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SEPTEMBER – Shifting Focus & Bringing it all Together
What happened to Paula Radcliffe during the Athens Marathon in 2004 is probably one of the most horrific things a distance runner will ever experience. It usually starts as a rumble deep in your gut like an earthquake and as the pressure intensifies…your focus rapidly shifts from relentless motion forward to get me to a bathroom NOW!!!
As one of the greatest female runners of all time, I have personally admired Paula’s accomplishments, her unique running style & her humility.
It’s not a laughing matter as some might think because when it happens during a race, as it did for Paula that dreadful day, the outcome can be devastating. Not only does your overall time suffer, provided you are able to continue running but the “situation”, ( I refer to as “Paula” ), can leave you instantly dehydrated, weak and vulnerable.
“Paula”, has shown up during many of my races, so I try my best to “prepare for the worst”, during my long runs. “T” in my S.M.A.R.T. training plan in September was all about “Timing of Development”. In my case the focus would be on “Timing of Nutrition”, so I could prevent the worst case scenario during my 50K adventure in the middle of nowhere on the Oregon Coast next month.
Over the years I’ve devised a few “tricks”, to avoid the runners stomach rumble. 95% of the time it works.
- Last meal of the day by 6:00 PM – 365 days a year if possible.
- Increase fibre & water intake 3 – 4 days leading up to a long run or race. (to help purge my system)
- The day before a race – no solid food after 2:00PM
- Let nature take it’s course. (If I’m lucky)
- Pray to the running gods that “Paula”, doesn’t up!
Sometimes you think you are doing everything right but then everything just goes horribly wrong.
On September 10, during a session of 3 X 20 min Tempo intervals along Spanish Banks in Vancouver, “Paula” was fast on my heels. Seriously! What were supposed to have been 5 minute “rest” breaks were spent in the women’s restroom…sort of.
“There goes Bev…sprinting up Spanish Banks Hill…but where did she go? Bushwhacking. She emerges…sprinting down Spanish Banks hill…along the beach. Someone is chasing her! Paula!!!! She’s gone again into the porto-potti on the beach; out again and kicking up some dust…sprinting even faster to the next concession. This is ridiculous but she seems to be gaining speed! I think she finally dropped Paula! 16K done in record time. No sign of her nemesis but Bev has an unusually light spring in her step as she trots home.”
Contrary to many runners, triathletes etc., I don’t use gels. I’ve tried them and actually ran my fastest marathon in Athens 2013 on just 1 – 1/2 gels BUT I don’t like them. They give me a stomach ache and the sugar makes me kind of crazy. But by now, if you’ve been following my story – it’s probably been decided I’ve already nailed that one. True enough.
I rarely eat processed food or sugar (unless it’s in wine), so why would I put it into my body when I’m trying to perform my best? Call me old-school or old-fashioned but I prefer REAL FOOD. I find it’s surprisingly easy to digest. It’s curious but I’ve actually found I eat way less by eating simple, nutrient packed foods. Who knew?
My partner Deb & I both enjoy cooking and eating so no one is starving in our house! My favourite trail running foods are leftover roasted potatoes with rock salt (I sweat like a racehorse), leftover homemade pizza (cut into bite size pieces & Deb’s amazing little balls of “rocket fuel”.
They contain cacao powder, coconut oil, cashews, dates, rock salt, chili peppers, ground coffee & are then rolled in hemp powder. Just one of these small planets of densely packed nutrition with just the right amount of kick – carry me through hilly trails for 2 hours without the need for anything else but water. I’ve used one before every race this year with fantastic results and no stomach issues.
It was cold & miserable. Even our dog Tailor didn’t want to get out of the car.
Most of the runners were huddled in the parking garage adjacent the starting corrals; trying to keep warm. I however, got out there with the VFAC (Vancouver Falcons ( I call them the V-fasters) and other very intense looking gazelles – eager to get this thing started…and finished!
I don’t mind running in the rain – it’s actually quite refreshing but running through trenches of water around curbs can be treacherous because you don’t know what lies beneath.
All summer I had practiced running through tide pools in prep for the Oregon 50K, so I convinced myself this was going to be a good “test run”.
Tailor loves races and once she saw me take off at the start, dragged poor Deb back & forth across the race course to find me. They both probably ran as far as I did in half the time! I still don’t understand how they were constantly ahead of me. There they were as I approached the finish line – Tailor trying to jump the guard rail; attempting to chase me to the finish! What a dog & what a partner. Both putting up with my excessive training, blogging and racing all summer.
We were all soaked to the bone and while running in the rain might be refreshing, standing around in it is NOT.
Eager to find out if I had won my AG and the series, I scouted for the results booth. YES! I had my age group win for the 10K but the series awards were not to be for another 90 minutes. I was starting to feel like a penguin in the South Pole.
Shivering and looking like a drowned rat, I opted to get my butt home into a hot bath and a shot of Jaigermeister (or 2).
While thawing out in the tub, fellow competitors messengered me that I had indeed won my AG in the series and to get my ass down there for my prize. But for me it wasn’t about another medal or the watch…it was about setting my sights on something – training really hard for it – and putting my heart & soul into it. Nothing feels better than accomplishment; except in my case…a hot bath.
The S.M.A.R.T. training plan my coach had created & continuously revised for me over the past 5 months, was extraordinary in originality. His quirky sense of humour and what I thought were “radical”, physical challenges he put together, were sometimes extreme but doable. My overall physical conditioning had me in the best shape of my life and the intense racing all summer had me mentally prepared for the 50K challenge I was about to embark on!
Of course I wanted to share the final few weeks of my journey with my coach but for reasons out of my control, it wouldn’t happen.
“You can put faith in others but ultimately it comes down to having faith in yourself”.
The day after the Eastside 10K race, I was scheduled to do a 3 hour run. Although I was super tired, running on tired legs was getting to be the “norm”, so off I went. 25K of trails is NOT like 25K on the pavement & as crazy as it sounds – I actually felt better than before I started.
Without a coach to help me with the final 3 weeks of taper, I devised my own plan based on strategies that worked for me in the past.
I did opt out of the 5-7 hour run scheduled 2 weeks before the 50K. The idea of it scared me. The longest run I had done so far was 4 1/2 hours I so cut it to 3 hours just to be safe.
There was the dreaded “carb depletion”, for 3 days during the week of the race when I couldn’t stand to be around myself! Imagine a hungry bear after the winter thaw!
Then the “carb loading”, 2 days before the big race when I got to eat everything in sight. Potatoes, pasta, dark chocolate, salty chips…pretty much anything that was within reach.
Focus is now getting to the Oregon Coast 50K, Oct 10, rested & injury free. My goal? FINISHING & praying that “Paula” , doesn’t show up!
Run Time: 29 Hours
Run Distance: 224K
Elevation Gain: 3175M
Walking & Playing with Tailor: 270K
LMRRS Age Group Series Win: W55-59.
My Oregon Coast 50K race report will be published on my birthday Nov 20…when all hell breaks loose!