Empty bottle syndrome

Amphipod Hydroform: leaky top

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 9.1 miles

This has been a tough week by any measure, and I’d hoped to address my sleep debt by getting eight full hours last night. I didn’t quite make that, but I did manage seven. Even so, I still felt a little off this morning. I was glad this wasn’t my half marathon weekend because it wouldn’t have gone well.

My plan was to run 12 miles today. Over the past six weeks I’ve done base training at Bethpage on Saturdays, going from 7 to 11 miles by adding a mile every week. Last weekend I broke that cycle, because I was resting on Saturday for Sunday’s 5K race. With only two weekends left to train for the LI Half, I knew I needed to go out for long run today. Sunday is likely to be a washout with heavy rains expected.

I had a late morning appointment so I tried to get out early, but I didn’t quite succeed. I determined that I’d run out of time if I stuck to my original plan, so I cut my distance goal to 9 miles. I had bought some Gatorade G Series Prime Fuel, it’s sort of like a gel in liquid form, and added it to the water in my Amphipod hand bottle. I wanted to test that combination for use during the half.

I dressed lightly for the low-50’s temperatures, but I should have worn an even lighter top layer because it was HUMID.  Almost immediately after I started my run, I noticed that the hand bottle was leaking and sploshing red-tinted liquid all over my hand. I had wrapped a paper towel around the bottle for insulation and dryness but that quickly soaked through. I wasn’t even a half mile into my run when I decided to dump some of the contents to minimize the spillage.

I wore my Brooks Adrenaline to help prevent further aggravation to the sole of my left foot. Prior to putting on my sock, I had rubbed some capzasin cream onto the area that has been giving me trouble. I don’t think it did much to help, but it didn’t hurt to try. By the time I finished mile one I knew that my foot wouldn’t be my biggest problem on the run.

There were many runners, mostly in pairs or groups, along the trail today. Almost everyone greeted me as we passed. I had hoped that all my base running and recent speed focus would make today’s run easier, but I really struggled throughout most of the way through. By the time I reached the steep incline leading over the Southern State, I was concerned about having the strength to complete the entire out-and-back.

I only went .75 miles into the Massepequa Preserve before turning back and facing the climb over the parkway from the other direction. Once I came down I knew I had less than 4 miles to go, but I knew the last two miles would be very difficult.

By the time I was ready to drink from my bottle I saw that there was nothing left to drink. This was a disappointment and the lack of hydration, combined with glycogen and electrolyte depletion, made me grateful that I didn’t attempt the full 12 miles, as originally planned.

I ran the first half of today’s run a minute per mile faster than the second half. The humidity didn’t help an already tough situation. As I slogged through the last two hills, I kept visualizing the final downhill section that would lead me to my car. Nine miles this morning was far tougher than the eleven that I ran two weeks ago.

Due to the Amphipod’s failure, I wasn’t able to assess the effectiveness of the G Series Prime Fuel as a supplement to my water supply. Worse, I am now without a useable water bottle for the race. I hope to find something this week that I can test next weekend. I’m traveling next week so I’m not sure when I can do that. One more week to train and then it’s time to run the LI Half once again. At least I’ve trained hard for it, so far.

Test at Bethpage: Gatorade G Series FIT Perform 02

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 7.35 miles

Nice bottle, but no thanks

I had a mid morning appointment today and that forced me to get out for my run before 7:00 AM. My plan was to get to Bethpage and run the bike trail, covering at least seven miles. I’d rested on Friday because I wasn’t feeling great, and I hoped that would give me a performance boost today.

I brought along a bottle of sport drink with a very long name: Gatorade G Series FIT Perform 02. It’s an electrolyte mix that’s meant to be consumed during a workout. I was testing this mix to see if it’s something I should carry during my half marathon. I’ve learned that satisfaction with performance supplements, like gels and drinks, varies greatly from person to person.

Almost from the start, I could tell that I wouldn’t be burning up the trail today. I had none of the energy I usually expect for these long, early morning runs. I thought it would be a good test of the G Series mix, and a good gauge of my ability to cover 7+ miles when starting with an energy deficit. As I started my Garmin, it chirped and showed “Low Battery.” Like my watch, I hoped I had enough power to get through today’s run.

Considering my low energy, the first couple of miles went by fairly quickly. The temperature was hovering around 30 degrees, but the winds were strong, especially on the way back. I reached the point where I expected to hear a chirp signaling three miles and when I looked at the Garmin the screen was blank. Later, when I recharged the watch, I saw that the battery had given out after 2.61 miles.

Along the way I sipped from the G2 mix, hoping that it would restore my depleted energy levels. The “melon-pear” flavor tasted neither like melon nor pear. In fact it didn’t taste like much of anything. Since I didn’t have an easy way of knowing how far I’d run or how much time I’d been running, I decided to turn back at a place I could locate on Gmaps so I could measure total distance later.

There were many runners on the trail this morning, mostly running in pairs or in groups. I would have felt lonely except that they were all running faster than me. I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with any of them today. I suspect it was the early hour, when competitive club runners go out for long distances before they start their day.

I wasn’t hurting, exactly, but I never felt strong as ran along. I started taking sips of the G2 more frequently as I got closer to the end. The last 1.5 miles of the Bethpage bike trail has the most pronounced hills and I needed a boost, even if it turned out to be more psychological than real. As I approached the final long hill, I decided I’d just pace it fast enough so that I could call it running. At that moment, a group of sleek, fit, compression-clad men and women ran by on my left, chatting away as if this hill was a bump. How humiliating.

After I finished my run, I saw that the G2 mix contained nothing to help my energy stores. The whole 16 oz. bottle contained only 5g of carbs  and 4g of sugar. I’d consumed about half the bottle, so all I got was 110mg of sodium and 30mg of potassium. And it also made me a little queasy. So this mix will not be accompanying me on my half marathon in May.

I accomplished a good part of my weekend distance goal this morning. I need to cover almost 6 miles tomorrow to make my “weekend 13”. It’s not an unreasonable target, but I hope to feel more energized on Sunday.

Bethpage base run better than expected

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 6.7 miles

With Cow Harbor happening next week, I knew I needed to put in a few more base miles before I begin my training taper. Last year I spent a lot of time focusing on the Cow Harbor route and the strategy to run it. I even did a trial run of the course to understand firsthand the challenges of James Street, Waterside Drive and Pumpernickel Hill.

I haven’t done too much thinking about it this year and I’m guessing that’s okay. I know from last year that I should take the first mile slow despite the temptation to sprint along Scudder Avenue’s downhill sections. Better to reserve energy for the end of Bayview Ave. and James Street’s “Widow Hill.” I’m really hoping that the weather will be cooler than last year, when the heat and humidity sent half a dozen people to the hospital. Even so, I know I’ll reach a point during that race when I’m questioning why I’m doing it. All it takes is all you got.

I went over to the bike path at Bethpage State Park this morning. It’s my favorite place for runs on pavement that are longer than four or five miles. The theme of today’s run was time, not speed. I didn’t care how fast I ran, I just wanted to run at least an hour to help reinforce my conditioning. Bethpage isn’t quite as challenging as Cow Harbor in terms of elevation changes, but it’s rolling. The bike trail has two hilly sections that can be tough to get over and the worst of it is at the end.

I brought along my hand bottle that I filled with Gatorade G2 and the air was so cool that I didn’t take my first sip until I was past the 2 mile mark. Although my perceived effort was fairly low I was maintaining a better pace than normal for this type of run. I was actually annoyed when I looked at my Garmin at the three mile mark to see I was pacing around 9:10 per mile because I wanted to do this run closer to 9:50.

There were many runners and cyclists on the path. I noticed more running groups than usual and I wondered if the Ocean to Sound Relay was happening today (I checked later and saw that it will be held on the 25th). I changed direction after a number of runners coming from the other side had passed by. I feared getting swallowed up by them and preferred to draft in their wake. Nothing surprised me more than when I started passing them, first a few single runners and then entire groups. I was simply maintaining my pace. Interestingly, I wasn’t passed by a single runner all day.

By mile five I was beginning to tire but I wasn’t losing much speed. I continued to drink the G2 and almost finished it just before I took on the long hill that comes at the end. I didn’t take the hill fast but I did maintain a steady rhythm as I ascended. I really appreciated the final 50 meters that is all downhill.

Most women ask for roses

I got to my car and was able to sit down immediately because I had placed an AllSport SeatShield covering on my car’s seat. I got a couple of these water/sweat proof covers after my wife (rightfully) complained that towels on the seats don’t do a good enough job. She gets mad when I occasionally take her car to runs and her seats end up moist from sweat. These covers, at about $20 apiece, seemed expensive when I realized that they’re made of material that’s similar to recyclable shopping bags. But the covers fit very well over the seats and kept them dry. If that result makes my wife happy then it’s worth every penny!

Liquid strategy for the Dirty Sock 10K

Performance in a pouch

Tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM I should be off and running on the Dirty Sock 10K trail run. It will be the third time that I participate in this out-and-back race that circles Belmont Lake State Park and passes Southards Pond on the return leg. The last two year’s weather was brutal, hot and humid and even some rain. Predictions for tomorrow show 77° and 71% humidity for the start. Not ideal but better than last  year when rain threatened and finally started falling about 45 minutes into the race.

Low cal libation
Favorite fuel

I’ve trained the best I could with the time I have and I’m planning to use GU Roctane gels for pre-race energy and to help get me through that endless last 2K. I picked up a packet of Gatorade G Series Prime 01 that I will add to my G2 (low sugar) Perform that I’ll carry in my water bottle. Both times I ran Dirty Sock I finished low on electrolytes and fairly dehydrated. Generally I prefer simplicity, but if these supplements help me through my expected struggles then it’s worth the extra care.

I’ll file a full report on the experience. My taper is complete, the race day gear selected and my nutrition plan is set. I’m hoping for the best, but mostly I’m just excited to run this course again and see my family waiting for me at the finish line.