Sunday, August 26, 2012



An Informative Blog Entry

For about a month now, I've been exploring the concept of eating to the clock. I've sampled every flavor of GU and Roctane, including the energy drink mixes. I've also been trying to get a better handle on hydration and electrolyte replacement, skills I sometimes get right and sometimes get terribly wrong. For short runs of under five hours or so, I can screw everything up and still do okay. Screw up on a fifty-miler could end my race early, though, so I need to learn this stuff.

Mike and Drew recommend 250 calories per hour, not counting energy drinks. I know my stomach can't handle that much gel but I've tried one gel (100 calories) every 40 minutes and done well with it. I can get the rest of the calories from boiled potatoes and such at the aid stations.

I've sampled every flavor of GU and Roctane and settled on "Just Plain" GU which has caffeine and "Strawberry Banana" GU which does not. I didn't get along with the Roctane at all, which is handy because it costs twice as much and has a bunch of extra ingredients which I'm not sure about. When I'm hungry, I need maltodextrin and fructose; not maltodextrin, fructose, and orthanine alpha-ketoglutarate, whatever that is. I won't be able to test my nutrition plan for a whole twelve hours which is the goal I've set for the Heartland race, but I'm guessing that 360mg of caffeine (20mg x 18 gels) will be too much. I'm planning to carry four hours worth of the Strawberry Banana at the start and refill with Just Plain at the aid stations that allow drop bags.

I liked the GU Electrolyte Brew drink mix for one of my two water bottles. On my Tyson Parkway runs, I even practiced dumping the powder into an empty bottle before arriving at the "aid station" to save time. I practiced stowing the empty packets. In the end, though, I decided it was too much hassle. I can get the calories from gels and food and the electrolytes from pills and gels (which contain 50mg of sodium). Besides, I've discovered I really like the taste of plain water.

I'd been using Endurolytes which contain a fairly small amount of sodium but also have calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B-6, and manganese. Some people have great luck with Endurolytes but my results were hit-and-miss. Sometimes I'd eat them like candy and still get cramps. I attributed the cramping not to electrolyte imbalance but to the fact that I was pushing out really long runs for for a relatively new runner. After a while, though, that explanation just didn't work any more. Today I switched to S!Caps which have a crapload of sodium (341mg), some potassium, and nothing else. I took one per hour and demolished my PR for three laps of Fayetteville Lake without even an inkling of cramping. I felt much better.

The other advantage of using the S!Caps alone rather than suplementing with an energy drink is that I can adjust my water intake and sodium intake completely separately. I've had the best luck drinking to thirst rather than trying to drink a certain amount per hour. A few weeks ago when I was experimenting with the electrolyte drink mixes, I drank too much and jacked my system up for three days. I left work early one day and missed a Wednesday speed workout because of it. I will never do that again.

An Entertaining Blog Entry

It can be sad, confusing, even heartbreaking. Very often, no one or no thing did anything wrong. By logic, by gut, every part of you believed it would work, and you had good reason to think it would. You struggle and struggle, you fail and fail. Why does something which seems so right go so wrong, time after time, despite both of your sincere efforts. There is no explanation. Eventually, you realize it's time to move on.

It hurts, letting go, but you know what happens? Sometimes, as you are drowning in a sense of loss and failure, you suddenly find the thing that really does work for you. You find the thing you never would have found had you not mustered the courage to abandon the familiar and grasp the unknown.

Today I switched from Endurolytes to S!Caps.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Today was Pretty Fun

Life is a meat grinder. It is mindless repetition performed in the total absence of stimulation. It is an unsavory meal that you force down your gullet one 24-hour bite at a time because your stomach demands it. Life sucks.

Every now and then, though, a bite tastes pretty good. I took vacation today not because I had to, not because I necessarily wanted to, but because I didn't have any better use for it. Mrs. DMG and I dropped Donald off for his first day of first grade, and then went to a little dive we discovered in Bentonville where we killed fifty dollars worth of Korean barbecue just to watch it die. Then we went to Rush Running to try on the "crazy shoes" they had just gotten in. Might buy a pair someday. After that, we picked Donald up from school, dropped him off at therapy, and then had a little dessert date at Steak-n-Shake. After bringing Donald home, I went out again to Walmart for a six-pack of beer--Heineken--a treat that I only enjoy a few times a year anymore. We put our tired kid to bed and each enjoyed a cocktail as we watched a cable TV show about a couple who had to decide between remodeling their current extravagant home or buying a different extravagant home. I won't say what Mrs. DMG and I were doing between dropping Donald off at school and departing for the Korean barbecue place, but it was pretty fun, too.

After such a day, after such a delicious bite of life, you'd think I'd be able to sleep. I can't, though, because my being has a task to do. It is neither a physical task nor a mental task; it is simply something that must be done because my stomach demands it. That task is to pick something to occupy myself for the next several days--something to distract me from the long string of foul and unfulfilling bites I will have to eat until circumstance grants me another day like today.

I think I'll write a suicide note. Not for me, of course. My life is not that bad. It would be a purely hypothetical suicide note, an exercise in composition. I will imagine sentences like, "My memoirs are written on the sunken skin of my face, and there is no more room to write." I will repeat those sentences in my mind over and over again, changing a word here and there like a painter who is never quite satisfied with his work and keeps painting over it. It's not fun, thinking of suicide in the third person all day, but when the grind of your life requires no thought, the mind must do something. Thinking of suicide, abstractly, of course, has gotten me through many a day. So yes! I will write a suicide note. With that settled, with my task chosen and my stomach settled, perhaps now I can get to sleep.

Still, today was pretty fun.

Monday, August 20, 2012

August 20th, 2012:

The day I rediscovered kimchi.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

[entry deleted]

Because it sucked.

Heartland Training Update [reposted]

This will be a strictly factual blog entry. It will not contain humor, clever word usage, or insightful allegory. It will provide an account of my training progress for the Heartland 50 race coming up this October, and nothing more.

Things are going well. I am running comfortably and basically sticking to the plan. The only real change is that I'm going to do more of my long runs on the Don Tyson. Running close to home allows me to get the most miles in in the available time, plus I can stash water and supplies without having to worry about them. It more closely simulates periodic aid stations. I run mostly in grass and the hills roll more than I will experience in Kansas. I've really been enjoying the Don Tyson.

I've made all but one of Rush Running's Wednesday speed sessions and they are a blast! The U of A Agriculture Department Farm where they take place is covered with a maze of gravel roads and grass paths so I've been running a few hours extra every night. I can't get enough of it!

I had a wild hair last Sunday and ran 27 miles. I was also experimenting with eating to the clock. I bought every flavor of GU and Roctane and sampled one every 40 minutes. I also tried Roctane Energy Drink in one of my two bottles every time I filled them. It felt great while I was running, but I definitely noticed a pang in my stomach about five minutes after taking Roctane, I think because it has twice the caffeine of regular GU but it has a bunch of other stuff in it, too. The Roctane Energy Drink tasted great but was too sweet, even for my copper stomach. Still, I needed to complete the experiment so I drank it, lots of it, along with my plain water. That turned out to be a mistake.

I took over Donald duty right after I got back from the run so Mama could sleep (she had to work that night) so I didn't get to eat a proper meal. All I had that night was a few sandwiches. I went to bed feeling like crap and woke feeling even worse. By noon, I was so nauseated and had such a terrible headache that I left work early. I was baffled at first but eventually decided that I must have overhydrated during my run and become slightly hyponatremic. I had consumed nearly 30 ounces more water than I would have drinking to thirst as I usually do yet I dropped to the same weight, 162 pounds, that I always drop to after a long run. The two pounds of water just left me as if I had not drunk them at all, carrying precious electrolytes with it. The fix was to go with the Duchess to drop Donald at therapy and then go to Sbarro at the mall. I had a stromboli with a side of meatballs and marinara. Then we went home, cooked an extra salty batch of schmooey, and ate about two pounds of it. I started feeling like a human being after that but still had headaches the next two days. I actually skipped speedwork on Wednesday because of a headache.

Dehydration sucks but it's relatively easy to fix as long as it's not too severe. After my experience last week, I'd much rather by dehydrated than overhydrated and hyponatremic. I'm glad I just got a mild touch of it so I know what it feels like and can take corrective action before my kidneys start shutting down. Fuckers sometimes die from hyponatremia!

I did much better today. After sampling the GU flavors, I settled on the "Mandarin Orange" and "Just Plain" flavors. I also switched to GU Electrolyte Brew instead of the Roctane energy drink and did much better with it. It has less caffeine, less other agressively marketed chemical crap, and 100 calories instead of 240. It tastes better too! At lap 10, the half-marathon point, I still felt so great that I began to entertain the idea of running another marathon distance to honor my friend Mike Rush who was several hours* into the Leadville 100 at that time. The idea left me completely at lap 13 when I took a brief walk break. The second I stopped running, I could feel that my legs had not recovered nearly as well as I thought they had from last week's debacle. I never got them going again. I toughed it out for 15 laps, 20 miles, and called it quits. My plan says to "Run hard enough to be tired and sore, but not injured." Better to do a good 20 miles than a really shitty 27 miles.

*If you're interested, Mike is making Leadville his bitch. It's just past midnight Colorado time and he left the Half Pipe Aid Station, mile 70.9, about half an hour ago.

[08/20/12 update: Mike dropped at mile 80 with a bad stomach. His stomach acted up at mile 20 and never quit, leading to dehydration and difficulty keeping warm. An inspiring effort, nonetheless. Mike Rush is a competitor. He will be back!]

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I started running less than two years ago,

so London is the first Olympic Games since I've ever competed at anything. I appreciate the athletes and the effort they put into their chosen sports in a much different way now. I wanted to honor them and thank them for the inspiration they have given me, and the only way I could think to do it was to run 26.2 miles myself. I did it this morning in 5:44, nowhere close to my PR but the best I could muster today. I ran a little extra just to be sure of the distance. So great job Olympians and great job London! You showed us the best of humanity at a time when we all needed to see it. You competed with courage and grace, and by doing so you made the world a better, brighter, more peaceful place.

Sunday, August 05, 2012


I sort of have it, but not really. While I doubt that DSM-IV criteria for clinical depression, when carefully applied, would warrant the diagnosis in my case, it is true that I do not always hear the world with a lush 80's reverb. If I had my levels of neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine checked by a lab, I doubt they would be sufficiently low to justify prescribing an SSRI to regulate them, but that doesn't negate the fact that I do not exactly see the world with that backlit, soft-focus glow like they put around Cybill Shepherd's hair in Moonlighting. I do not present a negative emotionality and all-encompassing low mood to a degree that would indicate therapy, but like the John Mayer song goes, my mellow is not so yellow.

An Interesting Experience

I went to the Fayetteville Farmers' Market this morning where ostensibly healthy white people go to listen to primative music and buy overpriced produce. I had a blast, carrying my empty Walmart reuseable shopping bag around!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day

I support the right of bigots, non-bigots, and any other lovers of chicken to celebrate Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day tomorrow. My traditional spouse and I (traditional in the sense that we are of opposite gender, non-traditional in the sense that we have dissimilar skin color, an issue which to my knowledge has never been publicly raised by Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy) will be trying Zaxby's for the first time. I hear it's delicious!

Zaxby's uses 100% hate-free chicken.