Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Learned Something Yesterday

I felt good starting off yesterday. Started running at Tumalo Falls just before 9am on a big 18+ mile loop. Went up Bridge Creek trail and cut over to South Fork. Alternately hiked/ran South Fork. Two years ago I think I hiked all of South Fork and thought it was really hard. Not now. Not after all I’ve experienced in the last two years. I’m fairly certain I ran more of it than I hiked this time. I had my first gel at 45 minutes while hiking South Fork. I remember thinking it felt past time for a gel, even though I don’t usually take one until an hour into a run.

I’d made it my goal to run all the rolling hills between Swampy and Swede shelters. I did that, but at a cost. I didn’t want to take the time to stop for a second gel (I stopped taking gels “on the run” after choking on one) and compromise my goal of running the rollers. I should have just stopped for a minute. I thought, “only 1.3 more miles to Swede, I’ll take one there.” That was the longest 1.3 miles of my life! I thought I’d learned this lesson before. Well, today just confirmed it.

Not far out of Swede I started feeling sleepy. This has happened to me a lot lately, usually around 8-10 miles in a long run. (Maybe this is why I tend to get “low” points in races in the 10-13 mile range too.) I felt kind of spacey and lightheaded. I tripped and fell at 7.25 miles, skinning both knees a bit. I hate that sprawling, falling, suspended-in-time feeling; that “oh shit!” thought that runs through your head just before you wonder how you’re going to land this time.

Man it hurt! Not a lot of blood, but a lot of dirt. I got up, assessed the damage, shook it off, walked a bit, then tripped and almost went down again. This really flustered me. My confidence was gone. So I decided I should just hike for a while. I hiked maybe 1.5 miles, almost to the Shooting Star shelter, crying and feeling sorry for myself.

During this time I got smart though: I took a gel. And another. And a couple more with 2x caffeine. I started carefully trotting again, and was able to pay better attention to the trail. I had taken five gels in just more than an hour. (No, my stomach was not bothered. Thankfully I have never had any stomach issues while running.) By 10 miles in I was feeling much better. By 13 miles in, I was feeling confident and strong again. It helped that the couple of miles between Shooting Star and the Skyliner trail were nice downhill. Then I ran all the rollers on Skyliners Trail, then all the rollers on the Tumalo Creek trail back to Tumalo Falls. My confidence was back, and I felt strong! I don’t think I’ve ever run all those rollers before (and the ones Swampy to Swede too!), but I did today. I was amazed how I was able to turn a really bad run around and finish happy and strong.

Starting tomorrow I’m going to modify my gel frequency schedule, and start taking them sooner. What worked for me a year ago isn’t working now. My body just seems to be going through the gels like crazy. I am not the same person I was before. I am different mentally and physically, and all new cells. Bodies are not static, but always changing.

I learned some valuable lessons yesterday. 1) Don’t wait for a landmark (aid station, trail junction) or a certain time period to go by to take a gel if I’m already starting to feel like I need one. 2) My mind might say “you just had a gel, it’s not time for another yet,” but my body might be telling me something different. I learned which one to listen to. 3) If I feel sleepy, light headed, spacey, start tripping or stubbing my toe, or if I get emotional (feel like crying) or negative, I probably need to eat. 4) If I hit a really bad patch, don’t assume the rest of the run is going to suck. I might just come back stronger than ever, and have one of the best, most fulfilling runs I’ve had in a while. 


  1. I just wanted to leave a comment and let you know that I enjoy reading your blog and that you give me hope that as I lose weight and start building up my running, that maybe doing ultras could be in my future : )

  2. Ironayla,
    You can do ANYTHING you set your mind to, and lots of incredible things you haven't even thought of yet— just keep moving forward.

  3. Good lessons Laura! I used to under-gu, so to speak, worried that I seemed to replace a LOT more frequently than some others, but then realized that just listening to my body really makes the run so much easier! Us Iron-stomach girls can put away the GU's for sure! Thanks for your usual insight and thoughtfulness!

  4. Important lesson and one I'm glad I'm learning from you instead of on my own...though I am glad you're okay!