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Thursday, February 18, 2016

The typical terrible last long run

It's what I do: have a terrible long run right before a marathon.
Saturday morning I just messed everything up. I had my last 20-miler on schedule, and I made sure it was awful. I overdressed (again) and ran by the house at mile 4 to toss my shirt. I was also already feeling wobbly. I have this annoying insulin-dump thing in the mornings. If I eat before 7am, my body responds with a huge amount of insulin, and I quickly feel faint. If I wait until after 8am, I don't have that response. So I usually have a late breakfast, and I don't eat before running unless it's 18 miles or more. At that point, that stored glucose might still come into play at the end of the run, so it's worth struggling through. But today's half-a-plain-pancake (the cupboard is bare over here) left me weak and hungry.
Brilliantly, I grabbed a Honey Stinger waffle as I went out the door. I'd never eaten one before, but I've heard good things, so I bought some a few weeks ago. However, when I read the nutrition label, I saw that there were 7 grams of fat per waffle, and I knew that my stomach rebels if I have high fat while I run. For whatever reason, I chose to ignore that fact on Saturday, and I chomped the waffle as I ran.
Almost immediately, my run started to suck. For one thing, I got to the levee to start the hill repeats that I've been doing in the first half of my long run, and there was a train blocking my way. And it was stopped. I ended up detouring all the way through the park, and by that time the train was gone, but I also pushed my hill repeats back by about 4 miles, which can be tiring. It's hard doing hill repeats in the second half of a long run.
And by the time I finished my last hill repeat, my stomach was in knots. I felt over-full (a Honey Stinger waffle is a lot of food, and in addition to the 7g of fat, they have 160 calories - that's a lot for early in a run) and a little ill. I knew I needed to start adding more fuel, because I was at mile 12, but I couldn't stomach anything.
Finally, at mile 15 I opened a gel, and immediately made a beeline for the bathroom with terrible stomach cramps! That was the end of that gel and any attempts at fueling for the rest of the run, which meant that I was just hanging on for the final miles. Walls-ville. I still squeaked out 20 miles at a 7:50 pace, but I think that had less to do with feeling comfortable at that pace and more to do with
1. A fifteen-minute break in the bathroom, and
2. A strong sprint the bathroom.
The entire rest of the day was spent doubled over with incredibly painful stomach cramps. I curled up with a hot water bottle and watched the Olympic Marathon trials and wished I was dead. It didn't help that I couldn't eat or drink, even though I knew I needed some fluids and electrolytes: not to mention food! I finally wised up and took an Imodium, and I gradually started to feel better.
Lesson learned: No or low fat for running, and I am very reliant on carb fuel at this point. I wish I was a better fat-burner, but I don't have the training miles needed for that right now.

So that's the story of my wretched final long run. I finished, it wasn't pretty, and I am not expecting miracles for the marathon coming up. Realistically, I think I can do a sub 3:30, but I'm not so sure that 3:20 is a reasonable goal right now (Ouch. Don't get old and have surgeries, youngsters). Thoughts? Predictions?


  1. I'm so intrigued by the early morning insulin dump thing, because I think that might happen to me as well - it just never occurred to me that it might be the time of day. I tend to feel much better at the starting line of races that start at 10-11, meaning I ate at 8:30-9..fascinating! I think you're probably in better shape than this run let's on, given the fueling mishaps. I'm sure you'll be around 3:20, if not below! Also I actually am running the half, so maybe I'll run into you!

  2. I think you will probably surprise yourself and run a 3:20. I can't believe how fast you are with both surgeries and recoveries under your belt. Strange to hear about your insulin dump. I'm lucky that I don't have too many GI issues. I've left the house eating a muffin during my first couple of miles. I can also eat a decent sized breakfast as long as I'm not doing a speed workout. I hope I just didn't jinx myself for this weekends half.

  3. Oh no! I'm sorry. I hear you about fat before a run. YIKES!!! I had a piece of custard-laden King Cake from Maurice's French Pastries as a pre-run snack a couple of weeks ago. I'm an IDIOT. What was I thinking?!?! I ended up destroying the toilet at the UNO cafeteria halfway through my 10-miler. So glad I was in the bathroom alone. Hahaha.

    Anyway, enough TMI. I still think you can do a 3:20.

  4. I once ate some Peanut M&Ms before running the Cooper River Bridge, which includes a 3 mile stretch without a bathroom (obviously no stops or porta potties on the bridge itself, and no bushes to hide behind). It was ugly when I finally reached the gas station at the base of the bridge. That's how it goes with fatty foods before a run for me.

    I think you will surprise yourself in the race. Stomach mishaps and bad runs happen, we always push ourselves a little more on race day though. 3:20 or 3:30 are still really amazing for a marathon!

    1. Glad I'm not the only one. My husband eats spoonfuls of PB straight before a run with no ill effects: lucky!

  5. Gosh that sounds so horrible. That sucks that you have such a sensitive stomach and have to be so careful about what you eat before long runs. I have a sensitive stomach but nothing as close to what you deal with!

  6. Oh that sounds awful. On the plus side, I always feel like I have a good run or ride after a bad one, so maybe this just has set you up for a great race.

  7. Well, on the bright side, you've retested fat during a run and confirmed it's still not an option? Hope to see you next weekend! I'm going with the under -- 7:50 pace for a 20 mile training run leads me to predict sub-3:20 on race day, especially since the weather forecast now looks as we'd expect!

  8. Honeystinger.... Beeline.. Hahaha nice!

    I'm just really glad to hear that you're getting ready for a marathon Gracie. It's been way too long for you, unless you snuck one in since my last post. Which very possibly could happened!

    If anyone can have a really crappy long run and a really brilliant marathon afterwords, it's got to be you. My prediction is for a great race.