Monday, June 30, 2008

Weekend Wondering for a Muggy Monday

Running was on my mind a great deal this weekend. In some ways it’s good because I really need to refocus and rededicate myself to training again after the short hiatus I took on my San Fran trip and my subsequent illness. In other ways it’s not because it’s real easy to overthink things, make unnecessary changes and assume the doomsday scenario just because of a few recent bad runs. With this in mind, allow me to share a few thoughts I’ve had this weekend…

It’s been more than 48 hours since Saturday’s almost disastrous 5 mile race. All I’ve been able to think about is how close I came to collapsing on the ground and passing out in the last half mile. I’m somewhat embarrassed that me, a seasoned road racer and a medical professional, could ignore all the warning signs of heat stroke and jeopardize my health like that. It goes to show the powerful influence the runner’s brain can have over a person, especially during a race. But now that I’ve had a chance to think about it, I realize that there are some simple rules I can follow to prevent this predicament from ever happening again: 1. Always hydrate well before the race. On especially hot days, bring some along with you for the course. 2. Pay attention to my heart rate monitor to make sure I am not above my target zone in the first few miles. 3. Recognize when I’m coming up on my anaerobic ‘wall’ and prepare to negotiate. 4. Be extra weary of summer road races. (In my case, I’m voting to skip all races held in temps above 80 degrees at the start).

The best part of yesterday’s race was afterwards when I met and struck up an interesting conversation with a new teammate. As we walked home, we commiserated with each other on the brutal course conditions. He also shared some valuable information with me on the San Francisco Marathon Course while I recounted for him my fantastic run over the Golden Gate last week. It turns out he had been a resident of that city for 10 years and knew the area well. He told me he often biked over the bridge when he used to live there, but had never run it personally. Later on in the conversation, he revealed that all his race PR’s happened during the time he was in California and not once yet in New York. Before parting ways, I shared with him some speed drills that had been successful for me in the past. After he left, I couldn’t help noticing the coolest part of that whole long conversation was that we never spoke once about our race times. As such, we had no idea who was the faster one between us, and for all intents and purposes, it didn’t matter. It confirmed my belief that speed, as it relates to an individual’s knowledge and talent in the sport, is really overrated.

Looking over my schedule, I suddenly realize that the following two weeks will mark the peak of marathon training. What that means is that I’m going to be running the highest mileage at the fastest pace during the next two weeks. There are two 20-milers scheduled on back-to-back weeks with some track sessions in between to break up the monotony. Since I’ve resigned to the fact that I inevitably turn into a puddle of water whenever I try to run in the sun, for at least the next two weeks, I’ve made the executive decision to switch my training to the early morning. Waking at 4 and 5 am will have to be the norm now instead of the exception. I’ll have to juggle a few things around in terms of work, but at least this way, I won’t have to worry about fitting in my workout for the rest of the day.

It’s been a long time coming, but yesterday, I finally did something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Explore the dirt trails and bridges of Central Park. Who knew you could actually run around the park without having to use the actual loop? Even though it was a bit muddy at parts because it had rained the day before, it was so fun running all the tracks and trails that are ordinarily hidden from view. Some of the views were actually quite spectacular for where it was located. At times, I felt almost completely lost in the foliage and could’ve sworn that I was actually hundreds of miles away from home. If you live around my area, I highly recommend you take this map with you and do some exploring of your own!

Finally, have any of you been following the Olympic Trials going on right now in Eugene, Oregon? I was hooked ever since the first night, when I watched the race for the women’s 5,000 meters. I was completely awed by how Amy Begley had to not only beat out 5 other competitors to take third place (behind Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher), but also had to run a distance PR, including an incredibly fast 400m, to get under the Olympic Standard A Qualifying Time (by1.4 secs!) and earn her spot on the Olympic Team. What an incredibly riveting finish! It’s no wonder that I went out too fast on my own 5 mile race the next day! Can you blame me?

For those who missed the show, here's the call and the race recap. You’re welcome! Consider it my present for your work week!


nwgdc said...

i've never been one to watch track on tv, but with finishes like that one and the men's 800 finish, i'm hooked!

Xenia said...

I am also switching to REALLY early morning running for the next couple of weeks. At least for most of my runs. We'll share in the pain together.

Non-Runner Nancy said...

I had my own case of runner's brain yesterday, really really dumb. Decided I should run and not hydrate in order to turn in the lowest possible weight for a weight challenge I did. Brilliant, eh? I paid dearly with the worst headache I've ever had in my life. I'm not proud.

Nitmos said...

I've been loving the Olympic trials. I hope the Olympics themselves are equally as riveting. (crossing fingers for good tv coverage)

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