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    Fade to Black

    900 418 Terri Rylander

    “Can I pick up your foot?”  “What?” “Can I pick up your foot?”  “Why do you want to pick up my foot?” This was the confusing conversation we had as I was waking up after passing out for the first time ever.

    My training plan called for a 10 mile run today. And, as usual, I’d much prefer dirt and trails to hard, hot pavement. I also knew it might be a few degrees cooler getting up near the hills rather than to run in town. See, it’s an unusually hot week this week and the daily highs are expected to be near or more than 110 degrees.

    I made a plan to run my cross bajada 11 mile route at 6am. There’s over 1000 feet of climbing in the first 5 or so miles, so it’s a steady grind on the way up. Then the trail gets rocky and technical as it rolls across the bajada and turns back to a smooth, wide dirt road all the way back down.  Though I had planned to go solo, as I’d done a number times before, my running buddy Gary decided he’d join me.

    We met at 5:45am and drove out to the start of the route. “What’s your PR for this route?” he asked. “2:14,” I said.  “Are you going to beat that today?” he replied.  I told him maybe, not wanting to  sound anything more or less than open-minded.  You never know which runner you will show up as on any given day. Sometimes you feel unmotivated to run but end up running your best and other times you are psyched and get out there only to find your legs under full protest.

    We set out just after 6am running at a pretty good pace. The interspersed walk breaks were short, and about 4-5 minutes apart. For some reason, it always takes me about 2-3 miles to get fully warmed up and able to hold a steady run. This route’s climb and Gary’s pace made that even longer. He quickly pulled away. I briefly caught him just before mile 4 but he pulled away again.

    I was working hard and my stomach was not. Hard to say if it was the belly full of oatmeal or the full water bottle I downed before the start, but my stomach was not very happy. I kept sipping my water hoping that would help, but it didn’t.

    I always love the technical part of the trail but this time it was difficult. I was breathing hard and my gut was wrenched, like someone punched me. I took way more walk breaks than I would have liked to but kept it up. The smooth downhill was a welcome but brief relief and with about a mile to go, Gary, who had turned up a side road for extra miles, passed me and yelled, “PR baby!” I knew I was making good time and it would be close but I was really beginning to struggle. I just focused on making nearby milestones and soon the car was in sight.

    I finished in 2:18. Not a PR but a good time, nonetheless. You’d think that your body would breathe a sigh of relief not to be running anymore, only I now was having a hard time catching my breath. I walked around for about 3-4 minutes and started feeling even worse. I took a sip of my protein drink (always bring those for after long runs) and it didn’t sit well. Then my head started really spinning and I felt nauseous.  “I REALLY don’t feel well,” I told Gary. So, I sat down on the ledge of the back seat of the car. My head started tingling. I almost told him I feel like I’m gonna pass out. But, I didn’t want to sound melodramatic and really didn’t believe it would happen.

    Next thing I knew, he was asking me if he should pick up my feet. I couldn’t understand why he would ask that since I was sitting in the car. I opened my eyes and found myself sitting on the dirt!  “How did I get here?” I asked, confused. “You just slumped down and slid out of the car. Did you hear me ask if you were still with me?” Gary asked. “Um…no?” I replied. I guess he asked me a couple times. It really was a strange feeling–just like I went to sleep for a few minutes and woke up.

    I laid down in the backseat and put my feet up on the headrest. Immediately, I felt so much better.

    So, was it because I:

    • ran too hard?
    • ran too fast?
    • ran on a full belly?
    • ran when it was too hot?
    • got dehydrated?

    I’ll probably never know, but chalk that one up to yet another new experience.

    PS. This might explain it. Also read that your blood pressure can drop after intense exercise. The two might be related.

    When people are involved in high intensity exercise over at least several minutes, they require a LOT of blood flow to the working muscles. So the blood vessels in our muscles, especially the legs, dilate to accommodate all this increased blood. Now, our body depends on contraction of our leg muscles to push blood from the legs back up to the heart. During intense exercise our ability to maintain adequate blood pressure depends on this pumping of blood back to our heart by our legs. If you suddenly stop running, the blood return from your legs to your heart suddenly drops and so you don’t have enough blood to pump to your brain–plop, down you go.


    Crazy Mileage and Licorice

    900 598 Terri Rylander

    It’s only the second week post 50K race and I’m not doing very well at taking some recovery time. 🙁  I do feel pretty good and do want to continue to train for the 24 Hours of Utah (Moab) at the end of March.

    So, I’ve taken the Ultraladies 50K training schedule and backed it up from the next race and the miles ramp up pretty quickly. I officially hit the exact, recommended training miles last week of 48. That included my longest road run yet!

    24HrMoab_racestartLast Saturday, I ran 20 miles. Well, I actually incorporated a 4:1 run/walk strategy 1) to see how effective it would be to help me make the longer distance, and 2) to see if it would work to use as a strategy for Moab.  It’s surprising how little the walking effects your overall pace. I did the 20 miles in just over 4 hours, so right about a 12 minute pace. All things considered, I feel pretty good about it.

    I was actually under 12 minutes and feeling good until mile 14, heading down one of the steeper hills on the route. That’s when my IT band decided to protest. It reduced me to much more walking and shuffling than I had planned. Was due to hit the 15 mile mark at 20 minutes under the 12 minute per mile pace. Actually hit it in just 2 minutes under. That tells you how much I slowed in those last two miles!! Once the route leveled out, it did get a little better, but it never stopped bothering me.

    Fast forward to Sunday, hiked 10 miles – relatively easy. Tuesday, ran a 5 mile route during the day at 10:37 pace and then ran 3 more with our run club that night.  Then came Thursday.

    I started the “Dirty Thursday” concept with our running club. I’m trying to get weekly time running on trails and not roads. So, every Thursday I find a local route and head to the hills. I have seen so many wonderful things that way. Sunrise over the mesa and mountains, desert tortoises, semi-wild horses, tarantulas, snakes, flowers….  There’s always something.

    I had an 11 mile route planned that I’d done before. But, as it happened, it was our town’s annual Heart Walk and a great opportunity to expose people to our running club. I set up a table there, met lots of nice people, and then got caught up in the vortex to go the 3 miles across town. Of course that automatically meant another 3 to get back.  Ran both ways, relatively fast.

    DSC_6490Still wanting to get my miles, I headed up to the dirt and started running up the hill. First part of the 11 is a steady climb for 5 miles. Long and relentless, especially if you don’t feel all that well. I had a tummy ache from the start – fearing I’d end up having my first trail bathroom issue. Managed not to, but by the time I got to the top of the hill, I felt pretty bad and very tired (never mind I’d already done 6 miles in town).

    Next 2 miles go across the bajada on a series of rolling hills and rocky terrain. It’s my favorite part but I struggled. More walking than I wanted. Finally got back to the other dirt road which is all down hill. Still felt bad, but was easier coasting down. Got back to my truck and felt like I might toss my cookies. Drank some water, drank some protein drink, finally felt a bit more human after about 15 minutes and headed home.

    licoriceLater that night, I was having more black licorice – which I’d had the night before. Tummy started acting up again which finally triggered my thinking. I know licorice can be a mild laxative so I looked it up. Turns out that licorice (the real stuff made from real licorice, which this was) also causes potassium levels to fall. Something pretty harmful to long distance running. Can cause lethargy, blood pressure issues, and even heart issues. Hmmmm….note to self.  Bummer because I love the stuff.

    I logged my miles in Map My Run and was astonished to find I’d run 56 miles in just 6 days. Holy cow.  Good thing I’m traveling this weekend and probably won’t be running!


    Zen and the Art of Running

    516 346 Terri Rylander

    The running has been going well. I’ve been increasing the mileage and have not had to work too hard to get myself out of the house earlier and earlier as the heat here in the desert starts to kick in. I think part of it is the excitement and newness of running and improving every time. The other part is the quiet, alone, me time.

    Unless I’m doing a group run, I always bring my music with me. It somehow puts me in a better mood and the miles just fall away. That’s exactly what happened this past weekend.

    It was a beautiful Saturday morning and I went out fairly early – maybe 6:30am. Left the house with the intention of making this my longest run ever. I had recently done a 14 miler but was now mentally prepared for more. Partly this need for distance comes from an acceptance that I’m starting late in the game and will probably never be fast, so might as well be long.

    Left the house and headed down the hill, passing the yards of different houses. I love looking at each one, wondering what kind of plants they have, how they have them arranged, which ones I might consider some day, and thoughts like that.  Within a few miles, I pass the golf course and then the Catholic church. After that it’s up the hill and down the dump road. The dump road itself is 10 miles roundtrip with nothing but desert scenery to look at.

    zenRunning long gives you lots of time to think and I’ve had lots on my mind lately. Maybe everyone does….more or less at times. I’m finding my runs to be pretty cathartic. It was at about the 13 mile mark when I lost track of about a mile. It was the strangest thing. All of the sudden I forgot that I was running. I just got in such a steady state and was busy in my own mind, that I somehow missed a whole mile. It was actually kind of cool. I guess that’s what being in a Zen state would be like.

    I wrapped up miles 16 and 17 chugging back up the hill to my house. My longest yet most peaceful run yet.