Sunday, August 19, 2012

Everybody's got a darkside

Saturday morning was my regularly scheduled group run with USAFit Albany. It was a 10 mile run that was scheduled. I had only run up to 9.3 miles before and that was the Boilermaker and I walked through so much of that race. I had been talking to Joel asking him about what he does for nutrition on his long runs and he mentioned he was more concerned with my hydration over food intake. He asked if I knew what my sweat rate was and if I was a salty sweater. I said I didn't know what my rate was but I knew that salt crusts on my face during a run. He suggested I do a sweat rate test and keep track of my data.

Thursday I was supposed to run a tempo run so I figured I could do a sweat test on that run. I was only drinking water, not nuun. I weighed myself, ran for an hour, then weighed myself again and measured how many ounces of water I had drank.

Starting weight: 247.4
Finish weight: 234.4
Difference of: 13lbs
13lbs = 208oz
Ounces drank: 14oz
total of 222oz

It seemed crazy. Loosing 13 pounds from sweating. I mean I know it's plausible but it still seems insane. Joel and I emailed back and forth about the data and he sent me back some stats.
So, 222oz lost. that accounts for 5.7% of your weight. A max of 3% weight loss is considered safe. So over the course of the half marathon, you need to maintain no more than 3% loss. So for an hour of running, you'll need to take in about 120 oz of water/electrolytes per hour. that's a lot, i agree. but that's what the math is telling us.
We agreed that I'd do the sweat rate test again because I felt there were too many inconsistent variables.  So we agreed on at least doubling the amount of hydration I do in an hour. Originally, I would carry my 20oz bottle and I'd be finished with that in an hour. So I was supposed to drink 40oz an hour. Which means I'd need to carry a second bottle, use a fuel belt, or a hydration pack. Joel was coming up to the area so he brought a fuel belt and a hydration pack for me to try out.

I settled in on the 60oz hydration pack.

On Thursday's run, my legs were cramped, I didn't feel strong, I was trapped thinking about some of my physical health concerns.

So Saturday's run was scaring the shit out of me.

I arrived at our start location and I could feel the angst and dread in me. I was publicly cranky and moody. Every fucking negative thought was winning that morning.

We started out running and the first thing I had to tackle was a hill. It was a cooler morning but it was still damp, which makes my lungs hurt more. I had my inhaler with me, I knew if I needed to use it I could. I just started hearing CAN'T. I prepared longer and better hydration and nutrition wise for The Boilermaker and this run was longer than that. I was trying new things, new foods, new flavors, using the hydration pack. I was trying to fight it all and I was getting discouraged and slower and then I just kept shaking my head - very ready to give up. Jenika kept looking back and checking on me, asking me what was going on. I can't even describe it. I know it was a panic attack. I know she was trying her best to get me to think about different things. I wanted the negative to win very badly. I wanted to stop.

After Jenika got me to slow my breathing down, she started asking what I did the other day, which I replied that I went grocery shopping. So she asked me what I got. Pantry items, I replied. So, what's in your pantry? she asked. I mean I knew what she was doing, it's the same way I get rid of people's hiccups by getting them to focus on something else. Little by little I battled up the hills, we started to throw out small personal conversations, and eventually we were at three miles. Every walk interval I was sipping out of the hydration pack and every run interval I was running. I didn't skip any (on purpose). In the Boilermaker I walked most of mile seven to mile nine. When I've been out on my own, I've let exhaustion win and I've walked additional run intervals. By mile 4.5 Jenika commented on my salt buildup on my face and I knew that when we were back in the Crossings, that if we stopped near the yellow trail bathrooms, I could eat a salt packet that I had in my bag and an almond nugget.

We continued on and went past Lisa at the water stop, who was shouting out great positive things. I had checked my hydration bladder when we stopped before and I thought I had enough. We were on mile 7.5, I thought I had enough in there. However at mile eight I tapped the bag. Was I worried? Yes and no. It was only two more miles, I thought about how I don't take water in a 5K so I should be fine. Yet, I was exhausted, depleted, and at the end of my run.

My watch didn't say 10 miles, Jenika's did but she heard me saying how I needed it on my watch, to know I could. So we kept going. My watch ended up saying we ran 9.6 miles, hers said we did 10.8. Jenika's watch has had better accuracy consistently, so I conceded and stopped.

Coach Jennie's parents made us some pancakes (from the batter blaster can's and they were great!) and I had chocolate milk, a salt packet, 20oz of Gatorade, and an almond nugget. I was exhausted and got in the car. My stomach didn't really want food but I knew I needed to put food in it. I was nauseous, and I was starting to get a head ache. When I googled later, headaches caused by salt depletion I certainly scared myself even more. Loosing that much salt puts me at a greater chance for a seizure. Seeing as my headache syndrome also has me at good odds for seizures, it's not a good game of chance. One thing I can control, the other I cannot.

Joel and I talked Sunday morning about what I was experiencing. So I have to increase the amount I drink on the run, by like a lot. I need at least 40oz each hour but honestly, probably more than that.  Our math from earlier says I need 120oz each hour. That's two full hydration packs! So it's crazy to me and scary. Also he wants me to increase my calorie intake during the run to 400 calories. And now I have a run recovery plan. A large V8, 20oz sports drink, 20oz water, and then some form of protein/carb (normally I do chocolate milk but that and V8 don't sound so great together) All of this needs to be consumed within 30 minutes of the end of my run. Then throughout the rest of the day, I need to be taking down a gallon of water baby sip by baby sip.

Knowing all of that and experiencing my second headache after a hard run just made me scared. I have been so happy lately, so it just feels like I'm trying to find ways to negate that happy. Being sick and being worried about getting sick, who sees it, who doesn't - it's just so hard for me. It's hard to say it out loud because it feels like you are loosing control and letting a disorder win.

But I am going to try. I made a promise to try. To let people know more about what happens when I have an attack. What to tell an EMT, where to tell an ambulance to go, having my emergency medical information on me.

It's just so hard. I am excited and proud that I ran 10.8 miles. I want to hold onto that happy. But it makes it that I am walking a fine line, dancing around diminishing odds. Something that makes me feel so strong also makes me feel so weak. Happy and terrified. Mentally, I am unsure of how to battle that.


  1. Hollie, thanks for sharing this. Congrats on your 10!

    I often get discouraged, too. Everyone is very different and it can take a LONG time for many of us to truly get comfortable doing long distances. I know that I've been working on it for three years and I still have runs that make me feel like giving up. But, one bad run, or even one bad week or month, does not mean that you aren't making progress.

    Anyway, I know we already chatted about the potatoes, but they are REALLY working well for me. I actually look forward to eating them during runs and they are a great way to get a LOT of salt in. I'm going to blog the "recipe" today...

  2. I was politely told by Joel when I said I couldn't believe that I did 10 miles "to get the fuck over that" (in a very loving and joking manner) - I told my other coach this, and she's adopted the motto as well :)

    We talked about a lot of the tricks out there. V8 being one of them. I think I'm going to make a bunch of potatoes for this coming weekend. If anything I can use them as a recovery food.

    I know that I am progressing and it will be neat to see what my 5K time is for a race I have in September. The physical battle is kind of just there, like I know that physically my body is getting stronger without me really knowing.

    The mental aspect of running is really just been kicking the crap out of me lately. Not everybody talks about it all the time either, so it's hard to know if anyone else feels this way without admitting it myself. That admission though, is tough.

    I know some of the marathoner's in my group asked what I was talking about when I referenced the potatoes. So I very well will spread your recipe post around like wildfire :)

  3. I was going to reiterate my message, but you've already done so above. Don't forget to hydrate, Hollie, in the amounts we discussed. I'm confident this will solve your headache and heavy leg issues.


  4. i'm on 40oz of water so far today. 12oz of gatorade and 12oz of V8. I've got a recovery run tonight but i've got a V8 to drink right after as well as some 32oz of gatorade.

    i'm trying coach :D

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