Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What a major milestone (18 miler)/crushed Harlem Hills 3 times!- NYC Marathon training week 8

Last Sunday was another early rise for me and for other fellow runners who are either training for a marathon, NYC, Chicago, Marine Corps, Berlin, Philly, etc or they are just simply out of their mind and in love with the Harlem Hills.. If I wasn't training for the NYC marathon, I wouldn't have forced myself to skip out on Saturday night fun. Anyway, my anticipation for the 18 mile tune-up built up so much that I couldn't get a good night sleep, but I am sure I was not alone. I woke up a couple of times in the middle of the night thinking it was time to get up, but it was not. I could not bear the thought of missing my alarm and missing the run since running with a group for 18 miles is so much easier than doing it on my own.  That feeling could compare to missing an important job interview perhaps!

In short, the run was 3 loops in the park with plenty of fluid stations and volunteers. It was another well organized event hosted by NYRR. I only paid $10 for this, the cheapest and longest race I have ever done, but yet it was the hardest race thus far! The distance challenged me mentally and physically again. For mental preparation, I updated my music playlist so I could just get into running zone with beats. I already convinced my brain that I just completed 16 miles couple weeks ago, I could totally run another 2 miles. In terms of my physical training leading up the the 18 miler, I switched things up a bit this time! I reduced my weekly mileage and incorporated some interval training (8 x 100m & 4 x 400m) and increased my core workout instead! The result was rewarding! I felt less out of breath and I was able to use my core to push myself up the hills to reduce tension in my legs. (The high intensity of interval training is proven to improve aerobic capacity and it did in my case! Check out this article on improving aerobic capacity) There were times where my legs felt heavy and tight, but I stretched them out while I was hydrating at the water station. I made it to the finish in 2 hours and 36 minutes. My pace was a bit slower than the 16 miles run mainly due to stopping at more water stations and stretching my legs. Overall, I was just very happy to finish without killing my body! The completion of this 18 miler definitely boosted my confidence up that I should be ok/ready for the marathon even though I still have some training left! But the thought of running the marathon is still surreal! 7 weeks to go!

A few of my running friends from Run & Chug (NYC Fun Run) also completed the course. We had a boozy brunch at Uptown, it's a great spot for group gathering! Left to right (Stephen, Jen, Wayne, Rob, me, Molly and Mike) I love this running group, the energy, the people and their support make my training experience 100x better! 

 The weather was perfect! mid 50s when it started and it rose to the 70s in the afternoon. We spent it well under the sun in the park afterwards!

Despite the glamorous feeling of conquering 18 miles, my stomach didn't quite feel glamorous after the run. It was cramping and hurting for no good reason... But I did some research at home and found the following common causes:

1. dehydration
2. overload on gel packs
3. the levels of electrolytes are too low
4. Intake of Advil prior a run
5. Intake of food within 30 mins of starting a run
6. Intake of heavy, high-fat meals the day before a run
7. Intake of alcohol the night before a run

Here are the articles I read, feel free to take a look at them!

Based on my research, I might be able to draw to conclusion on why my stomach did not feel great post my long run. I had 3 alcoholic drinks the night before, I ate a peanut butter toast 20 mins before the run, I did not hydrate myself and I do not take any gel packs in general so my level of electrolytes were definitely low.... For my next long run, I will make sure I don't make the same mistakes! I might also try Nunn (link) since some runners suggested it! This might be the ultimate cure to my stomach problem!

I will be posting my training schedule sometime this week!

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