Friday, April 30, 2010

Five thousand calorie day

The basic calorie requirement for someone of my height and (not inconsiderable) weight is about 2000 calories per day; that's just what is required to keep my physiology ticking over. Endothermy is such a drag; it's been compared to having the central heating on and leaving all the windows and doors open. So, that's four Big Macs (or three and a half Whoppers, if I'm going to eat myself to death on three "sandwiches" day, I'll, ahem, plump for a Whopper every time time) just to keep the machinery oiled.

Running, supposedly, is 100 calories a mile, regardless of speed. I find it inconcievable that Cheryuiot and I burned an equal amount of energy at Boston, but there you are. So the marathon is 2600 calories, or twice the RDA for sitting down on your fat arse watching daytime soaps. When people I know start running they always tell me how hungry they feel. Well work it out I tell them; lets say you run 10kms (6 miles) four times a week? Thats 600 calories per run, times four is 2400 extra calories a week, or an extra day's worth of energy for a guy of average height and weight.

Anyway, that math; 2000 calories to keep the boilers lit and 2600 to get from Hopkington to Boston under my own steam, well makes marathon day a 4500+ calorie day. Makes you wonder about those Ironman guys don't it?

Add to that the pre-race carbo load and the post race munchies (which I still have), well that that math pretty much turned the trip to Boston into a six day eating spree interrupted by a marathon.

Two days prior, after hitting the Expo, we hit Joes American Bar and Grill. This was an interesting exercise; the expo was full of lean, tanned leatherly-looking people (and that was just the women, boom-boom!). I mean, these guys looked like whatever they hadn't sweated off had been baked off by the sun. This was definately not a positive body-self-image day. Somehow, I negotiated the saturated fats and sauces and, by as much luck as judgement, managed the healthy option; braised cod and rice

I know what you're thinking; there are still cod left in the ocean? I felt the same way. Then I thought, well sure, the stock may be more endangered than the feral dodo flock but it had already been already caught, so it would be churlish not to eat it. Big bonus of the day was getting asparagus!

We cooked our own meal the night before, pretty much a kilo of pasta, vegetables and self-doubt. It was the usual race breakfast routine; a huge bowl of granola eaten while the sun was still down. Of course, the 10 a.m. start-time coupled with the walking and the buses and all the rest can put a bit of a dent into your pre-race routine. La belle snapped a shot of me apparently looking longingly at a MacDonalds. It might have been early for a Big Mac (besides, I couldn't see a Burger King) but a sausage and egg McMuffin with three hours to race start? I could probably manage that!

With hindsight, the marathon could hardly have gone any worse so perhaps I should have got off the bus and picked up a breakfast combo, but in deference to the marathon I wouldn't have supersized it.

The night after the marathon we went back to Joes, not because we'd get frequent-diner points but it was close and our gaits were not up to walking far. Last year we'd gone to a restaurant about 5K out from downtown with friends the night of the marathon. This necessitated catching the T and this was a bad move; not only were there stairs down to the platform (and, ergo, back to street level), to add insult to injury, the platform on the T is at rail level (which just feels reckless to those of us raised with the London Underground) and there were steps up into the subway car and back down again. Bastards. Joes it was. I had no body self-image issues this time and needed to fill that 2600 calorie hole stat and went for fried calamari, steak & frites all washed down with a Hoegaarden (rehydration is over-rated) and none of it hung around long enough for a photo.

The next day, surprisingly, we were still hungry. Not just a little peckish, I mean hungry enough to eat the arse out of a low-flying duck hungry. Unfortunately, duck wasn't on the menu at Lunas in Bangor, but only because the chef was having the night off. Stull, the triple-B burger; bacon, barbeque and blue cheese with yet more frites did the job nicely. As did the Alagash White; not as fruity as Hoegaarden but it washed the burger down nicely and had the added advantage that it can be ordered without having to expectorate all over the waitress!

The final monster eat of the trip was at St Hubert in Moncton. Rotisserie chicken, gravy and yet more fries.

At St Hub, after chicken, it has to be a pouding chomeur; a cake-y pudding with maple syrup, extra maple syrup and a maple-syrup sauce. Talk about killing a tree. This thing is Type-II diabetes on a plate. With ice-cream.

Never mind poutine, this combo is Canada's gift to your ass. C'est encourent!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Enough already

Just got hailed on while running. Fricking hail! Felt like Bluenose 2004 all over again, but without the Gatorade stops.

Plus, it ruined my socks. I know they're just a pair of mesh Nikes, nothing to get sentimental about, but they were new ones.....

Grrr, surely it's time to end this meterological foolishness!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

This be the marathon

Back in secondary school, both stripes of English were compulsory subjects at O-level. English Language had been stripped of all the pedantic, persnickety grammar that blighted the subject in our parents' day (but has left the current genertion all the poorer, if not as bored) and was all about creative writing instead. Not suprisingly (or perhaps surprisngly) I aced that one. English Literature was the second stripe. The syllabus was somewhat variable as ones English teacher (Mr Bannell in our case) selected what (s)he wanted from a list of prescribed works; plays, books, short-stories and poems. So long as each category was represented, the Oxford & Cambridge Schools Examination Board was happy. We got MacBeth, Pride and Prejudice, Walter Mitty and a selection from Ted Hughes, John Betjeman and Phillip Larkin.

Generations of O-level students owe a great debt to Larkin for spicing up English by starting a poem"they fuck you up your mum and dad". He continues, saying that they don't mean to, but they pass on their own neuroses, that they themselves picked up from their parents. That's the relationship I have with the marathon right now, and this Boston in particular, because this Boston, in particular, really fucked me up.
In a couple of days I'll get around to writing about the marathon per se, right now I'll just continue to lick my metaphorical wounds and OD on Advil for the literal ones.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Run, Fatboy, run

M'eh. PW. Had to happen sometime. It's still a BQ but do I want to come back seeing as this course kicked my arse again? Doesn't matter if I run it hard or easy, either way it still gets me,

In other news, it looks like the Rocket and Pocket Rocket are in the money. And on even more personal news, la belle ran a huge PB today. Surely she's heard of the notion that you just don't run PBs here, but has no truck with the notion, seeing as she's done it twice now. Does this mean dinner's on her tonight?

Just let's make sure the resto doesn't have any stairs :)


Time to get the school-bus

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Basket Cased

Done, kinda. Got my dossard, chip and an unhealthy dose of nerves at registration.

Spent a few hours checking out the rest of the Expo and in what seems to be becoming a bit of a tradition, bought new shoes for Monday. I know it is counter to everything you hear, but really it's not, well not as long as you stick with what's known to you.

Now all that has to be done is spend as much of the next 36 hours sitting down, lying down or just flat out asleep and then at about 10:00 on Monday, get 'er done.

More laters


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Underuse Injury

A coffee and the croissant-of-the-week from TIBS. A relaxing, mellow and scrumptious way to start the day. And that croissant! Mwah! It was also, one suspects, the last oasis of calm for a few days. Firstly, is the news from TIBS barrista-par-excellence, Zane, that Boston is a "coffee wasteland". Then there is the reason I will be in Boston in the first place; the marathon.

There is, we are told. such a thing as "catastrophising", Don't think it's in DSM-IV, but if I go to the right health professional they can write a paper, nay a series of papers, on me and make a case for it's inclusion in -V. Catastrophising is over-emphasing injuries, aches and pains in the period immediately prior to a large event. I am catastrophising in spades. These can't be real injuries, aches and pains as they weren't there last week and I've take good care to stay off my feet this week. I've ridden a few times this week, but not far and definately not on fixed; my knees ache enough as it is. Still, I've even given up riding now out of a morbid fear of getting in a crash; marathons are hard enough without going swaddled like the Mummy.

So back to those injuries, aches and pains. I think they are more akin to what Stacy Juckett calls "underuse injuries", the host of little niggles you get when you stop training for any reason. It is as if your body does whatever it needs to do to help you train, and then when you stop, whatever protective (mental) mechanism(s) that have been put in place are removed and despite the drop in miles, it suddenly feels as though your body is falling apart. I remember once reading about the guys who run across America, logging at least a marathon a day. They said that the running wasn't so bad, but the rest-days hurt! Same here I reckon.

Some of the pains are real; my knees for instance are real. But the other sundry injuries, aches and pains that seem to spiral up and down my legs; they weren't there a week ago. Not the injuries, aches and pains that have appeared suddenly in my hamstrings, then the tib anterior, then the ankle then the gastroc and then back up again and repeat all week. The transient nature of the aches and pains, plus that they can't seem to decide what exactly is injuried, achy and hurt (is the hip? The calf? The ankle?) makes me think, makes me want to think it is, in fact none of the above (not all of the above). But still...

Endurance people tend to be Type As. Endurance sports need the goal-oriented, results and planning behaviours of the Type A; you can't just wake up one morning and do a marathon (or God help you an Ironman), you need that kind of driven Type A background. I have no idea if the trick cyclists have done a survey, but one suspects the Type As are also prone to catastrophising. I would imagine one of those disgustingly permanently happy cheery people would be all "oh, I'm going to Boston for the marathon, how wonderful, it's all going to be peachy and smilely; I can't wait I can't wait I can't wait, it's going to be incredible, weeeee" while jumping up and down and clapping their hands like a child given an ice-cream. But all the people I know are crying into their Gatorade saying "well if my joints hold up and it isn't too cold and I don't drop my gels then I might just scrape by and I hope I did enough 20 milers because that last one was kinda sucky and I haven't hit my times the past couple of weeks". Ironic, isnt it? The pysche gives with one lobe, and takes away with the other!

I thought that packing might help to distract my mind from the whole thing, perhaps a bit of positive action towards Boston would trump the passive agonising over it. So I hit up A1 and got my Boston socks...

Yup, those mesh Nikes again. Do you think the marathon will go better, will feel better, in bright, white, shiney socks? Probably not but it can't hurt can it? It rather pains me to wear Nike but these socks work and if it ain't broke, well you know. I know I could likely have bought them cheaper at the Expo on Saturday but that is one "likely" too many right now. Haven't come this far to be thwarted by a pair of socks! Plus, this way I can put everything I need together in one small pile...

...and put it into a bag which I swear won't leave my sight until we get to Hopkington.

Yup, all that training and it boils down to this, a singlet, a pair of shorts and the sneakers with the least number of miles on them stuffed into a freebie bag that came with a pair of shoes.



Sunday, April 11, 2010

Brain Freeze

The last "long" run before Boston this morning. Urgh. It wasn't long and it wasn't fast, not that any of my long runs have been particularly fast recently; running "long and fat" was how I described it to a friend recently and I think that adequately describes it.

Despite being a fraction of the time and distance of many of the recent Sunday morning excursions, this run hurt all over; all over the park, all over the North End, all over the South End and all over the water-front. It also hurt all over my body; my hips, knees and ankles. At one point I gave one of those little "eeks" as something protested the motions (trying to keep up with the Rocket and the Pocket Rocket, who were loping easily along as is their wont), making the Rocket look around and ask "did you just pull something" to which I had to say "Only my brain! I had it in my mind I was going to run a marathon a week Monday, I'll go home and ice it; that should make it go away".

It was like that time at this year's Moose when I thought I could run with the Pocket Rocket. After all, I have in the past so it seemed natural we should stick together again. She started throwing numbers out over her shoulder, 6 minutes for the first mile, then again and, alarmingly, again. I knew then I was in trouble, running within seconds of my NSAC 5K time but at the start of a 25K run, but she kept on telling me we had never set off this slowly at the Moose. Yikes! Really? I'm red-lined here and I can still see the RNS van! I hung for as long as I could, which was about 10 K, before slipping off the back. Of course, I was running so dumb it took me two goes to get the message; the first time I went off I fought back on to her heels. Goodness knows why, it was clear I was on a hiding to nothing and chasing back on was throwing good energy after bad, yet I gritted my teeth and got back! I like to think my brain was hardwired into cycling mode where you give everything to stay on the wheels and deal with the consequences later. It's a bit like a reflex; in a bike-race taking the time to think "should I jump on that wheel or not" can often mean the difference between getting on the wheel or missing the train completely. Anyway, I didn't even last a kilometer until I got tailed again. This time I watched the elastic stretch without alacrity and when it went ping and hit me in the eye I didn't much care.

As you can see; it wasn't pretty and this was before I got dropped. Seeing me get dropped not once but twice, must have been excruciating to watch; I'm glad Nick left the lens-cap on! Like I said; brain-freeze!

The Moose was early this year. Normally it's the last hurrah before tapering, but this year there was still time to get another 20 miler in the books. Having it in my mind that when the Buffalo Club hove into view it was a sign the hard work was done, realising there was time to get in another long, fat one before sitting on the couch eating cookie-dough ice-cream from the tub while watching romantic comedies came as an unpleasant surprise and as it was Lent I couldn't even resort to the cookie-dough ice-cream in consolation.

Why did I have it in my head the Moose was the finish line for the Boston prep? Surely my training diary should have told me. Well, I don't actually keep a diary with a countdown to Boston, or any event, in it! To be honest, I've only just recently committed the date of the marathon to memory (it's next Monday, right?). For me, knowing the marathon was in mid-April was enough to plan. You know to start to ramp the miles in January(ish), the 20 milers have to start in mid-February(ish) and carry on until the end of March(ish) and taper in April(ish).

Boston prep has been a real grind this year, and this "extra" 20 miler was a nail in my mental coffin. It's not just me; ask around, it seems that everybody has had a hard winter getting ready for Boston. OK, maybe not quite everybody; I admit that this is a self-selecting population, a bit like doctors saying most of the people they know are MDs, PhDs (or both) or sick but you get my drift. In part it seems that many of us started early this time; logging a lot of miles in January and February and then falling off the wagon in March; I conformed to this pattern and I know I was not alone. My training log (albeit a log severely infested by Long Horn Brown Spruce beetles and many of their more pestilant taxonomic relatives) shows that I hit 1000km running this year right on schedule; within a week or two of when I have always historically hit 1K but despite the reassuring total the distribution is all wrong, with the weekly numbers skewed to the left rather than the right. This can't possibly bode well.....

Something wet horribly wrong in February; tired? Injured? Bored?All of the above? Take your pick!

Also it has been commented that this collective feeling of drag-ass has been despite the relatively mild March, and I wonder if perhaps these feelings are somehow inversely linked and it's more a story of "because of" rather than "despite". Usually we slog, well wade, through a pretty shitty March and emerge blinking into the sunlight only when disembarking at Logan. This year March has been shorts weather, nary a flake of snow (sorry Ottawa!) and even the paler amongst us has a hint of a tan. Perhaps we feel somehow entitled to good sensations in our legs when the sun is out and the sun is never out in March. So feeling this bad is what March actually feels like to the endurance runner, it's only our expectations were reset when we saw our shadows that early in the season, like so many ground-hogs.

That said, I'm going back to my burrow and only going to come out in time to get the big banana to Hopkington......