Beer is not on the runner’s diet

I’m pretty disciplined about my running schedule. Particularly about the long runs on Saturday – I usually do everything so as not to jeopardize running performance. I eat  a light but high energy meal the night before, I abstain from consuming any alcohol and I’m usually in bed by 10pm, much against the consternation of my husband. (He’s even gotten used to making his own plans on Friday nights). That way I know that if there are performance issues, it isn’t extraneous factors but perhaps others – such as Achilles – that are causing it. But Thanksgiving weekend comes and messes everything up.

I was very disciplined about the Turkey Trot. We ate a light dinner of khichdi and omelette (for energy :)). We slept early and woke up fresh for the race – even though it was a fun affair, it was still 5 miles and it would get its due credit. With the 5 miles under my belt, I thought I’d give the long run this weekend with Rogue a skip. We had late night plans on Friday and Saturday nights with friends, among whom is Jairam a fellow SoH runner. (In fact he’s the coordinator). On Saturday night plans included visiting a biergarten in North Austin, followed by a heavy, cheesy meal at European Bistro with more beer. I must say the beers were fantastic and I stuck with good Oktoberfests at both restaurants. By the end of the night on Saturday, Jairam’s guilt had gotten infectious and I asked him to pick me up on Sunday morning as well. I thought, if he doesn’t make it, I’ll sleep in as well. Unfortunately he texted me at 6.19 am. When he met me outside my door, he said he had the same idea if I didn’t make it. Too bad we both did.

We were two of roughly 10 who showed up at Rogue this morning. Very unlike the huge crowd of runners that gather on typical Saturday mornings, but this was a long weekend. The run was supposed to be an easy recovery run to help us reserve strength for the Dec 3rd 10-miler. Jairam’s post thanksgiving guilt was indeed infectious and I thought I’d do the 7 as well. However, the coach asked us to take it easy and no one argues with the coach :). On a sidenote, I’ve never ever seen the Rogue coaches push anyone too far.

This run was a good lesson in what doesn’t help with performance. And here they are in order of importance

1) Getting less than 7 hours of sleep: I got only 6 hours of sleep before and that usually is too little for me. I was tired before the run began.

2) Drinking on the night before the run: even though I had my second and last beer before 9pm and drank lots of water until I went to bed, it’s a dehydration risk. At mile 2.5 (which I puffed and panted to), I was having cramps in my calves.

3) Eating a heavy meal (or a spicy one) – although dinner hadn’t been spicy, it was deepfried and cheesy and made me heavy and queasy with the combination of less sleep and fatigue.

At mile 2.5, we had to take a slight detour for a half mile to get in at the 3 mile mark before we turned around. I thought I’d wait for Jairam to come back after the 1/2 mile but then I changed my mind and decided to run it. To hell with the cramps, I thought. The half mile was a tough hilly one and I ran backwards uphill at the expense of looking like a fool, but its better on the calves and Achilles. Meanwhile 4 girls just sprinted past us as we intermittently walked/ran back.

It was terrible – hardly a hilly run, only 6 miles (and an impending 10 miles this coming weekend) with aches, pains and cramps. I felt like I was back at the drawing board. But it was good to learn that on an easy, not-so-important run. I mean I knew it wouldn’t be easy. But just how hard, I didn’t realize until I made the mistake. We made it back to Rogue (Jairam did a lot better than me probably a ‘guy’ thing, as he would say :)) in about 80-84 minutes, which is somewhere between 12-14 minutes a mile. The pace wasn’t that bad given my condition however it felt a lot longer. Despite performance issues, I’m highly grateful to Jairam for pushing me on this run today.

Sidebar: Bharath had registered last minute for the Turkey race – which was a really sweet gesture. He doesn’t care too much about running but because I enjoy it and because it was Thanksgiving Day, he ran it with me. Though we didn’t run together, we still enjoyed the same experience and I was happy that he knew now how exhilirating it feels on the other side of a good run. He of course nailed the run in less than 50 minutes or so. He’s now considering the Half Marathon which is both good and bad news. It’s good because it will be fun to do it together. Bad because he refuses to train and intends to just run it. I personally don’t think that’s a good idea because of the risk of injury. He’s used to high energy sports like racquetball and squash not so much endurance sports. So if he takes the initiative and does register, he’s going to have to do long runs whether he likes it or not(aa). (private joke)

 So all in all, it was one of the best Thanksgivings I’ve had – I ate like a pig (and the rest of the country) through the weekend, cooked a well-appreciated meal, enjoyed 3 wonderful evenings with friends, ran my first race, with the pleasure of my husband’s company and got in 11 miles despite all odds. That’s a lot to be thankful for!

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