All About Angela

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Digestive System Woes

Since Squamish, running has been eh....At first, I was rockin' the whole recovery dealio and then BAM...I was knocked down by the flu and have yet to really make a triumphant return.

I've ran two races, both plagued with stomach issues that resulted in finish times that are not indicative of how hard that I've been working.

Three weeks ago, I ran my first road race of the year - a local race entitled The Scenic Half. Last year, I ran this race while battling a narly sinus infection....September has proven to be the month where my immune system fails miserably. I could have set my heart on a PR but running trail ultras has destroyed my speed (well...that and the fact that I choose beer over strength training more often than not). Therefore, I abandoned any time goals and intended on making this race part of a longer run. I planned on running a couple miles to the start line, running the race and then running a 6-7 mile route home.

I was a little cocky about pre-race nutrition. I just figured that I've gotten so used to this distance that I could eat whatever the hell I wanted and be OK....Yeah, that was wrong.... Apparently, three day old leftover meat pizza is not an optimal fuel source. The morning of the race, I woke up with HORRENDOUS cramps. Locked in the bathroom for a good hour, I was freaked that I'd even catch the start...I had to sprint to the start line, managing only one mile for the warm-up. I went out WAY too fast at the beginning....When I looked at my watch, I was throwing down a five minute pace...I'm not a fast runner, I will never claim to be a fast runner and that pace is ridiculous for me. I made the conscious effort to slow down. I maintained a low eight minute pace for about seven miles (a sweet spot between challenging but sustainable)....and then the stomach rebelled....I had to slow down an extra minute per mile to keep the poop fear at bay. I finished under two hours (barely) without having to jump into the bushes but... there was no way that I was going to bang out more miles.

Following the race, I cleaned up my diet in anticipation of the Priest Lake 50k. Cleaning up my diet often entails ditching dairy and meat....I'm learning that getting older means that your digestive system becomes a rebellious, fickle asshole.....Apparently, a block of sharp cheddar is NOT an acceptable snack...WTF?!?

This race holds sentimental value for me as it was my first marathon last year....I mean, who really forgets their first marathon? Thankfully, it's a local event so I can return every year (and fully intend to).  Priest Lake is a really fun's got some decent hills but completely's not what I consider trail but it's not exactly road either and the kicker - it's BEAUTIFUL.

Photo Credit: Mark Vogt Photography
In typical Angela fashion, I was sprinting at the start....When will I learn?!? I should know that if I'm in the top five runners, I need to slow the hell down. No matter how many of these I knock out, 31 miles is a LONG WAY.

See me there...lined up at the front...what was I thinking?!?
Photo Credit: Mark Vogt Photography
Even though aid stations were abundant (none spaced further than 3 miles apart), I had to carry a handheld with big deal. The first 21 miles went just amazing...I heeded the advice of my husband...keep a conservative pace, take walk breaks even if you don't feel that you need them. For the first time ever, I was passing runners left and right... Other than the normal muscle fatigue, I was really feeling spectacular and on track to set a blazing 30+ minute PR....And that's when my race exploded. I came into an aid station, grabbed the nearest cup and downed it without a second thought....That's when I realized that I'd just drank Heed - an electrolyte fluid that has notoriously been my running kryptonite. Oh well....I'll live, I thought....I grabbed a couple pretzels and rushed off. Within ten minutes, my stomach began to cramp and I was overcome with EXTREME nausea....nausea so bad that I began feeling dizzy....I had to continue stopping in order to regain my composure and balance. The final nine miles were a trudge to the finish....mostly walking and whining. Everyone that I had passed long ago now passed me....I just had to focus on finishing.

Ecstatic to have finished....and that I avoided violently vomited upon cheering spectators

After comparing ingredients of Tailwind and Heed, I'm almost certain that I was having an adverse reaction to xylitol....this is marketed as a "natural sweetener" but there are a small group of individuals that cannot tolerate even the smallest of makes sense because MANY people have expressed that they've had very similar reactions after drinking Heed. I'm not attempting to shine a negative light on Heed or Hammer Nutrition BUT it's definitely something to be cautious about. Just another reason why it's critical never to drink or eat something new on race day.

Now...enough about me....My oldest son is now in XC!!! He's had three meets and I'm just so incredibly proud of him. You have to understand, he's never been an athletic dude.... In his eyes, being told to go outside was akin to punishment. He's not a competitive person, either....I was really curious to see what he would do in a race. I kind of thought he might just jog comfortably through it. During his first meet, I was quite surprised to see him kick it up a notch on the final stretch in order to pass several runners. When he got in the finishing chute, I could see him glancing sideways in order to ensure no one was getting by him in those moments. He's been working HARD....They have these kids practicing four days / week. On top of that, he has PE right before practice and then walks a mile home after. And he hasn't complained once! However....he did try to rationalize how running 1.5 miles justified two cheeseburgers, a soda and a slice of cake....I really didn't want to break his heart so early into his running career and tell him that sports nutrition just isn't that kind....And secretly, I dig his train of thought.

No way, Jose...You aren't getting past me yo!

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