Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Race Recap: Endless Summer 6 Hour Run

I knew this run was set to be a hot one. As race day approached, record highs were being busted all across the Mid-Atlantic. To say the least, I was not looking forward to running in such conditions. Summer is probably my least favorite time of the year to train and race. The body simply doesn't perform as well in warmer temperatures. But, as always, I looked forward to the challenge!

The race took place at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, Maryland on a 4.15 mile looped course. My goal for the race was to run a 50K, which is a little over 31 miles. Before the race started, all runners were required to have their weights checked and printed on their bibs. At the 2 and 4 hour mark, we were instructed that we would have to weight in again to make sure our weights were within the tolerances of acceptable weight loss. If it was not, the runner would be pulled from the race.

The race started at 7:30, but the early start didn't help much as the temperature was already pushing 90 degrees. I was practically sweating before I even took my first stride! I decided to wear my hydration pack to ensure I always had a supply of water to continue to hydrate with. The first lap was uneventful and I completed it in about 40 minutes. After reloading with some Gatorade and a Gu, I was off for my next lap.

I finished my second lap with about 4 1/2 hours remaining in the race. Passing through the aid station, a medic asked how I was feeling. The tone of her voice led me to believe that she seemed concerned (Maybe because I was already drenched in sweat?). I told her I felt good. She suggested I take a couple salt tablets to keep my sodium levels in check. After popping the salt tablets and munching on half of a PB&J, I set off for my next lap.

The 3rd lap is when I noticed I wasn't feeling so good. In a previous post, I mentioned how eating and drinking on the run is a balancing act. If you don't eat/drink enough, you're gonna crash out.  But, if you eat/drink too much, you risk upsetting your stomach. Well, I was certainly feeling the latter of the two. Needless to say, it was a bit of a slow going on the 3rd lap.

I completed my 3rd lap around the 2-hour mark. At the aid tent, I was instructed by the medical personnel to go weight in. My weight before the start was 185 pounds. At my first weight in, I was already down to 181 pounds. I was told that I was pushing the limits of being too under weight.

After taking a little extra time to hydrate, I headed out for my 4th lap. Things didn't get much better for me, in fact, things only seemed to get progressively worse...very frustrating. I was soaked head to toe in sweat. I felt I had reached a point where I couldn't keep up with my sweat loss. My stomach was packed full of water and Gatorade and I felt if I took another sip, I'd get sick. Long story short, my body was telling me, "Yep, we are done for the day Doug."

I finished my 4th lap a little over the 3 hour mark, with 16.5 miles clocked on my watch. I hopped on the scale to see what my weight was and I had lost another pound. Not good. I stood at the aid tent for about 10 minutes contemplating whether or not to continue. I had never dropped out of a race I started, and the thought of doing so did not sit well with me. Yet, I knew to continue in the state I was in was not a wise idea. In running, you have to know your limits and I had exceeded mine that day. However, it was still very hard for me to walk up to the starters table and inform them I was dropping from the race.

Looking back, I have no regrets for dropping out. It was the right decision. Sure, that evening (after a solid 4 hour nap) I was pretty bummed I hadn't finished, but better to live to run another day, right?

My next scheduled race is the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon in early October. But, knowing me, I'll find something to run in between now and then!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Why Do You Run?

It's a question I'm asked often, especially when people hear some of the distances I enjoy to run. But, to be quite honest, I hate being asked that question for a couple reasons.... 1) It's a difficult question to answer in one sentence and 2) if I'm explaining it to someone who does not have an appreciation and/or understanding of running, they tend to dismiss my answer (not always) and call me crazy.

Well, I decided to take a little time a try to explain why I run. So here goes....

1) To take a break from reality. I'm amazed at how easily I can detach myself from reality when I go for a run. It's as if I check out from life and check back in when I take that last stride. Running can be a very liberating experience. Also, I connect the most with my dad when I'm out running. His presence is always more noticeable when I'm running. He is my source of strength and without him in my soul, I'd be only half the runner I am today.

2) Exploration. My favorite run is one where I have no set route. I just head out the door and go. It's nice to let the roads and paths lead you from time to time. You'd be surprise how much more you can discover when you're on foot.

3) My health. Stay active, stay healthy. Sit on your butt and, well...you get my point. I might suggest running to someone looking for something new to try, but I understand that some people don't find running appealing. If running isn't your thing, find an activity you do enjoy and STICK WITH IT! Your body will thank you later.

4) Self-Satisfaction. I said it in one of my previous blogs, but I'll say it again. The reason I run is for self-satisfaction. I'm doing this for no one but myself. Nobody told me to go out a run my first marathon over 3 years ago. I made that choice and was determined to complete that goal for me and me only. Since that first marathon, running has brought so much happiness to my life. Running was once a form of exercise... now, it's a lifestyle!

5) To test human endurance. As I said above, running is both physical and mental. The mental aspect of running is more prevalent on a long run (for me) than it is on a short one. When I reflect on my 12 hour endurance race, the last few hours of the race were so much more mental than physical. Sure, my body hurt like hell, but the pain was the least of my concerns. My mind was screaming at me to stop! For me, the biggest challenge of endurance is to ignore those thoughts. In the end, we always find out we can do more than we ever thought possible!

This is by far one of my favorite quotes about pushing your limits:

"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be." - Patanjali

6) To inspire others. I hope that my running inspires other to get out there and achieve their goals, be it a running one or any other type of goal. If you have the will, desire and passion, you can achieve any goal you set out to accomplish. 

These are just some of the reasons why I run. Frankly, I could talk someones ear off about running if they cared to listen. But, I think this blog will have to do for now!