Sunday, December 09, 2007

...The Rest of the Story

The marathon sure gave me another ass whooping, but it has been decided that I didn't help matters with my "over thinking" along the way. Let's talk about nutrition:

First off, it scares me to death. I've got to get this thing right sometime between now and 11-1-08. I wasn't going to get a sub 4 marathon yesterday, even if my nutrition had been perfect, but I didn't have to completely do myself in and record a 4:45 either. Here's what happened...

During my training for this marathon, I started out drinking water and Gu on long runs. Michele, Joe and I took turns sitting out Gu and water along the routes. I had a couple of bad experiences where I had to keep a tight squeeze in the butt cheeks in order to avoid a, know what I mean. So I decided the Gu was hurting my stomach. But I also had eaten a banana before these runs, so I immediately said "No more Gu, no more solid food. They are making me need to crap while I run." It coulda been one or the other, but I wasn't taking any chances. So I switched over to drinking OS Endurance before the long runs. And it worked great. OS is supposed to be all the nutrition you need during a run, and it seemed to work very well for me. But for a 20 mile long run, I would fill up 3 - 6 ounce bottles full of OS, and one full of water. I would I would take a couple of sips, on average about every two miles. By the end of the 20 miler I would have drunk all three OS bottles and half of the water bottle. That would be 21 ounces total, for a 3+ hour run. While I never had any GI issues, I also never really had too much left at the end. So this whole time I've been a little worried at the prospect of running another 10k after my usual 20 miler. Still worried about it the day before the marathon, I get out my Advanced Marathoning book, and reread Pfitz's nutrition section. I am amazed when I realize that he says I should be drinking about 3 times what I have been used to drinking. He says the stomach can normally process about 7 oz per 15 minutes. I start adding it up and realize I have not been drinking enough in training runs. I had already given my dad the job of having 3 more bottles ready for me at mile 20, but I call him and tell him to meet me at mile 18 instead.

I had also experimented with the OS Preload drink some during training, but just a little. When you are getting up on a Friday morning at 3:30 to run a 20 miler, though, there's really not a lot of time to eat anything beforehand, if you want to sleep any. So I'd usually take a few drinks of the preload and head out. No problems. Definitely better than the banana. So on race night, I set my alarm for 4:40 a.m. and began drinking the preload so that I could get as much down as possible. The preload has protein, which should regulate the rate my body would use glycogen. That's what I'm most worried about here - burning up all my glycogen before mile 26. I get about 16 oz of preload down prerace, and felt fine with it.

So I start running. I drink a little to begin with just for good measure. Then around mile 2 I take another sip, to keep myself fresh. Around mile 3, I am wanting another drink, so I take my normal couple of sips. By mile 5, I can tell I'm working too hard and my heart rate is too high. I knew the humidity was high, but I am hoping I can remedy this with hydration and more carbs. So I drink more OS. And I even throw in a water at a rest stop along the way. By mile 14 I have already drank 2.5 bottles of OS (15 oz) and a few sips of water and Gatorade from rest stops. Now, while this (prob 20-22 oz total)is not even half of what Pfitz recommends, it's quite a bit more than what I normally drink during a long run. My stomach starts to cramp around mile 16.5, I become nauseated around mile 18.5, and at 19.2 I was violently launching all that "energy" into someone's yard, and all over mine and Holly's (bless'er heart) shoes. It was bad. And it was at the very least, a total of 22 oz. But a few minutes afterward, I felt better. My mom said the color was now back in my face, and I was smiling and still confident I would finish. But I couldn't keep anything else down. Every time I would take a drink, I'd get sick again. My lower back started to hurt so bad that I would have to stop and bend over for a minute or two at a time. Then I realized it hurt my back less to run than walk, because the back pain while walking was excruciating. I had that feeling like I had the know when your back aches and you hurt all over. However, after running for a minute or so I'd be so out of breath I'd have to stop again. This is how I made it to the finish line...walking/shuffling/taking tiny sips of water or Gatorade to wet my throat a little. I didn't urinate the entire time. As a matter of fact, I wasn't able to until 8:30 that night. And this may be TMI, but it was dark and almost the consistency of a light syrup. I think I might have really been dehydrated, or at least on the verge. And what's up with that back pain? As soon as I got some food, water and a lemonade in me, my back felt better.

Back to my hydration plan, though, I obviously drank more than my stomach could was used to and could handle. So am I not drinking enough during training runs and need to train my body to drink more? Or do I not need nearly as much as Pfitz says, and I need to stick with what I've always done? And the solid food pre-race/pre-longrun - should I, or shouldn't I? How much of all of it is enough and how much is too much? Will the Gatorade Endurance at the rest stops be adequate for 26.2 miles, or do I need to tote my own mixture to make sure I have the right carb ratio? Or - do I need to quit over analyzing all of it and just run like hell?!?!

Aside from all my questions - I want to say a couple more things about Rocket City. First, if you haven't done this race - you really need to put it on your list. It was the most well prepared event I've ever been a part of. There were an amazing amount of volunteers, and they really took care of each and every runner. Everything was extremely well organized and the shirt was the best ever - a long sleeve nike tech shirt! And they also gave you a nice finishers hat at the end. The post race food was amazing, too. I've done CMM and Vegas, and this marathon was head over heels better then either of them.

I also want to say congrats to Michele, David, Lisa, Wayne, Darrell, Wes and Joe who also ran/walked/shuffled/whatever-it-took their ways to the finish line as well. All of you guys ROCK!


Ewen said...

I'd advise doing what you do on long training runs.

You can't eat/drink the same sort of things you would on a long bike ride.

Perhaps practise with plain water with a Gu after 2 hours, then another every 30 minutes or so, washed down by water. Or... a very dilute gatorade solution.

You can run a marathon pretty much of stored carbohydrate, then 'fat burning' in the latter stages. The main thing is not to get dehydrated.

Tri4Christ said...

Sorry I never saw you at the race. I also had a bad day (44 minutes over my goal). I know the feeling of the back pain. Around mile 23, I was having to stop and bend also. The back actually felt better running, but the quads couldn't handle the running!

Lauren said...

A year or so ago, when I was going to do the ING Georgia Full, I went to a seminar here in Atl by some sports nutritionist/marathoner. (I have her book, just not with me, and her name is escaping me...)

Anyway, she said, no matter how bad your nutritional routine is - do not change ANYTHING on race day. Your body is already going to take a beating, and changing what you have trained it to 'make do' with - will make the race worse. In fact, she says that if you're not training with the "traditional pasta dinner" the night before a long run, that you should even skip that part of the festivities...

Sorry your race wasn't as great as you'd hope. You'll kick the next one's ass.

John said...

I'm sorry to hear about your day, Lana, but, it's a far greater achievement to have finished a race that went badly than breeze through to a PR on an easy day.

As for the nutrition, I'd take another look at the protein in your drink - a lot of people (myself included) cannot tolerate protein mid-run (or mid-bike, for that matter). Protein takes longer to digest, and can actually interfere with the normal digestive process during exercise.

Try going with another protein-free drink before and during your runs, and see how you feel with that.

If the poopy issue returns, you might also try a different type drink/gel - one that uses a different type of sugar.

Congrats again, and I look forward to reading about your next race.

Wes said...

LAAAAANAAA :-) You ROCK girl!!! Sorry to hear you had "issues" too. I think the humidity did a lot of people in. There was a ton of cramping and hydration issues. I was taking endurolytes every hour and it didn't help me. I hadn't cramped on a single one of my 20 mile runs either. My conclusion? The same as yours. I didn't drink enough fluids, and the humidity and breeze for the first 8 miles masked the amount I was sweating it out.

As far as your back pain goes, it may have been your kidneys...

I agree with you 100%. It was a fabulous race put on by a fabulous community. I'm sorry I didn't get to meet you, but I suspect we'll run into each other again long before IM FL 08.

Happy training :-)

Rice said...

Nothing can shut you down faster then GI issues.. Same thing happened to me when I went for a 3:15 finish in the valley last year.. was right on track for the fist half then I was done in..

good show..



Lisa said...

I agree, RC is very well organized but for me it's tainted. I have very bad luck there. ha!

Sounds like your body was trying to do too much at one time. I agree, kidneys. And, yes! My urine looked like gatorade until yesterday morning. I walked and drank through nearly every single fluid station because of the humidity. You're not overanalyzing, you are just trying to learn from it and that's a good thing. Analyze away!

momo said...

lana - first of all - congratulations on your finish. you should be VERY PROUD of yourself for continuing on when you felt so bad - you've got that iron spirit, girl.

secondly, on the nutrition - i'm absolutely in the category of people who cannot do the protein before/during a run or ride. it makes me have to go immediately - which is not ever convenient. :-)

i also stopped the bananas before, because that seemed to do it too. during a run, i will do only water and gu. on the bike, i do carbo pro and gel. nothing solid.

you definitely need to find what works, and its going to be a process of more trial and error - but that's what the training cycle should help you work through.

also one final thought - have you done a vo2 max test? mine gave me a breakdown of the number of calories/hour i needed to consume (its different for everyone) and it showed me that i was trying to take in too many, which was probably also contributing to the stomach upset.

you'll find it. in the meantime, rest up from the weekend!!

Joe said...

Lana, great analysis. You'll figure all this out.

Reading the many reports on the day, it is looking like the pain and nausea was more normal than I first thought. Small comfort, indeed, but the weather had to have something to do with it.

Great report!

TJ said...

don't be too discouraged about the nutrition thing. i think it takes everyone a while to figure it out. it took me a year or so of trial and error. i tried the protein route(accelerade), lots of different gels, sports drinks and solid foods. the combination that worked for me in the end turned out to be pretty simple....gatorade endurance, carbbom gels (kiwi strawberry) and water. that's it. that's what i used in training, bike and run, and didn't change a thing on race day. the great thing about using gatorade endurance is it'll be out on the course at imfl.
when i was trying to nail down my plan, i ordered a gel variety pack (from i think) and was able to find the gel that worked.

it does sound like you are taking in too little hydration. in training and racing, i took in 2-3gels, 1 large bottle of GE (24oz) and about a half bottle of water per hour on the bike. on the run i'd try to get in a cup of water and GE at each station and 2 gels per hour.

try increasing your hydration a small amount at a time and see how you handle it.

everyone is different though. what works for me may not work for you.
in the end, you have to take everyones advice for what it is, and then find what works for you .....and practice it over and over in training.

good luck figuring it out!

RunBubbaRun said...

You did do a great job on completing the race..

For long events nutrtion is always a crap shoot. You probably need to experiment what will work for you only. Everybody is so different. It can even change year after year.. But do stick what you are used to.

I used to over analysize nutrtion, but I like the Peter Reid's comments the best on the topic. ~ "keep it simple".

I have stuck with that and it has helped me in my ultras and IM races.

TriSaraTops said...

I am so sorry that I'm so behind on blogs--I didn't even get to wish you good luck! :( But I was thinking about you guys this weekend.

CONGRATULATIONS on making it to the finish of another marathon. Your experience is just that much more money in the bank for IM next year. I know you must be disappointed but know that we are all proud of you out here.

Bubba's right--nutrition is so personal that I can't really even give you advice here, except to try as much as you can until you find what works. I had to try lots of different stuff before I settled in on Carbo Pro on the bike, Hammer gel and Enduralytes on the run. At the very least, you learned what did NOT work this weekend and in some of your training runs, so that is good to know for next year.

All three of your boys look so proud of you in the last pic. I hope my son gets to meet me at the end some day like yours did. You still rock, chica.

Darrell said...

Lana, so much to think about. I can't even imagine keeping it all balanced for a full IM. All I know is keep working on it and you'll get it right.

You and the others have got me thinking about that prerace banana. I didn't have one at RC and it was the first time in a long time that my gut actually cooperated during a race. From now on I'm bannin' the banana til post race/run and will see how things go (so to speak).

LeahC said...

I didn't read all the comments, so this was probably already said. Do whatever you do on your training runs. Everyone is different and if your hydration plan was working fine during your long runs then it probably would have been fine in the marathon. I don't feel that I need nearly as much hydration/fuel as some people. You just need to do what you works for you. I only take 2 gus + gatorade about every 5 miles during a long run, which is a lot less than most people. In martahon pasts I have taken gatorade every 5 miles and just one gu about 3/4 of the way through. So just stick with what works for you, also if you think you need more fuel, then start training taking more so your body can be used to it on race day.

DV said...

know what? you made it to the starting line - victory...
you made it to the finish line.. victory.

you'll get your time, you'll get your nutrition. it will happen, and you will be on top of the world when it does...

stay stubborn and it will happen.

Joe said...

I have no advice but I did want to say that your "tight squeeze in the butt cheeks" comment was hilarious.

IronJenny said...

One word.
Two more words:
Trust me!!!

E-Speed said...

I'm so sorry your day didn't go as planned. Sounds a lot like my stomach distress at Cinci last year. I guess these less than ideal days are what make the good ones that much better. I hope you are able to figure out a nutrition plans that gets you to the finish line fast. You are definitely ready for sub 4.

Rae said...

I'm also in the boat with those who can't do a lot of protein pre or during a race. Bananas, peanut butter, bagels all send me to the side puking. I've found that muffins are the best thing for me prerace. Have you tried any of the Clif Bloks or new Luna Moons? I've found I can't do go, so a few of those every 5 miles works for me.