choose will depend on how I feel after running up that hill tomorrow, but I hope to do at least 10 miles.

This last weekend we had our first meeting for the upcoming Galloway Marathon Training Class. I am hoping to be a pace group leader, so I went to the meeting and found myself getting very excited about getting back into marathon training mode. I had such a great experience last year and I hope I can help someone else have that same great experience this year.

I still have a few more ideas for Tips for New Runners posts, so I will try to get those up soon and post more regularly again. Happy Running!