Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I turn off my headlamp and stumble, hands-on-knees, away from the trail and lie down in a ball. I don’t care about the wet ground or the leaves smeared against my face, and I certainly don’t care about my race anymore. I am vaguely concerned that someone will shine their own beam on me and come over to help. The only help I want is to lie here until the fire inside my gut settles down. I comfort myself with a resolute, this time I really mean it: Never Again.

I know I don’t really mean never. But for now anyway, I’m sticking to shorter races. I went into this race, the Dirty Girls 12 hour, with my stomach already bothering me for several weeks, and adding a few hours of sugar fueling did me in. Later I felt embarrassed that I didn’t even last until midnight (the race started at 8pm), but that was overridden by the reality that obviously there was more going on with me than a bad race. The irony is that I’d have lasted longer if I hadn't fueled at all.

Since then I've started eating more protein (tempeh is my new staple) to put carbs in a better balance, cut way back on the loads of fruit I was consuming, and eliminated practically all other sugar (bye bye Snickers). The difference in just a couple of days was phenomenal, with the bloating, abdominal pain and lethargy gone. 

As far as running, I still need to figure out how much gel I can handle versus other foods, and what the best approach is for me. If the rest of my diet is in good balance, then I can definitely get away with more of the quick, easy fuel in races, but based on past experiences I still think I will do better with less sugar. Obviously I don't need to get all of this figured out to perfection (who ever does?) but somewhere more effective than 'lying beside the trail' is definitely required.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to heading up to Haliburton in a couple of days. I had hoped to try to improve my time in the 50 miler, but that will have to wait. I’m going to run the 26k, and am really excited about it. I’ve also signed up for Run for the Toad 25k later in the month. There may even be room for one more race between these (maybe Whiteface?). Then who knows after that.

View from beautiful little Mt. Jo, NY. I had the summit all to myself on our recent camping trip.


GZ said...

Diet ... and diet during races. The two things I can not really figure out ... except when I eat less I seem to be able to do more.

Buttons said...

Good luck on the races coming up Sara. Your first line was so powerful, I felt your pain. I think you did a great job especially while not feeling very well to start with. Take care. I love the photo I bet it was nice to have that all alone.. B

slowrunner said...

ah, sweet abrasive sugar - more addictive than cocaine. it's not so bad once you get it out of your system. i never crave it anymore - seriously!!

great post sara!

EJ said...

I am really sad to hear that you were in such horrible pain that way. For the few times I have had to bring food on a long run I am about 50/50 for having stomach/side stitch trouble which I have attributed to the food in some way. Like the time I ran out of water but decided to take the gel anyways and this weekend when I thought I could handle a granola bar mid run. Both ended with me doubling over with bad aches and I'm glad I was almost home in both cases. Other times I have run with no problem eating gummy bears(Derrick was not too happy about that one) dried fruit(he didn't like that one much either) or whatever was in the house when I left. Honey stingers worked good for me also with no problems. I have also had trouble in some of my shorter races which I attributed to eating my breakfast too close to the start time. I need at least 2 hours if not 3. Eating a banana 1hr prerace is a BIG NO NO. Oh the pain. Just thinking about it makes me not want to run Sydenham this year again but that is what happens when you live on the race course. You sleep in because you don't have to travel then you eat your breakfast too late to digest it. GOOD LUCK THIS WEEKEND! I was thinking of doing Run for the Toad also and email D. about it earlier today. If you want to go together let me know:-)

Sue said...

Sara, I think you'll notice a huge improvement in how you feel since you've upped your protein and eliminated sugar. Another thing that is a major issues is wheat, worse than sugar actually. Most people do not consume enough protein and consume way too many carbs and sugars in their diets. I have noticed a huge difference in my running and overall health since I have significantly increased my protein intake, eliminated wheat,sugar and most carbs over the past few years. Hope you have a great race at Haliburton.

Sara said...

Thanks for the feedback everybody.

Sue, Are you in Poland now? Best of Luck!! Have fun!!

I thought about wheat/gluten, but I seem to be fine now. It seems to be an overall balance of carb/fat/protein thing with me. Definitely an easy solution, which I'm grateful for. My blood amylase level (very low) backed this up.

The refined sugar thing isn't a big deal as I already knew it messed me up so wasn't eating much.

Sue said...

Sara I didn't go to got in the way.

Sara said...

Sue, Crud, I'm sorry. Hope all is well.