Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mexico City Marathon 2016

First and foremost, this carrera (race) was an amazing experience to take part in.  I cannot express enough gratitude for the crowd support, and the runners.  Just like in Boston, you can really feel the good vibes, and intensity.  This was my 13th marathon, and I would have to say, (sorry Pittsburgh) that Mexico is my favorite.

The training was pretty intense at times, averaging about 70 miles per week, which is also for the TARC fall classic 50 miler.  I personally would like to thank my coach 
Lisa Smith Batchen for your time, great workouts, and mostly for having faith in me. Thank you Lisa!  You are so inspiring and encouraging!

We arrived to Mexico late on Tuesday August 23rd.  I got a decent night's sleep, and woke up feeling great.  Lisa scheduled me for 10 miles.  I have never really ran much during the week of a marathon.  I typically have preferred to be well rested.  I had felt like I should rest and not risk being tired, or overtrained.  This time was different. It made sense to me, I needed to get acclimated to the 7,381 feet of elevation gain. Boston is at sea level.  I needed to get some running in, to allow my legs and lungs to get used to the altitude change.

In general, it is definitely challenging to run here.  Mexico City is the 5th largest city in the world, with 22 million people living here.  People are coming and going in all directions, all the time.  Cars, pedestrians, motorcycles on the sidewalks.  There is a lot of pollution.  People in cars, will run you over or should I say, they have the right of way, every time. The sidewalks are broken up, you really have to watch your footing.  Urban trail running!

I got my 10 miles in, and felt great.  Just like anything, I tried to make the best of it, took a bunch of pix, and enjoyed being back running here.

I did not notice a significant difference in the altitude change in my middle miles, but definitely at the beginning and end of this run.  I was scheduled for 10 miles on Thursday, and ran 7, I simply ran out of time.  With that being said, I was acclimated, and ready for the Marathon on Sunday.  I was supposed to run 3 miles Saturday, and had Friday off.  I more or less ate and hydrated, and spent time with family and friends. 

Friday morning, we called an Uber to take us to the expo at the World Trade Center,  We arrived there only to discover that the location of the expo was changed!  The way we found out was because my wife asked someone there, and they said it was only communticated via Facebook.  We called another Uber and off we went.  The expo was nice, and it was cool to connect with our close friends from the United States.

Saturday, we went to a place called Desierto de los Leones. Carb loading continued, I had multiple quesadillas for breakfast, which were to die for.  We stopped at a place on the way back called Las Fresas, "The Strawberries." Friggin yummy!

We came home, and went for dinner and I fueled up on pizza for two. Time for bed, alarm is set for 4:20.  Haha, 4:20!  7 years ago, would NEVER have been in this position.  I would have been severely hungover from a marathon of Corona's and Tequila the previous night.  I woke up before the alarm, had everything ready the night before.  At 5:00, my wife called an Uber.  Off I went...  

I arrived to the area of the starting line, and met up with Enrique and Maritza again.  We chatted, and took a few pix, then hopped the gate, to be with 36,000 of our closest friends.  

They started the race a little late, which was fine, we enjoyed the company in the corral, especially that of a 69 year old guy we were chatting with.  He told us a bit about the course, and shared stories, then before we knew it, it was time for us to run.

We started running, well, doing the jogging in place thingy. Tooooo many people.  I imagine that there were between 1,000 and 2,000 runners in front of us.  Hard to say, but once we started running, it seemed like 22 million!  After 1k, I started bobbing, dodging, and weaving as if I was Barry Sanders in techmobowl.  It was extremely difficult, with still soooooo many corredores in the way, to make ground.  I kept at it, and fought for position, and kept passing and moving up, the best I could.  I kept a great pace, but also kept in mind that if I kept my current pace, I would have a strong finish.  Much to my surprise, the bobbing and weaving NEVER ceased.  I enjoyed photobombing several runners who seemed to think it was ok to take selfies while running.  The course was packed from start to finish.  I enjoyed the challenge of moving up, and tried not to be annoyed.  I made it a game.  Let's see how many people I can pass.  Game on.  

As I mentioned in the beginning, the crowd was so supportive, and totally into the event.  I constantly heard "Vamos, vamos corredores animo, si se puede!". They had several aid stations with water and Gatorade in the 1st half of the race,in the 2nd half the aid was lacking, rigth when runners needed it the most but to my surprise spectators provided  their own aid; There were people with dulces (candies), water, soda, honey, and generic plastic bags with God knows what!  Could have been motor oil, or water from a puddle, I was not gonna try it!  I assumed it was soda.

Mile 17, all that side to side movement caught up to me, as my hip and IT started getting funky, and my pace diminished.  Mile 19, I met up with Erick, a dear friend of my wife from college.  He paced me for the final 10k.  I ran the entire race, no walking breaks.  Thanks to Erick for staying with me, we were still passing everyone at this point.  There were less than 5 people who passed me for the entire race.  Mile 24, I got to see my wife!  I gave my favorite person a kiss, and we were off again.  By this point, and after, the casualties were everywhere. Lots of down runners due to rising temperature, and cramping.  We continued to push the pace, and really went for it at this point.  We approached the Olympic Stadium, and the end was near.  At this point, we were sprinting.  We finished, with a time of 3:39:01.  I was really pleased with my time, considering the altitude, and amount of people I had to pass.  I finished officially in 3,473rd place out of 35,000+ runners.  As I looked at the times for runners, I noticed that the race organizers had counted runners who did not have entries for all there checkpoint time splits.  Meaning, that they did not complete the entire race, but were given credit and placed ahead of me!  Kinda skewed, but whatever...

I took Monday off to rest my hip.  Thankfully, I was not sore muscle wise.  I was supposed to run 14 easy miles, but decided to listen to my body, and rest.  I ran 13 miles on Tuesday, and felt great.

I definitely want to run this again.  It was a lot of fun.  Though I will say that I am looking forward to the TARC fall classic 50 miler the day after we arrive back from Mexico.  It's in the woods, no pollution, no dodging and weaving, and less altitude!

35,000 runers.

After the race, we recovered with family and friends at La Lupita our favorite taqueria.
Por fin, done!
The finisher medal is the letter Ϩ.  The idea is to spell Mexico, and run six consecutive years.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Fuel, nutrition, and stuff

Firstly, I normally don't put anything in my system, if I know that it won't agree with me.  My diet is fairly clean, eating mostly whole foods, but I will eat some sweets, ice cream, cannolis, cheesecake, Swedish fish....

I used to eat like crap before when I was drinking and using.  Whatever I could get my hands on, or more often than not, beer was food.  I would order appetizers as a meal. They went great with beer. More often than not, I would end up filling up on beer, and not be hungry.  It would also spoil my stomach.  I made poor choices. It caught up to me, and found my way into Urgent Care 3 times. DR's told me if I didn't change, I would die.  I kept doing what I was doing.
I knew I had to change but wasn't ready.  Mentally, or physically.  Until one day.  I am not going to go into detail here, but decided that I would go check out an alcohol and drug outpatient program.

I walked in, and was greated by a guy.  He said, "Can I help you?" I said I think so, but was just looking to get information about the program.  He said that I looked rough, and said, "information?". Yeah.  He was an in your face kinda guy.  Information.  He said he knew me.  I was like, what?  He said, "Your an fn alcoholic." And?  "You want information, go to the fn IU internet." "Do you wanna get better?  What lengths will you go to be sober, feel better?". I said take it easy buddy, this ain't the army.  "If you feel like shit, look like shit, why not sign up?". It sunk in, I could not do it on my own.  If I walked out that door without signing up, I knew I was going to end up back in the hospital, or worse.  I signed up, and was one of the best decisions I have made.  Life changing event.

Shortly after I signed up, my life began to change for the better.  For the 1st time in almost 20 years I was thinking with a clear head.  I started to feel better physically, as I needed to cut out the crap I was eating, watch the spicy foods,coffee, and zero booze.

Nowadays, it's a bit different!!!  The night before a race, or a long run typically will have cheese raviolis.  Lots of them, like 2 lbs.  I love my pasta and carbs anyways, and it definitely fuels my race or run the next day, and always agrees with me.  So, if it's not broken, don't fix it.

Morning of, I have between 12-16 oz of STRONG iced coffee, more like espresso.  No more than that, sometimes less, cause it makes me race like a pee horse, I mean, pee like a race horse!

I just recently started using Generation UCAN bars.  The bars contain a superstarch, which is slow release, sustainable energy that fills my empty stomach, and fuels my run.  The coffee bean bar does not melt, and I will bring one in my pack, just in case I get hungry, after about 4 hours running.

I switched over from a couple other brands, because I literally would have to crap between miles 2, and 3.

It's annoying, and became a problem. Not to go on and on, but since we moved back to the city. I have been in a few predicaments, with no woods, no stores open, no places to GO!  Again, if it doesn't agree with me, I don't put it in my system.  The other brands stopped working for me, and I needed to change.  For now, UCAN is working, energy, and GI wise.

I also reached out to another ultra runner, and mentor.  He mentioned that he doesn't eat much, even in 100 mile distance, and relies mostly on Tailwind.  He used the Clif pouches, so I gave these a shot too.  The mango banana one I bought taste great, and settles well. Not too filling, but it's food.

Many ultra runners can eat whatever during a race, subs, pizza, burritos, McDonald's, and drink soda, energy drinks, and coffee.   I cannot.  I would not be able to run another 100 feet.  I would cramp up, and that would be the end of me for that day.

I have been known to snack on Swedish fish and gummies, treating myself with little rewards.  In January, I ran on the treadmill for the 1st time.  I went to the gym, and decided while I was in the parking lot, I would Run the Los Angeles marathon virtually, in support of a fellow Runwell teammate named Chad.  Chad introduced me to Runwell, and I had the time, and motivation to run.  I filled up my water bottles, put in some Tailwind(I will talk about Tailwind in a few).  I checked to see what else I had, and noticed I had a bag of Swedish fish!  I am all set now, let's get this party started.

I started running, and felt fine conditional, just not mentally.  I just was bored.  The 3rd time I saw the same crap on Sportcenter, I thought I was going insane.  I knew, and know, a lot of distance running is between the ears.  I started breaking down this into smaller segments.  I would run for 20 minutes, and reward myself with a handful of Swedish fish!  All I had to do was go 29 More minutes, to the next aid station, and I would get more fish!  Next thing I knew, I was 20 miles in, and the last 6 would be easy.   I got on Facebook during a fish break, and realized that some other teammates were starting a 7 day endurance race, 4deserts Sri Lanka 255k self supported endurance event.  At that point, I looked at the stages, and decided that I would challenge myself, and virtually run that!!!

23, 24, 27, 26, 18, 31, and 5 miles!  7 consecutive days.  I was up for the challenge, but I knew if I was going to be able to complete this, I would need to work out the logistics, and get a lot more friggin Swedish fish!  So that's what I did. Bought more, and used the same plan, just go 20 minutes, eat some fish, and suck it up and keep going  until the next aid station.  It worked.  I even did most of it with zero music, just to see if I could mentally deal with the monotonous task of banging out miles, day after day.  The mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Tailwind.  I don't know how I ever lived without it.  I tried GU'S , shot blocks, Gatorade.  Tailwind is an electrolyte powder.  Their motto is everything you really need.  No gut bombs.  I have never bonked, nor hit " the wall" in later miles while using Tailwind.  2 scoops per 24oz =200 calories.  It agrees with me, always works, I always use Tailwind. Always.

Post looooong run or race, I don't and cannot eat right away. I try and consume and iced mocha.  At home I prepare espresso iced coffee, and add chocolate muscle milk.  It gets rid of the fog, wakes me up, and I get done protein ASAP for recovery.  Shower, then ready for whatever the day brings. Then, I'll eat properly.

I will usually have a smoothie, banana, blueberries and coconut milk and protein powder post shower.  With this, I may eat a granola bar.  Nothing super heavy, greasy, spicy yet.

For lunch, I will typically eat pizza.  Could be cheese, meatlovers, white, depending on what I feel like.  I also eat subs, or sandwiches.  All different types, calzones as well.

Afternoon snack is often another protein smoothie, and maybe some fruit, especially in the summer.

For dinner, I usually have a normal meal.  All depends what is on the menu!

As I continue training for my 1st 100 miler, I am confident that I won't drink alcohol, have a great training base, and finally have a nutrition plan to succeed and finish, and hopefully complete for a top 20 finish!  Aim higher!!!