Monday, September 26, 2011

The Need for Speed

Today, I ran four miles through the city and it was HARD. This run was more difficult than most because I have not run in a full eight days, I carried my water bottle in my left hand for the first time ever, I was scared to drink water before and during the run, and I ran much faster than normal. But why did I do all of these things? Here's why...

Eight Days Off

This has been no secret. I was sick all of last week. But it was pretty weird. Eight days is a loooong time. I don't think I have had a no-run streak like that since April... maybe May. And I'm still not 100% better. Breathing wasn't perfect and my head was a little full but at this point, that cold 'aint got nothin on me!

Water in Left Hand

I have been carrying my water bottle in my right hand for the past 8 or 9 weeks. On my long run with Nikki last week, she asked (or maybe I asked her...) whether I would ever switch hands. I didn't think I would. But she carries her water with her left hand. Because she wears her watch on her left wrist and leaves her right hand free to control the watch.

And... drum-roll please....... my garmin came in the mail today. I left it home to charge tonight but plan to test it out tomorrow and I'll be wearing it on my left wrist, the only place I've ever worn a watch. So I've got to figure out what this means for my water. My left harm just isn't as strong as my right.

Scared to Drink Water

First, you must know that I am a crazy freak of a water-drinker. Seriously, water is like air to me. I love it and I need it by my side pretty much always. To most, this would seem wonderful and healthy. To my worrying mother, this poses a potential health concern. She reads stories about people dying from drinking too much water. I always said that could only happen to people who chugged a gallon of water or did and ironman. But now that I'm running half marathons (not an ironman by any means), does she have legitimate cause for concern?

She sent me a gchat this afternoon that read:

Betsy: isn't 200 ounces too much water to drink in a few hours? Shouldn't you drink gatorade? You should look online but I think 200 ounces, which is over 3 gallons is way too much and dangerous.....

At first I was like, WTF are you talking about mom?? And then I realized, she was talking about this. I claimed to have drank 200 ounces of water after my run and soccer game last weekend. That was a total estimation based on the approximate number of water bottles I'd drank and the amount of water they hold. It could have been 150. And it was over about seven or eight hours. So I don't think it's necessarily dangerous. But she does have a point. I should at least do some research and not get carried away with [over]hydrating myself. I normally drink when I'm thirsty. But I am thirsty almost all the time, and even more so when I workout hard.

I did a few google searches and found some interesting and scary things.

From The American Medical Athletic Association, I learned about something called "hyponatremia", a condition in which one's blood sodium concentration falls to an abnormally low level, usually from drinking too much water. Only a handful of people have died from the condition but, apparently, the risk of suffering from it's symptoms during a long race is more common than most people think. It is a hard thing to detect because its symptoms closely resemble those of dehydration. But, when suffering from hyponatremia, hydrating more will only force your body to retain more fluids and can cause your lungs or brain to swell. I won't go into too much scary detail, you can read more for yourself if you're interested. But the bottom line is that there is a danger in drinking too much water. But there's also a danger in drinking too little. I am generally a hyponchondriac and I get scared easily by things my body does that I have no (or little) control over. So I spent a few hours, including after tonight's four miles, worrying that my brain was swelling. But then I realized I can still drink my plentiful share of water and be safe about it. I won't drink until I feel super full, I won't chug as much as I tend to immediately following a run, and I will "Watch out for feelings of confusion, nausea, fatigue, and particularly vomiting or swollen hands and feet", as the article advises. "If [I] experience these, [I will] seek medical help." And hopefully my loving mother will be comfortable with this.

Running Fast!

Last but definitely not least, I ran fast tonight. With my water bottle on the left, I carried my iPhone (which is working again!) in my right hand, instead of on my bulging bicep (teehee), so I could monitor my speed. I ran up or down hill pretty much the whole time. And I pushed hard. I realized that I jog. I usually take downhills as a time to rest. But, for the first time, I'm looking at this race as just that: a race. I am finally seeing this as a sport and not just an activity or exercise. Somehow, I want to run Baltimore with every last ounce of energy I have in me without wearing myself out so much that I can't finish. And in doing so, I want to run it in under two hours. But it's tough, especially to have made this discovery about my relationship with running less than four weeks out from the race. I know it's late and I'm still trying to have a "whatever" attitude but I've said it before and I'll say it again, it doesn't hurt to try.

According to Nike+ for iPhone, I ran exactly 4.0 miles this evening in 35:59, averaging 8'59 minutes per mile. I know that my Nike app tends to say my runs are a little longer than they truly are so I compared with mapmyrun when I got home and it mapped the same route at 4.11 miles! I truly ran four miles in less than 9 minutes each. That was exactly what I needed to believe in my ability to run a sub-two hour half marathon. But the run was also a wake up call. Because there is basically no very little  chance I could have kept up that speed for three times the distance. The good news is that I've got about 8 seconds to spare on each of those miles. I am torn between wanting to test myself and try running 8 or 10 miles at such a fast pace and knowing, through casual readings of runner's world, that many people don't ever run their goal pace in training for a race. But I want to have fun on October 15th and not feel like shit the whole time pushing myself to do something that I'm not even sure I'm capable of.

I have the Garmin now and maybe that will help me figure out my future. I can only dream about the day when I'll be as fast as the sample time on their screen protector. Settin' the bar pretty high, watch, don't you think? You're gonna need to work with me on this...

And now that you've had a [too long] glimpse into my wandering mind, I will leave you with some pictures of the yummy enchiladas verdes and chocolate milk that Josh and I made to re-fuel tonight.

Do you carry water on all runs and workouts? Do you have any fears about over-hydrating or under-hydrating?

1 comment:

  1. This weekend I was talking to a doctor who is training for a marathon - he mentioned that low-sodium condition and told me that's why people take salt tablets at marathons/ironmans, etc. Never realized that TOO much water could be bad... but it makes sense. Try drinking watered-down gatorade or (flavored) coconut water (the plain kind sucks).