Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Lesson in Hydration

We were out of bed and to practice before the sun broke the horizon this Saturday morning. Today we were out at Balboa Park and were set to do 16 miles; fortunately this will be completed in three laps as opposed to the 168 laps that it took me to complete 14 miles on the gym track two weeks ago.

The minute I took off from the starting line I noticed some apprehension from my legs. They were not happy about the task they were just given, and it took me about three miles to warm them up to the idea of doing thirteen more. The first lap I deemed my warm up lap and by the end of it my body had settled in to a pretty good groove. The remaining laps I labeled my big push, and my cool down. Then there was the final mile which I appropriately called my final stretch. Breaking the course down like this really helped with my motivation.

Staying hydrated and energized throughout my runs has long been a challenge for me. I decided for this run it was going to be different and implemented a new strategy to better accomplish this. I prepared two bottles of Gatorade Endurance (one for my hydration belt and the other I would pick up later in my run), and filled a small squeeze bottle with energy gel. For the Gatorade I needed to finish a bottle an hour, and for the energy gel I needed to squeeze a gulp in every half an hour. The energy gel, for those wondering, is a blend of carbohydrates, sugar, electrolytes and sometimes caffeine all mashed into a thick goo. Sounds appetizing, huh? Well as you might imagine, the gel was the hardest part - my mouth never wanted this sticky goo, and always opted for the wet beverage. Getting all that fluid in was also a challenge – the feeling of liquid sloshing around in my stomach as I tromped down the course did not sit well with me.

When I hit the second lap (my big push) I really laid into it. I felt my energy level was good, so I bumped up my pace and shredded miles 6 through 10. I pushed through the water stations, and was totally reliant upon my own hydration system. At mile 10 I made a quick stop to grab my second bottle of Gatorade and was off.

The third lap was definitely the most challenging of the three laps. As I pressed through miles 11 through 15 I could feel a variety of pains pulsing through my legs. These were no match for me though - I had good energy and was able to suppress them and forge ahead. When I reached mile 15 I hit a quick roundabout and headed back out for a mile loop to finish out the 16th mile.

With the idea of the finish line less then a mile away, the final stretch turned out to be much easier then I thought it would be. As soon as I finished though, all those nasty little pains I suppressed hit me at once, and I was inundated with a bunch of screaming joints. HOLY CRAP was this PAINFUL!! Never at the end of a run had I felt this kind of pain before. With a little bit of stretching and hydration the pains soon subsided, and I was able get out on the finish line to high five teammates as they came running in.

Overall I can say my new hydration strategy worked. Although in the beginning I was questioning the effects of all this goo and extra hydration; in the later mileage my energy level definitely reaped the rewards.

Try and keep up with me.

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