Thursday, February 13, 2014

Running on Empty

I’ve spent much of this week in Charlotte, NC, where the headquarters of the company I work for are located. I come here a few times a year, and usually am greeted with pleasant weather great for running. This time, however, I’ve managed to time my stay with literally the biggest storm the area has seen in the last decade. Coming from a place that gets a lot of snow, it’s a bit comical seeing the reaction from people here. It’s pretty nasty out, but far from armageddon. Local news is making it sound like hurricane Katrina, the movie “Twister”, and the San Francisco fire of 1906 all rolled into one. Local stores are completely sold out of supplies, grocery stores are being bought out of everything from bread to candy, and virtually all restaurants are closed. All for a few inches of snow!

I’m used to running in cold temps and snow, and didn’t think twice about hitting my favorite local route, a trail system called the Little Sugar Creek Parkway. The only problem was that getting off work I was very hungry, and knew I’d bonk horrifically on a long run without any fuel. I try to tell people that one advantage of training (for triathlon or anything, really) is that it changes the way you think about food. So many people see food as bad, count calories, etc. On the other hand, I see food and associated calories as fuel that is essential for success. That doesn’t mean I recommend my fueling strategy from last night, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
their fueling strategy was better planned out than mine

I wished I had a flask of liquid shot, some gels, or anything for that matter, but I was empty-handed. On top of that, the stores near my hotel were closed due to the weather, meaning my most viable option was the hotel lobby. Nothing on the menu was even remotely conducive to a long run ending well, but I decided a cheese pizza was acceptable. For a minute I actually considered carrying a folded slice while I ran, taking a hit as needed as you would a gel. However, with gloves on the idea seemed absurd (as if it wasn’t without the gloves). Before I knew it I had put down half of the pizza, and had to pull on the reins to not eat more. That would be plenty of fuel for the tank and then some. I let it “settle” for a half hour or so, then was on my way. The run itself felt pretty good, and besides a lovely couple walking their dogs, I had the trails to myself the whole time. It wasn’t snowing, windy, or even very cold. Towards the end of the run I was already getting hungry again, and my thoughts turned to what my “recovery” fuel would be upon finishing. Lo and behold I encountered a Trader Joe’s at mile 8 (open for business!), and decided to hop in. My objective was to grab the first thing I saw with some protein and sugar, get in and get out. I settled on a box of peanut butter granola bars, then grabbed a yogurt and some chocolate milk for good measure. I looked ridiculous, and the girl at the counter sincerely asked if “everything was ok.” I said “yeah, I’ve just gotta run back to my hotel.” I grabbed my stuff and ran the last two miles with goods in hand, laughing at the situation.
Just a day in the life of a triathlete… and man, that stuff tasted good post-run!

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