Saturday, July 18, 2009


I ran 14 miles on Friday night and I've been so bummed I haven't even wanted to write about it. I did finish. I had many successes including no nausea and really feeling good the entire run. In fact I kept getting hungry which I thought was a GREAT sign. I had some of a larabar and an all-natural fruit roll-up. Another success was being able to drink the entire 70oz in my hydration pack. I really did try to sip often the entire run and towards the end had a hard time sucking back water. I thought it was just the Nathan pack because I definitely didn't think I'd hit bottom. But I had!!! Completely emptied it.
I went back to the Golden Hawk 6 miler loop and ran it twice, then finished up with 2 miles around the Air Assult Track nearby on Post. The air was fairly cool the entire time and besides bugs hitting my chest like a car grill, it was turning out to be a fairly trouble-free run. ...Except at around mile 10 or 11 I started feeling a knee ache. I was worried this could be ITB but hoping still that it was anything else. The outside of my left knee twinged and hurt before growing into pain, searing with each step. I had to walk. I'd try to run but the pain would come immediately back radiating along my knee. This sucked. I walked for most of mile 12 trying to decide if I should just quit right there as I was nearing my car. Walking must have helped because as I kept going onto the Air Assult track for mile 13 it felt better. I finished 14 and although it still was sore, I wasn't exactly in pain anymore.
I grabbed a bag of ice and took a decent 20 minute ice bath while praying for a miracle cure. I popped some ibuprofen that night and the next day to help with inflammation. Since, I've taken Sat., Sun., and Monday off before walking my dog just now. It had been difficult to go down stairs for the first day or so but feels fine now. I'm so worried this is ITB and it's going to take me out completely like it did for my first marathon. As an overuse injury the only cure is stretching (supposedly) and strengthening the knee (supposedly) and laying off running (which I believe is the real cure here). Oh and more anti-inflammatory meds. So, that's what I've been doing. And I'm really anxious about it and praying for God to somehow heal me and let me continue to doing the one thing that I really enjoy. I'm not sure when I'm going to go out for a short run - - I'm really scared to feel that pain and know it's an over-use injury. I will probably head to the trail next so that I'm not doing the same movement over and over like I did running on the road.
Other than the knee issue I had no residual soreness. It's so sad because 14 would have been a fairly easy run for me and an easy recovery.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Zero Tolerance: Training with Food Sensitivities

I am ecstatic to see food issues get attention in the running world! Trail Running Magazine wrote an article on training Gluten Free.

Most of the article is super informative about celiac disease in which the only cure is to avoid gluten. The author did a great job explaining what the disease is, how it is diagnosed and how gluten is hidden in our food system. However, I felt like the article was a little narrow in their advice and solutions so I wanted to write my own addendum. For example, they suggest dairy and don't take into consideration that at least 50% of people with celiac disease also can't have dairy. Also, most people with food sensitivities are actually allergic to multiple foods. So, a lot of their suggestions for gluten alternatives included soy (top 8 allergy) and corn. Better advice would be to encourage the exploration of natural, whole foods like dried fruit (dates), agave, honey, seeds, and alternative grains like quinoa. The article could have been a lot more original and informative by showing readers how to make their own allergy-free granola bars or fruit roll-ups from whole foods. Both would be great race fueling alternatives.

The article was directed towards the newly diagnosed runner, which makes sense as they are probably the ones in most need of direction and help. I did think it was a great suggestion to go see a nutritionist. Especially for help learning about all the derivatives made from gluten. But the author focused too much on suggesting that the runner slow down when they are beginning to run again after being diagnosed. I can tell you that you don't have to tell someone starting to purge gluten out of their system to slow down. One of the biggest, most common complaints with this condition is extreme exhaustion. Believe me, no one has to tell me to lay down when I've been "food poisoned" because it'd debilitating when I've eaten enough. My arms and legs are completely fatigued. My mind is fuzzy and I usually have headaches so bad I used to lay in the dark. Gluten makes me feel achy all over and extremely tired, paradoxically however, I can't sleep because my body inside is in a frenzy trying to "work out the problem." Then, there are more annoying side effects like coughing, wheezing, itching and stiff joints. The author does say one time that erratic energy levels can be a side effect initially and I would say that is almost going to be a definite.
Anyhow, I just came up with a lot of negative points but I am really impressed to see an article addressing this condition. And I wouldn't expect a race to accommodate people with food allergies anymore than I'd expect to go to a foreign country and for everyone to speak English! Although, really, wouldn't dates versus gummy bears be a healthier racing fuel for all of us runners? Like they said though - and the best advice for runners with food allergies is that you have to change the way you fuel and race to accommodate food sensitivities. Gatorade, etc is out for me - - so I will have to carry my own hydration because I can't drink the common race provided beverages. I can't eat cookies and candy or broth (etc) provided at a lot of races - - so I will have to carry my own fuel. I can't use GU or powerbars and most other energy replacement products (because of my corn allergy) so I will have to carry my own natural foods. I can't even pop an ibuprofen anymore (unless I get it specifically compounded with potato starch) because it's made with cornstarch.
It definitely takes extra thinking and extra work and I enjoyed seeing that noticed by Trail Magazine.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Air Assault 4 Miler

Tonight I ran 4 miles (2 loops) around the Air Assault Track on Post. The feels like temp was 96 degrees and humidity was almost 100% as its supposed to rain any minute now. There was lightening in the distance as it grew darker and darker.
I felt sick the entire run because the last couple days I've been hit with what feels like food poisoning. It's not truly food poisoning however, it's just that my body thinks that corn/wheat/dairy is it's mortal enemy. So a few days ago it started with a headache, then stiff/achy fingers, then as I messed up a few times more it grew into eczema, nausea and then today added on exhaustion and body fatigue. When I say fatigued I don't mean like tired-at-the-end-of-the-day feeling but like as if I had the flu. But... as I looked at my running goals and my schedule, I really needed to get in 4 miles. I can't do it tomorrow, and Friday would be the day before my long run, - it had to be tonight. I decided that even though I felt like I had the flu, I knew I didn't. Even though I felt sick, even to my stomach, I knew it was just my body overreacting to what it thinks is a toxin. So I decided to run/walk as much as I could. And, I ended up going 4 miles - feeling sick the whole way, feeling tired and walking on and off but I finished.
Most people have challenges running. Running is a challenge in itself. Then there's weather, hydration, old injuries, overtraining, undertraining, etc.. And this is just one of mine - but now I know I can run through it.

Currently Listening: 50/50

I went back to the Golden Hawk Course for my weekend "long" run. I was hoping to do 8 miles but only ended up with 6. I hadn't had energy all day but towards the end of the afternoon I found a little spark and took off. I am glad for what I was able to get done and without any problemos - no aches, no nausea, and drank plenty of water.
The hour and 20 min went pretty quickly as I was listening to Dean Karnazes new book: 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days -- and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance! I'm probably 3/4 through the book and at his 26th marathon (out of 50). It's been an interesting book with a review of each marathon he accomplished in 50 days as well as tips and tricks peppered throughout. A lot of his information is obvious and he admits that his ability to run extreme distances is probably due to genetics, but I still recommend the book. The uniqueness of the subject is in the newness of each day, which brings a different marathon in a different state, with a changed climate and new people. So every chapter really is a new story, building on the aches or tiredness or drama or inspiration of the day before. I don't think this is a take-home book of technical ideas for the veteran marathoner but more of a story about running. The title leads a reader to believe they will learn how to run so far, so often, but I'm not sure that the instructions to do that are really there in the book. New marathoners will find lots of tips, but most of them are looking to just complete the distance, not yet, surpass it. Like I said, it's more of a collection of stories with his personal tips here and there.
As an author, he is really likable. Dean doesn't seem to be the media lover he is made out to be as he states over and over in different ways how he is truly an introvert. However, his "good old boy" persona does get a little grating. I found myself rolling my eyes at some of his comments about doing it all for the children and some other well-chosen ways of looking like he's completely self-less and has no idea how perfect he is... But other times he comes across as very caring and honest. Who knows, but it's a decent book to help keep your mind occupied while running. And I've found a great little technique for audio books. I've been stuffing my iphone in one of the mesh chest pockets of my Nathan Intensity vest on speaker phone. So I can listen to music or an audio book without using headphones at all. (You can't wear headphones while running on Post.) I wondered if it'd just drain the heck out of my battery but I used it on my 12 mile run and by turning the screen off while the audio book is still playing, it barely even uses battery power - and that was over 2.5 hours! Also, I'm VERY happy with my Garmin 405 battery. Reviewers all over the place complained about the battery life, but again, on my last 12 mile run, I think I still had 60-80% of battery life left in it. Whatever it was, I remember being shocked - because reviewers seemed to act like it'd never last for any decent run. I also want to note that I was using the GPS and the Heart Rate Monitor functionality!
So anyway, a good run this weekend and really happy to be able to enjoy a book and stay engaged the whole time!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Parcours Trail for 3, Easy.

Got in a little 3 mile jog tonight as the sun was sinking. Upon finishing the firefly's came out. I love summer. And I love it that the bridges got make-overs ARMY style.
My calves are still tight but I worked them out with a hand massager tonight. I'll try to do it tomorrow as well.
I am hoping to put in an 8 miler on Sunday-ish. We shall see what the day brings.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Doesn't this look like a nice place to run? It should be, but today I wasn't feeling it.
I ran 12 miles this weekend and really felt great over the last couple days except my calves felt tight (been trying to work out a couple knots) and I've just felt kinda tired.
I only went out today because it's been a couple days since I ran and needed to get moving more than a mile dog walk. I figured I'd head to the pine needle-covered trail for hopefully a soft footfall and an easy run.
Well, it was hot, humid, I felt tired, my legs never loosened and no amount of music and pretty scenery was making it better. I finished up with 3 miles and was pretty glad to head home and clean up.
Not every day is a good day. Not every run is a good run.
I've continued reading The Extra Mile and I will say that it has picked up at Chapter 17. Pam Reed starts talking a little bit more about how she got into racing the ultra marathons, including Badwater. It's beginning to be more about running (really interesting) and less about her personal life (un-interesting). I'll review again after I've finished!

Review: Running On The Sun DVD

I have no idea why but I've watched this movie about 4 times. I've had the DVD, rented through Netflix, for about a month and still haven't sent it back! The trailer is probably more professionally made than the actual documentary is... but I guess the stories are so intriguing and the race is so captivating that I keep thinking I'll watch it once more before returning. I just need to buy it! Haha. Anyway, here is the trailer if you haven't seen it.

Current Inspiration: 13 Year Old Runs an Ultra

I love this video even though it's kinda old and I've watched it a number of times.
I appreciate the moms' support of her daughter, their time together, that a 13 year old wanted to do it and succeeded.
Mackenzie says that she didn't really train,'s an ultramarathon, surely they did a little running beforehand. :) Anyway, it's inspirational and makes you want to get out there and go farther.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Golden Hawk 12 Mile Run

On Sunday morning at 6am I started the Golden Hawk 6 mile course. This route is 100% road but I ran on the grass when I could. Since it was so early, I saw very few cars. I wish I could stay on the trails but the only ones we are "authorized" to run on are short 2 mile-ish loops. I was not going to loop 6 times on the same path, especially since I did that for my 10 miler (5 loops).

The humidity was choakingly thick. I had started early just to avoid the heat and worried that I'd still be in for a steamer. Oddly though, as the sun came up it seemed to burn away the moisture and cloud cover moved in, keeping the temps down. Every so often I'd feel an almost cool, refreshing breeze move past me! Nice!

My legs and previous weak areas (calves, left knee and heels) felt really great the entire run. I've been using a hand massager on them and working out any knots I feel during the week. I also was back to wearing my Brooks Adrenaline 9 and they felt great on the grass as well as brief trips over asphalt. The major battle I had for this run was nausea - almost the entire time on and off. - - I'm still experimenting with food however, and pretty much stuck to all natural products this run. I'm just wondering if my stomach is going to be my achilles heel, causing issues no matter what I throw down it. In all other areas I seemed fine (ie: no cramping). Towards the 10th mile and then definitely at the 11th, I was running out of energy. And I know why... I simply had not been able to take in enough calories. I'm so freaking slow - especially running in grass and on trail - that in 3 hours, I had probably depleted all I had in me. I tried to eat half a luna moon around the 6th mile and could only get that much down before spitting out the rest, wishing to throw up.

Let's see, about 45 min before running I ate an Almond & Coconut KIND bar, 1/3 of a Sugar-free Red Bull, and some coconut water. I did want to eat the bar a little earlier but I was already waking up at 5am to do that and really, that's going to be the earliest I'm rising. Then, during the run I had a total of 1.5 luna moons, which are the size of 2 gummie bears. Not much. And my Nathan was filled with very, very watered down Clif Luna Sports Drink. Also interesting to note, I filled my 70oz bladder up completely and only drank 30oz. I'm sure I should be drinking more since it took me hours to finish. Then, I finished the coconut water after my run.

So, disappointingly, the nausea that haunted me in the past is still nagging me even though I'm trying to go as natural and easily digestible as possible. I don't know... maybe I still need to go more broken down, more close to the earth. I'm considering honey as my only source of fuel. Or even a honey product like Stinger. At Whole Foods I used to be able to buy raw honey sticks where you bite off the top and stir it into a drink or whatever. I don't have anything like that local but it would be convenient and easily absorbed. So, if I went the honey route, I'd probably want to get into S-caps (sodium and potassium) and then drink plain water from the bladder. Hitting some coconut water (5 electrolytes & 60 calories for energy) whenever I can as well. That would really pair down the amount of work my stomach has to do and maybe, eliminate the nausea.

Anyhow, to rap this up, next weekend I should only go out and do 8. On my last run I kept thinking I needed to re-do this 12 miler. I don't know why.... maybe just to go out and do it stronger before moving up again. I have a little bit of healthy fear about pushing mileage in one run. Things are going good and I want this to last - even if that means backing off.

Goal: I would really like to do the Dogwood Canyon 50k (31 miles) Oct 25, 2009. If I keep going up in mileage every two weeks I can probably hit 26 miles two weeks prior to the race. That should be enough training to go out and try for my first ultramarathon!

Link: Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, Missouri-Arkansas

Note: Update 4/21/10... I now know that most of the products I was eating contain ingredients such as citric acid which are usually made from corn. Corn causes a lot of problems in my body and probably caused a lot of the issues I experienced that day.

Currently Reading: The Extra Mile

Title: The Extra Mile
Subtitle: One Woman's Personal Journey to Ultra-Running Greatness
Author: Pam Reed

Pam Reed is a two time Badwater Ultramarathon winner, a multiple ultramarathon record holder including the 300 mi and 24 hr track, the Tucson Marathon Director as well as a mom and wife. Although she's achieved a lot and certainly an athletic hero, her book is less than inspirational. This may not have been the point of it however (in her defence).
It's basically an autobiography, written as if she's speaking to you. But the voice of the author is very choppy, skipping around from thought to thought and topic to topic. She talks about how energetic she is and that characteristic comes through in her writing as very scattered.
If her life other than her athletic background was exciting and full of unique, captivating stories, this book might have been a great idea. However, it feels like a public diary full of mistakes and selfishness. She even adds quotes from her children about family dynamics and her lack of maternal instinct which made me cringe.
Some amazon reviewers hinted about these negatives points and I still bought the book thinking maybe people were just uptight. I was really interested in hearing about the process and drive of an ultramarathoner. I was curious about her training and about her future goals. But, the book is about her over-idolizing some Olympic gymnast from the 70s as a child, the dissolution of her first marriage, how she is cold emotionally, has difficulty communicating her feelings, how much she and her current husband clash and how hard it is to direct a marathon. Nothing uplifting or inspirational.
I am a little more than halfway through and will finish it just because I paid money for it. If I come across anything worth more than I've described, I will update my review!

Update on my Nathan pack from my 12 mile run today (will review soon): I loved it. I didn't notice any of the previous problems except the bite valve issue. But I read a trick online that you need to twist it as you pull it out and that did seem to help. I also played with it a lot, pulling it in and out before running with it again to loosen it up. I guess you want a tight valve so you don't have leaking but, both times I've ran with it, it's leaked onto my shirt. I always end up with a huge circle of water near my waist. This has been OK since I'm sweating so much anyway, but in the winter time that would suck. Also, if I had any colored beverage like Powerade Zero in there - it could stain clothes. I'm currently thinking about getting a Camelbak Omega reservoir. Everyone seems to say that combo of the excellent Nathan pack and that bladder is the best of two worlds. The only issue there is that you have to rig the reservoir to your pack since it's got different hooks to hold the bladder down. I need to read more about this...

Friday, July 03, 2009

Review: Nathan Intensity 2L hydration pack

4 mile run tonight while the sun was setting.
The rest of my pictures were deleted by an MP who tracked me down on a complaint that I was photographing the base. He took my iPhone, then viewed and deleted the pictures before writing me up. I wasn't even aware that I had been doing something wrong.
A very upsetting end to a nice run.
Anyhow, 12 miles to run down sometime this weekend. I'm feeling a little jaded right now but hopefully I'll get into the spirit soon.

Otherwise in the news, I received my Nathan Intensity 2L hydration pack! I took it on my short run tonight to work out the kinks before really needing it on longer distances.

Didn't bounce.
Small and tight on my back but yet holds more than I even need to carry right now.
Easy to adjust - I think.
Easy to take apart and clean.
Key ring and strap so the keys don't bounce at all in the bag.
Mesh pocket holds my iPhone while I have it on speaker so I can hear music (because you can't wear headphones running on base).

Bite valve was very stiff and I had a difficult time getting a sip and then pushing it back in to lock. This SUCKED. I tried using my fingers and my teeth. It is very difficult to pull out and in on top of having slick sweaty fingers.
I felt rubbing against a piece of plastic under one arm... I'm worried about chaffing and need to look at adjusting it differently if possible.
And lastly, the cords all seemed to loosen up as I ran and I had to keep adjusting them tighter. I am not sure if this is my problem or if the fabric is too slick. I'm really worried about this one because I'm not sure I can knot the cords in place because they'll stick out and rub against my arms I think.
Argh. I really do like this water pack.... It got GREAT reviews all over with only the mention of the bite valve problem. I think there have been complaints about the bladder but I'm wondering if I have an updated model because mine seemed secure. It does slosh, but didn't really move around or slouch - and I definitely didn't notice it beyond hearing water in it.
I'm just not sure if the issues are all me yet or if it's the Nathan design. It was kind of a love/hate run with it tonight and that has me a little worried. I am really, really not a big fan of hand carrying water though, so I'm going to really try to make this work.
I did get a good deal on mine: $69 on Amazon with no tax and no shipping (I got the last one sold by Amazon however). I couldn't find it anywhere local and online it's normally $85 plus possibly the tax/shipping on top!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Eventful 4 miler

Tonight the plan was to run by the Chinook heliport and see the guys take off in their helicopters. Sounded like some good scenery! Furthermore, the weather was awesome at a "cool" -80 degrees!
I arrived at Knox ARMY heliport around 7pm. When I arrived, I saw all the Chinook heli's, maintenance crews, soldiers ...AND firetrucks, ambulances and MP cars!?
My first thought was that either someone had a bad takeoff or there was a electrical fire during their start up.... or something... I debated over my run in case they tried to reach me... Then figured I might as well and just take my phone. Also if I didn't get on the road, I wouldn't make it back in time to see them off. I grabbed my small bottle and phone and took off for the Hanchey ARMY Heliport. The intersection at that field makes 2 miles, for an out-and-back total of 4 miles.
I felt great this run! I had been drinking my sample of (Clif) Luna Sport Electrolyte Splash electrolyte drink. Zero corn syurp and gluten free! I had also had one blueberry luna moon with a lot of water. I had great energy the entire run and no cramping at all.
Half way through they called to see where I was but we had a bad connection since they were in a running helicopter and I was on a country back road. *sigh* I said I was 2 miles down the road at Hanchey which would take at least 20 minutes to get back. Since I could hear the rotor blades turning loudly in the background I figured they were starting up... if so, I didn't know how long I had before they left, especially since they were having to wait on maintanence.
After getting off the phone, I started to run back faster. I was somewhere in the 10 minute mile range. It was starting to get dark and cars were a little more frequent today than on Sunday when I ran the same stretch (but shorter loops). I really wanted to try to see them off and snap a few photos so I pushed it hard. My legs and lungs pretty much max and I'd have to walk here and there, but within seconds I'd remind myself of my goal and run again. No true cramping ever felt in my legs... just a feeling of overwhelming... something... and I'd have to slow down.
By the time I hit the forest before the airfield, all the Chinooks were on full power. The sound was like constant thunder vibrating through the trees. For probably a half mile or more it sounded like the huge helicopter was hovering over my head. I kept thinking I was closer than I really was because the sound was already so loud. Just as I was nearing the edge of the forest two Chinooks took off in front of me. I reached the airfield and saw two more go to a hover before taking off. Then, walking the last bit to my car, another hovered for awhile and took off.
Signs warn passerbys of high wind and I've heard that the breeze from a Chinook can push over motorcycles and cars! They are really powerful with double rotor blades and engines. There were a lot more helicopters on the tarmac and a lot of noise but it was dark, so I couldn't tell if there were anymore helicopters leaving.
Turns out I had finished 4 miles in 52 minutes. The first two miles were a lot more casual than the last two for sure! I can tell by my Garmin stats I was really booking it as well - my heart rate for the last 15 minutes went from the 180 range to 196! My max heart rate is estimated at 185. lol. Yeah,... well, like I said, I was workin it!

Note: I found out later that the emergency vechicles were there because someone fell out or off of a Chinook.