Sunday, June 24, 2012

Volunteering, Dehydration, Paranoia and a Race

I haven't been updating my blog although a lot has been going on. For example:

June 17th - I was a volunteer at a water table for the Vancouver USA Marathon and Half Marathon. The table was run by firefighters that graciously allowed me to help out there at mile 20 and what a GREAT experience it was. I saw young runners, old runners, elite athlete runners, obese runners. And I saw courage and determination in a way I had never seen it before! The heat was something no one was prepared for and it was evidently a nasty challenge for quite a few runners. But they carried on. In my six hours there, I saw only ONE person take advantage of the first aid station and request a ride back. I got to see people I have trained with, and I got to see friends I met through blogs. Will *I* ever run a full marathon? No. I really don't think so. But, I am all the more ready to take on my Half Marathon in October after having been inspired by this experience. Here is a photo of me and Heather.


June 20th - It was hot out at the track and I have not become acclimated to heat yet. My assignment was to run ten 400's with 30 second breaks and I ran eleven.

I had a 12 ounce bottle of diluted Gatorade with me. By the 3rd lap my shirt was drenched in sweat and I had used up all my drink before the last laps. My heart rate got high on the last two laps. My throat was dry but I was still sweating so I thought nothing of it and then I walked 3 miles with Shelly (and Heather when she arrived a bit later).

I got into my car and it was like walking into an oven. There was hot water in a cup in my console and if I were smart, I would have drank it. I wasn't smart. I drove off and quickly realized I had a problem. I WAS SEEING DOUBLE! I had never had this happen before and it scared me. I kept thinking it would remedy itself immediately and it didn't. I came to a section of road that had no where to turn off and park as I entered a construction zone going over a freeway. I could NOT tell for the life of me if I was seeing two lights or four. I could barely make anything out and drove through. I found I could drive with one eye closed and it helped. This lasted 20 minutes and then went away. I drank a TON of fluids at home and was very frightened.

I called the nurses station and they told me it sounded like dehydration but I should really see a doctor to rule out stroke or other neurological possibilities. I went to the doctors the next morning. She checked out my vitals and listened to my heart. She said she believes it was 'just dehydration' and said you CAN be suffering from dehydration and still be able to sweat. She also said that I need to treat 80 temps here, the same as I would 100 temps in the desert because of the humidity....and by the way....I was her third runner that she had seen that morning, suffering from heat related issues from runs the night before.

Prescription: CARRY MORE FLUIDS and because I do sweat so much, use sports drinks verses water.


June 21st - 22nd - Paranoia sets in - HARD. I felt a strong heat/burning sensation on the top of my head a few hours after I left the doctors office. It was an isolated spot on the right side. It was really weird and it was uncomfortable without being painful. It came and went throughout the entire day. I started wondering if maybe my doctor had missed something. Maybe I did something seriously bad to my health the night before. Maybe I pushed myself too hard. Should I run the race this weekend? WHY am I being paranoid about my health now, when I was never like this as a couch potato? I wasn't even paranoid about my health during my drug years which is when I SHOULD have been. This made no sense to me at all and I had a really rough time dealing with all this. I didn't know if I should call a shrink or see my doctor. I then started wondering if maybe this is all some form of migraine (as I had my first aural migraine last month) and did neither.

The weird burning sensations on that same spot of my head lasted through out the next two days up until just two hours just before the race.


June 23rd:  Race day! Lots of photos to follow.

It was pouring rain out just hours before the 6PM run was to start. I still hadn't been to a race in pouring rain and feared today was the day. I wasn't sure what I was going to wear until the last minute. Luckily, the race was relatively dry until the last block of the 6 mile course. I stayed very hydrated with my two bottles AND taking water at each station. The course was mostly flat, and using my heart rate to determine my pace for most of it made for a nice run. There was at least two runners highs. YAY! My only aches and pains were on the incline going through the Barracks area when my left shin started hurting - but I ran through it and it stopped.

My Garmin download said I hit a heart rate max of 182 and I had NO idea how it did that as I was watching it pretty closely after all my health issues the last week. Per Garmin, it occurred at the finish line so THAT makes sense. I got to go to the winners podium as I placed third in my age group. Standing on any winners podium was a first for me. Also, this is the first race I ran with my friend Christine where I actually saw her for most of the race. She beat me by 3 minutes and 35 seconds. Last month on our 10K she beat me by 6 minutes 45 seconds. I hope to be able to run WITH her some day. That would be nice.

Me and Christine before the race

Cutest racer there - #209!

The Start Line...

My Strategy since I have pacing problems with fast people around me:
Start WAY in the back and do my own thing,
which resulted in me passing a lot of people later.

Approaching the riverside area, and about 
to run under the 5 Freeway

Running along the Columbia River...
I had the greatest runners' high here.

The clouds started coming back at around mile 4

Live band played Lenny Kravitz's "Go My Way"
as I crossed the finish line. 

Hot Pulled Pork Sandwich and Cole Slaw 
for the post run meal

My first medal - bottle opener
(which all 6 mile runners earned)

Me on the Division Winners podium
3rd place F 50-54
(out of 7 but that is still great!)

OHH!!! I have to share my rookie mistake!

As soon as I finished the course, we went to the car and grabbed our money, then went and sat down to a hot meal for an hour or more. When I went to stand up again, it hurt like HECK! My legs were one giant cramp. I had never had post run pain like that before and then it dawned on me - dumb me forgot to walk out and stretch out when I finished. Seriously. How stupid! I have NEVER done that before and after what I felt I never will again.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cool Coincidence! (Nerdy Numbers)

Nerdy numbers running stuff that is really cool to me:

I ran 3.2 easy miles last night and 6.18 easy miles tonight. Different routes. Different hills.

The cool thing is that per Garmin, I had the same EXACT average heart rate in both workouts, and the same EXACT max heart rate in both. That isn't something you can just make happen. I then noticed I had a very similar easy run (stat wise) in May!

Also, all three runs were in a pace average of within 8 seconds of each other.

And, as slow as they all felt, they were all faster than every race (including Shamrock) through May of this year.

I am trying a LONG run on Saturday to see what happens.

Here is a snippet of my Garmin stats page.

By the way - today's run? A-MAZ-ING!!! It was my favorite run of the year. I had runners highs on and off throughout all of it. Even towards the end. The weather was PERFECT! Blue skies, puffy white clouds and a cool breeze. Wildflowers were everywhere. This was a run that was supposed to be "2 to 3 miles" but I just kept on going. I wish I had planned better and had packed more fluids. Going long on Saturday after all the graduation guests leave.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Another Runner Died

Warning - Seriously Heavy Stuff & Babbling

I heard today that a young man died running in a Half Marathon race. This one was a 40 yr old in Bend, Oregon.  I guess the course was hilly trails and medics had to run 4 miles in because there was no actual known location. I would think with water tables every 2 miles surely SOMEONE could have radioed in better instructions?

Sorry - freaking out.

My first race in Vancouver was on Thanksgiving day last year. Another young male runner, also in his 40's I believe, passed away from complications following his collapse/attack shortly into the course. I will never forget seeing him being tended to or the sounds I heard as I passed. I ran his memorial run on New Years morning at sunrise.

It never surprises me when crack addicts die. But, it surprises me every time a runner does. Yeah, I know that these are often caused by unknown genetic defects. But still, these are runners. Not wino's in an alley on a cold December night.

This is always hard to hear and my being older and more out of shape than many runners makes it scary, too. I am 50 years old and 16 pounds over my goal weight.

Luckily, I had a full stress and echo test done by a cardiologist before I began running and I called her again in December after learning that the Thanksgiving runner had died.. But still, maybe I should have another after I have been running a year? Just to make sure?

I do hit some crazy heart rate numbers out there.

  • The charts say my MAX HEART RATE is 170

  • My target zone per the charts is (I kid you not) "93 to 144" beats per minute on 85% max runs.

  • My heart rate standing in line to start running the Shamrock Run was 122 before I lifted a foot. Based on those charts, I was way up into my 85% mark after standing in one place for 15 minutes (I hate crowds and was very anxious).

  • I typically run between 165-174 in my 'easy to medium' zone based on perception. Even after over an hour of running when that crawls up to 170-177 I am just starting to feel exhausted at that pace. I make myself slow or walk when I hit 180 because then I am usually feeling exhausted and because yeah, I am paranoid.

  • My heart rate hit 187 yesterday morning when I sprinted over the finish line mats! I felt FINE. No pain, no dizziness, no tingling, and no disorientation. I dropped all the way down to 144 in just a few short strides to the water and banana's. 

  • My resting heart rate is 54-56. Sometimes the day after a race it might be 60.

My cardiologist who did the stress tests said she didn't see anything wrong with these numbers if I wasn't feeling chest pain, numbness, dizzy, tingly or disoriented. I DID feel disoriented when I hit 191 in the Jingle Bell run finish which brings up another point. If my heart rate max per a chart is 170, how the heck am I alive?

Stupid charts.

I just wish sad news like today's news didn't have me wondering if the charts aren't so stupid after all. I hate second guessing myself.

My sincerest thoughts go out to his family. I can't imagine the pain and shock they must be feeling. I can only hope he told them the same thing I told mine after that Thanksgiving run last year - I loved them, and if I never make it back from a race, please know I was doing something I really enjoyed.  Then again, I am betting his family didn't need to be told how much he enjoyed running. That is something that is pretty hard to hide from loved ones. Isn't it?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Run Like A Girl

Lots of photos below, so if you aren't into reading - feel free to scroll down.

My News Years Resolutions included running a 5K race at a pace that was under 11 minutes per mile. Back when I made that list, I had been running 5K's at paces of 12:44 - 12:49. The reason I joined the Get Fit Live Fit running program was to become strong enough to hit that goal pace of under 11:00.

I had a fairly decent run two weeks ago at my first 10K (6.2 mile) run. With a pace of 11:35 I got to thinking maybe I COULD run a 5K (3.1 miles) under 11:00 now. So that night, I signed up for the RUN LIKE A GIRL 5K.

I wasn't entirely sure how smart it was wearing clothing to this race that I had never run in before. I mean, you are always being told to never do that. However, this morning I wore my new Livestrong shirt and *tadah* a sparkly black and gold ribboned tulle tutu! Also, I put on a black non-ventilated cap that I used once and found too hot. So....why did I put it on today? Because it matched my outfit, silly!

Got to the race and was so relieved to find the weather was beautiful!!

I was also relieved to find a lot of tutu's there. Also, there were super hero costumes, a cabana dancer, harem dancers, and men in drag. There was even a group of high school boys from the Evergreen High School Cross Country team in drag. There was a lot of costumes. I felt not so out of place in my first run with a tutu.

My goal today was to start more towards the back and to start smart. I put on Lionel Ritchie's song EASY as I approached the starting mats...I was calm. I was cool. I started my watch and MapMyWalk as I crossed the mats. I had this under control.

Then.....I got STUPID and starting over thinking. The throng I was in felt incredibly slow so I put it into gear and cut through and around them. It didn't feel like I was speeding but when I looked down at my Garmin watch, it said I was running a 9 minute pace and my heart rate was already up to 171.

From then on, it was a MENTAL battle. A disgustingly over-thought, difficult MENTAL battle.

My legs had been feeling sluggish all week. Today? They felt magical and invincible and ready to win. My knees felt perfectly fine. But my heart rate kept going UP.

When I run, I always slow down as I near a HR of 180. I have gone to 191 as recently as last December, but I don't want to do that. After having a full echo/stress heart exam with a cardiologist and being given the thumbs up (and after being told I have a resting heart rate of 54 and a "rabbit's heart" that accelerates and decelerates very rapidly) I set myself a limit of 180 excepting the final kick in a race. Today, I was constantly hitting 180. It was MADDENING! Time after time I was pulling back when I felt strong. It was making me crazy. WHY was it so high?

I thought maybe it was dehydration as I was sweating a lot and it can increase your HR so I guzzled 8 ounces of Gatorade.

I thought maybe it was my overheating as my head was on fire from that darned black hat, so I took it off and carried it.

Still, the heart rate remained a battle for me. I had given up on this run thinking there was NO WAY I would meet my goal and would have to try another 5K. There I was at the 2.5 mile mark having a pity party wanting to kick it and having to hold back as two young kids raced past me.

Coming to the finish, I decided to heck with my watch. I am running to my comfort level and kicking it in to the end. My watch said I hit 187 at the very end but I felt GREAT and had no dizziness, disorientation or tingling. I was fully functional and talking to people.  I am going to assume I didn't do any damage.

My Garmin and my MapMyWalk were at war with each other but BOTH said I met my goal. So, I waited for the official results to be posted. WOOHOOO!!! I had an official time of  32:29 which matched my Garmin and an official pace of 10:28 which was one second faster than what MapMyWalk said.

Now I have my speed goal out of the way, I can focus on adding many miles to my base for my next goal - running a Half Marathon in October.