You know what drives me crazy? There’s this mattress store with a sign in front of it that says, “nation’s and Carolina’s largest mattress store.” I run by it almost every day, and every single time I see it I find myself wishing for a red pen. I’m assuming that they’re somehow trying to appeal to state pride in order to drum up business, but it’s just redundant. If it’s the largest mattress store in the nation, then obviously it’s the largest mattress store in any state in the nation…including the Carolinas. Unless, of course, the owners don’t consider SC to be part of the United States…I believe that’s happened before…something about secession and “Northern agression”…hmm. Have I missed something?
Speaking of crazy, I have a 20-mile run this weekend. I tend to get a little loopy towards the end of those. One time, I renamed both of my running buddies because I was “tired of pronouncing all of the syllables in their names.” Yes. That is correct. And it’s not like their names were Esmerelda or Danielloqueeshashley. I was feeling burdened by two-syllable names. Another time, I began reenacting my favorite SNL skits. A bit awkward for me, but probably entertaining for ME and RB.
I’ll be interested to see if my new fueling strategy reduces the end-of-the-long-run crazies. The plan is simple. Step 1: eat a reasonable breakfast. This usually consists of toast or oatmeal, something filling that settles easily. Sometimes, I’ll go for those cheese & peanut butter crackers. It’s not exactly a “breakfast” food, but it’s something I know my stomach will tolerate and has a decent combination of carbs and protein. Step 2: Eat two Shot Bloks after every 45 minutes of running. Last year, my plan was to fuel when I “felt like it.” Unfortunately, “feeling like it” typically meant “when the hallucinations about cheeseburgers start,” which is somewhere past the point of no return. My hope is that steady, planned fueling will help me stay ahead of the wall.
So far, it’s a strategy that seems to be working pretty well. I haven’t reached that state of total exhaustion yet, which I think is a pretty good sign considering that I’ve gotten up to 18 miles. I still carry a bottle of water with me and that’s something that I can count on myself to take in at a slow and steady rate. After 17 years of running, I am well acquainted with the necessity of hydration. To answer DeAnna’s question about my aversion to fueling in a comment on an earlier post, I think my problem with eating while running is two-fold.
First, there are thought patterns based on what “fast Megan” used to do that I continually struggle with. For example, in college my coach continually told us that anything over 8:00 pace wasn’t even worth the effort. It wasn’t running…it was jogging. Blech. Now, I don’t really think that “jogging” is a word that applies to someone who spends three hours training every Saturday. It’s a dirty word reserved for more casual, less strenuous efforts or insults to an opponent’s mother. “Oh, yeah? Well, your mama ain’t nothin’ but a jogger!” “Ohnoyoudidn’t!” I have an inner critic, however, who constantly reminds me of the old days just to torment me. “9:13? You call yourself a runner? PLEASE!” Sometimes, I have to work really hard to silence her. Because “fast Megan” never ate while she ran, inner critic has apparently decided that fueling is a “weak” and “non-runner” thing to do. This is ridiculous. I know this. “Fast Megan” never tried to run for four hours at one time. It’s completely new territory, which requires a completely new strategy. This is what I tell the inner critic, but the aversion to fueling lingers.
It’s certainly not helped by the fact that I have a sensitive stomach. As you know, D, and as I’m sure I’ve mentioned on this blog before…I had troubles with nerves for much of my high school running career. I can be a perfectionist, and after surprising everyone as an all-State contender my freshman year I began to expect a lot from myself. A. Lot. Often, I would manage to worry myself sick before a race. I eventually gained control and became less of a headcase, but vomiting before nearly every race for a couple of seasons did leave its mark. There are now fewer things that sound “ok” to eat before or on a run. In fact, when I first started marathon training the mere thought of eating while running was enough to stimulate the gag reflex. My first experiences with chemical- or chalky-tasting gels and jelly beans did not help matters.
My favorite “fuel” so far has been Clif (CranRazz) Shot Bloks. I think it might be because they use more natural ingredients, but the Clif products don’t have that “medicine-y” aftertaste I hate so much. The CranRazz flavor tastes great. Addictively great, according to my brother. (I loaned him half of my packet for a 15-miler over Thanksgiving and he finished it by mile three. First, he just wanted to “try one.” Then, he waited as long as he could before going back for more, but they tasted so good that it was only about 20 minutes before I saw him chewing away.) The downside is that they’re (1) bulkier and slightly harder to carry around than those little gel packets and (2) incredibly chewy. I mean, like partially frozen gum chewy. I experimented some with Clif (Strawberry) Gel Shots earlier in my training as a possible alternative — the taste is tolerable, but for me the texture is not. It looks like I’ll be sticking with the Shot Bloks.