Friday, April 24, 2009

Q & A: You Q'ed, I'll A.

OK, hang with me everyone because I swear this is going to be the last running-related post for a while. After this, I'll go back to bungling things and seeing how many pieces of popcorn shrimp I can eat at once and whining about the tumbleweeds rolling out of my vajay. But first, I'm going to give my best shot at matching A's with the Q's you left in the comments of my last two posts. Here goes...

Mary@Holy Mackerel: Didn't you hear your mother telling you to dress more warmly???

Yes, and before the race I was swaddled in several layers of clothing, rocking two shirts like Binford-era Al Borland. As a general rule, though, when you run you're supposed to dress like the temperature is twenty degrees warmer than it is, because that's how it will feel. Monday's 40-something Farenheit felt like sixty, and so on. This twenty degrees thing is one of those maxims I've heard repeated but haven't found any evidence to back it up, putting it on the same list with Don't swim after you eat, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's ass, and Jamie Lee Curtis was born with a penis.

Mike: You have to tell us about the gloves and other people wearing arm warmers.

When you're running, the blood flow to your extremities sucks since most of the juice is going to your heart, lungs, and legs. This means your hands can get cold quickly...and then they'll stay that way. As for the arm warmers, it's the same principle, since races start early in the a.m. and the ones on the spring and fall sides of the calendar can be chilly. Arm warmers can keep you toasty while you're standing around but can also be easily stripped off after you warm up, as opposed to trying to wriggle out of a long-sleeved shirt.

I actually had a pair of arm warmers for the first couple of miles, which made me look less like an athlete and more like the Bee Girl from that Blind Melon video.

Cardiogirl: No music? Not listening to an iPod while running for over three and a half hours?

Last year, Boston made a big deal about iPods and about how music was a competitive advantage, as if they expected the unbridled energy of John Cougar Mellencamp to send me rocketing past the Kenyans as I shouted "LITTLE PINK HOUSES, BITCHES". They went so far as to threaten to disqualify anyone they spied wearing earbuds, but apparently they backed off on that stance a bit this year, changing the wording in the race info packet to reflect something about "strongly discouraging" them instead.

I did all of my training to music--most of it involving the words Huey and Lewis--but chose not to rock out during the race because the crowds in Boston are absolutely mindblowing. It's 26 miles of people cheering, shouting, and clapping for everyone that goes by and I think that probably motivated me more than hearing "Hip to Be Square" for the brazillionth time.

Robbie: The gloves, are they for impromptu magic tricks to boost morale for other runners?

Pantomime, actually. I ran the first five miles pretending to be trapped in a tiny box.

Also, I didn't want to leave fingerprints on any of the Gatorade cups I tossed. I've seen Gattaca. I know how these things work.


los_tartist: You have to qualify to run marathons? They don't just let you stroll across the finish line at your leisure?

Fun Fact: The Baaaaastin Marathon is both the world's oldest annual marathon and--other than the one run during the Olympics--is the only one you have to qualify for.

Any other marathon, no, you don't have to qualify. You pay your entry fee, pin your number on your shirt, and you're off. Boston sets qualifying standards based on your age and gender and you have to complete a certified marathon in that time--or faster--before you can run their annual April crampfest. Elitists.

What was the temperature there?

Pre-race, it was probably 40-ish and warmed to 45 in the middle of the course. Since it starts at 10 a.m., you're running in the warmest part of the day. Unfortunately, the sun was negated by the steady (~25 mph) headwind which sent a lot of people into the medical tents with hypothermia. My cot was sandwiched between two other shivering people who--by the time I was wheeled in for treatment--were both wrapped up like expats from the Ptolemaic era.

Sun Runner: I'd like to know if you followed a particular variety of training plan. If I don't BQ at Cleveland, it's back to the drawing board for me...I've been Hal Higdon-ing it for two halfs and this full, and maybe there's a training schedule that's better-suited to my needs out there.

First, Hal Higdon is awesome. His wisdom got me through my first half marathon and I repeated that program more than once. For this race and for last year's Boston, I designed my own program using the Runner's World Smart Coach. I'm more of a lover sprinter than a distance runner so--even though it's essentially computer generated--I like the emphasis on speedwork. Plus you can set your own parameters as far as how many miles you want to run per week and the intensity of the program, ranging from Easy to SWEET CHRIST ON A CRACKER, WHAT HAVE I DONE?

Most importantly, best of luck on your BQ [Boston Qualifying] effort. Let me know how it goes, because I fully intend to set a small fire in celebration.

Erin: Hey, so what ended up being the diagnosis on the Achilles tendon injury?

Here's the thing. I tend to avoid doctors unless they're being played by Hugh Laurie, mainly because I have the Big Lots of health insurance and it's not exactly cost effective for me to sit in a waiting room reading outdated issues of People. My sister, Runtie, is a nurse who said that the Med Tent Crew's initial use of the word 'rupture' was probably premature since if that were the case, my tendon would've retracted like a cheap tape measure. I asked her what a doc would tell me; she said I'd probably get a lecture about staying off my leg and not running for a couple of weeks. Simple enough. I'd planned to take a post-race break anyway and by DIY-ing it, I'll have more money to spend on McGriddles and candy.

Ms. Changes Pants While Driving: How many marathons have you run?

Three. San Diego ('07), Boston ('08) and Boston ('09). I also just registered for New York (November '09) because I have suffered some kind of brain injury.

How long have you been running?

Since 2001, when I started dating a guy who’d run track in college and--after a double decade layoff--decided to drag his Nikes out of the closet and get back into it. Since we were still in the bright shiny stages of our fledgling relationship, running together sounded like another excellent way to bond, since at that point I had no idea how hard it is to carry on a conversation when you’re dry heaving in someone’s flower bed. Almost eight years and at least thirty pairs of shoes later, he’s the one I can attribute this madness to. It’s especially fitting since he eventually ran off with another woman.

How are you so awesome?

Really? Because as I write this, I'm wearing a Schlitz malt liquor t-shirt I just stained with tartar sauce and have spent my Friday night alternately watching Morrissey videos on YouTube and wondering whether I can still turn my eyelids inside out. Thank you, but I couldn't be farther from awesome.

Kaeti: What's your favorite race fuel (brand/flavor)?

Are you talking about the gels you choke down during runs? Carb Boom, Banana Peach flavor because it tastes like baby food, which is actually a major selling point for me. Sometimes C-Boom can be hard to find, so my runner up is GU.

Chafing. In really BAD places. How do I prevent it? Do I have to body glide my bum? After my first 20-miler I felt like there were fire ants in my drawers.

This is one malady I've managed to avoid but--thanks to working in and eventually being fired from a running store--I know how to prevent it. Body Glide is one way to attack it, as are compression shorts. If that doesn't get it done, try liberally sprinkling talcum powder in your shorts. Seriously. And not just because it's intimidating to the competition if you fire a white cloud out of your ass.

Jen: How the holy f did you run a 6:17 mile at the end of a brutal marathon!?!?!

Because I had to. Because I'm less than a success in almost every other aspect of my life. Running is the only thing--other than spilling drinks at every social occasion I've attended since 1995--that I've consistently done well and if I'd lost that too? RIGHT BEFORE I TURN THIRTY? Jesus. If I hadn't requalified, I most likely would've had some kind of psychotic episode that ended with me splashing around naked in a mall fountain, demanding that people pelt me with coins so that I could grant their wish.

Deidre: How do you get your hair to look so awesome?

Because my hairdresser is amazing. Before I found his salon I looked like I was wearing a cocker spaniel's ass for a hat.

Jillie1979: I once heard something creepy about peoples' toenails falling off after running marathons. Is there any truth to this?

Oh yeah. Runners lose toenails like I lose jobs, which is to say often and effortlessly. Typically it's from wearing kicks that are just small enough to allow your toe to bang the end of the shoe, damaging the nail bed and eventually ejecting the nail. Sometimes there might be fungus involv--wait, were you eating? I'm sorry.

Thanks again for the supportive comments and for the questions. Should you have any other running-related queries, drop me a note at thetyping [at] gmail [dot] com.

Now I'll be getting back to the business of failing at things.


David said...

This advice should be heeded because:
-it is offered by someone like your dad
-it is offered by someone who is old and still running

Get a doctor to check the injury. Really. Frickin' really, really.

Kaeti said...

You have no idea how excited I am to put talcum powder in my ass. ... (Thanks for the tip, though.)

Carb Boom orange/vanilla has been my favorite lately because of the caffeine. Until they start making gels with crack, it'll have to do.

Michael said...

Oh, I vociferously disagree.

You are teh awesome.

You get up the morning awesome, you rock through the day emitting awesome from every pore, and you drop into bed at night with plenty of awesome to spare.

If noise was awesome, you'd be Metallica.

emmysuh said...

Um, not entirely sure how you made a post about running for basically no reason (my least favourite thing, probably) to be so damn interseting and entertaining, but kudos on that.

"LITTLE PINK HOUSES, BITCHES!" may become my new motto. I plan on tattoing it on my body, or at least shouting it as I accept my diploma in a week or so.

Seriously, though, congrats again. I still think you are awesome. I hope there'll be an SVU marathon happening sometime this weekend to contribute to your leg healing. Just sit on your ass and enjoy Mariska's hair morphology.

Carebear said...

I HATE to run, and am not a big music fan, still I find myself fully interested and entertained by every single post you write. Why is that? I think perhaps it's the English teacher in me that really admires your unusual imagery - you're a very descriptive writer. Even better, you're funny, and I like people who can make me laugh. Thanks for the funny, interesting and entertaining q&a.

Carebear said...

Oh, damn you emmysuh. I just read your comment after I posted mine, and I totally and unintenionally plagiarized you. Oops.

GYL said...

bloody hilarious - 'little pink houses, bitches'

If I ran with my i-pod (big if on the actual running....) considering what is on there, I'd probably blurt out a NKOTB related song which may be more than a little embarrassing.

Love your work (marathon and blog-wise)

joyRuN said...

The most hilarious running Q&A I've ever read.

Congrats again!

Grace said...

I am still so beyond impressed that you finished, on an injury, with a stegasaurus body temperature! I could finish a marathon, maybe, if I were borne down the course on a litter, princess-style. YEAH J-MONEY!!!

jen said...

Fun, thanks for answering my question! You're awesome.

I stick to chocolate/vanilla type Gu. I just pretend it's frosting. The others all taste like ketchup to me.

Mike said...

I think you could get enough people next year to do a documentary. All those available sign up here.

The Laminator said...

Congrats again on your run. I think you might have had a small tear of the Achilles but definitely not a rupture...people don't walk with a ruptured Achilles', much less run sub 7 min miles. (And yes, I'm a doctor, so I can make diagnosis on the fly like that!) Anyway, congrats on requalifying for Boston next year.

I'm looking forward to your NYC adventure because it's also my hometown race!

First things first though...make sure you take some time off and heal from your injuries...

Daddy said...

"If noise was awesome, you'd be Metallica."

If that were game it would be Def Leppard.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

wait! What about my question?

Which is:

Have you tried salty Christ on a cracker? Because the salt really brings out the Christy goodness.

Other than that omission, this was an excellent q and a.

Christy said...

Some other peeps said it, which only makes it more importantly my job to reiterate: When a person hates running as much as many of us do, it's refreshing to be able to live vicariously through your marathons -- pains, gains, & all -- mostly because you are such an awesome writer! Moreover, you're generally an awesome person & there are few as awesome (if not moreso) than you, namely Hugh Laurie, Huey Lewis, & Robin Hitchcock -- I think you'd agree.

Seriously, though, congrats again on your achievement!!! We're all so proud of you!

Oh, & to quote Shakespeare in part, "Get thee to a" DOCTOR! (I'm such a dork)

Sarah said...

That Blind Melon song is live-streaming on my computer RIGHT NOW.

kilgore said...

I have been reading your blog for about 2 weeks now and i love it. i just HULA HOOPED the Music City Half Marathon (my first marathon under any circumstances) here in Nashville last weekend and reading about your experience in Boston the week before was, well, terrifying. but also inspirational. I am a runner as well (although not those kind of distances yet) and i think you're awesome! maybe i'll see you in NY 2010...

Victoria said...

Arm panties (other people call them arm warmers) are one of my new favorite running things. Preferably in something that will start a conversation, like leopard print.

I also don't see how people can eat gels. I think they're nastiness in a packet, no matter what flavor you try them in. I can eat shot bloks for fun though (and have)-- they're that good.