Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Sobriety Makes Me Slow

I'm actually going to write about two different things today. If the first half is boring, you can skip to the second thing. Or you can skip to the second thing, decide it's boring, and then go back to the beginning. Or you can just print out my blog, have your dog poop on it, then burn it. Just do that a safe distance from your nostrils.

Near the beginning of February I decided I was going to take a three week break from drinking. My problem was that because I was running so much, I felt I needed to make up for the calorie deficit (and carb load!) with booze. But then when I drank, I felt like I had to run more to make up for those calories.

This created an endless spiral of drinking and running.

I was drinking more because I was running. And then running more because I was drinking more. And so on. It was ridiculous. Either my liver was going to explode, or my legs. Or both. And that would have been extra messy.

I picked three weeks, because that would go right up until my half marathon in Hyannis, MA (spoiler alert for the second half of this post!). And I was totally committed to having a boozathon before the race.

Now, you may expect me to say that taking a break made me clear-headed, made me sleep better, and totally made me feel super healthy.

None of that happened.

Instead what happened is that my body suddenly had no carbs. Oh I ate. I ate a lot. And it wasn't all cauliflower and kale either. I about tripled my intake of epic desserts (which was amazing, FYI). But it wasn't enough. My body was totally sapped of glycogen. And my runs suddenly felt like I was swimming through molasses.

Apparently this makes me run faster.

And I didn't really notice any other appreciable difference, other than I didn't sleep as well. Something I realize was that I was exercising so much that I was pretty much cancelling out the ill effects of whatever trash I put in my body. For better or worse.

It DID help me run less, which was good, because I needed to taper for the half (which didn't help at all - more spoiler alert!). I'm glad I took the break. I needed to hit that reset switch. Plus I can actually enjoy drinking again. Being a two-beer-queer is a good thing.

Going forward I'm going to compromise. I have a plan that will have me drinking less, which will keep my mileage reasonable. But will still allow me to drown my sorrows a couple nights a week. That first night of beer in Hyannis, I told Geoffrey and his sexy-lady-runner-friend: "Holy heck I'm happy again!" And they were like, "thank gawd." Apparently I'd been really miserable the past three weeks.

Yes, I realize I've just thrown half a dozen warning signs of alcoholism at you. Throw me an intervention. Just bring a keg. And yes, I know I'm a terrible role model. That's why I don't write articles like, "5 ways to be extra fast and healthy!" Because I don't know shit. But, you know, maybe reading this will make you feel less bad about your life. Ahem.

So, second part. The Hyannis half marathon. I tapered... mostly. I swam and biked 3 days before the race, but that's low impact, right? I was going to carpool with Geoffrey, but the douche left a day early. It's over a 6 hour drive, and I hate driving. I listened to This American Life podcast. Maybe they should do an episode about masochists.

"Welcome to wherever. You're still hours from your destination."
I rewarded my survival of the trip with the most ludicrously massive "carb loading" dinner I've ever had. Actually, we had to wait for Geoffrey's lady friend to get home, so I pre-carb-loaded with a bunch of super hoppy beers. Which was genius. And then I ate about a Thanksgiving meal and a Christmas meal combined. We ordered 5 pizzas for us 3 adults and the thousand or so kids (I think 5, but I lose count past 1). There was a bag of mini donuts I promised myself I wouldn't touch. I ate almost the entire bag. I had two bowls each of - I believe - four different ice creams. Including some that apparently were 2 years old. Urp.

All told I ate about 5000 calories that night.

The next day (Saturday) we ran 3 easy miles. Then we went to Hyannis. We checked into our room (singular, wink wink). We went to the expo and got our bibs. We ate more food. The bill was over $160 for the 3 of us. High class! But delicious. Then we went to the pasta dinner. I only had beer and salad.

As if this makes ANY difference at this point.
But the whole point of the dinner was to hear some former Boston marathon champs speak: Bill Rodgers and Jacqueline Hansen. It was nice to see that despite all my running, I would (probably) live to at least 60. And of course Geoffrey and I got pics with Bill. What a great guy.

We will never ever be as fast as this guy.

Then Geoffrey and I stayed up way too late drinking Miller Lite. Usually a few beers the night before is exactly what I need, but this time...

Leading up to the race, I had been telling my friends that I was totally going to bomb. I do this so that if I do run badly, I can say, "see? told ya so." And then if I run well, I can say, "wow, what a surprise!" And then enjoy their scathing looks. Actually, I do this in many areas of my life, and have been told that it's a super obnoxious habit.

As the starting time approached, I actually began to get excited. The weather was great. It was going to be windy, but I thought, "bah, that's just air.... moving." I had a banana, put on my kilt, and was ready to nuke the race. My goal was to run it in under 1:30. My previous half marathon PR was 1:32. Easy, right?

The crowd of runners at the starting line was huge. I got into the 7 minute/mile corral, because everyone behind me had to see my kilt. And we were off! The first 3 miles I averaged 6:45 per mile and thought, "yessss, I'm totally going to do this."

Then the wheels fell off.

They didn't just fall off. They got blown into the ocean. Then eaten by a shark.

When I still thought I was doing well.

At 3 miles I turned into the wind. It was like trying to run through a glob of cheese (I already used the molasses simile). At the same time, my hamstring - which has been bothering me for a month (which booze totally would have healed, I'm sure) - began hurting abominably. My gait got really wonky. Every mile after those first three got significantly slower.

It was torture. I had never had such a bad half marathon (even worse than this one: I had an Awful Race and that's OK). I honestly thought my legs would break permanently. And considering that I'm typing this in bed because I had to take work off, that's not even that far off. For 95% of the race, I was committed to being a miserable asshole the rest of the day. But right at the end, for some reason, I decided, "screw it, I'm going to be cheerful." It was pretty arbitrary actually.

On the plus side, I did hear a lot of salacious comments about my kilt minus shirt combo. Maybe my ego got stoked enough to put me in a better mood. I felt like death but at least I looked good. Vanity wins in the end.

Apparently everyone had a slow race that day because of the wind. And comparing this race to my first half marathon from last year, it was faster. Bill Rodgers had said that the first race after the winter was always rough. Maybe my legs just needed this reminder that I intend to batter them for the rest of the year. But first, I'm going to lie in bed and eat my mom's cookies.

"Is this my medal for lounging
around all day? Thanks!"

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