Day 120 – Cut short by carbs

30 04 2010

Yesterday’s 10-mile run fell a mile short due to an experiment. I’ve been trying to find the right energy/blood sugar boost to get me through longer runs. I’m picky about this…don’t want anything that’s going to slosh in my stomach, and eating gummies, Gu, etc. makes me want to hurl. I picked up Dex4 at Target. It’s flavored glucose for diabetics packaged in a small, 2 oz. plastic bottle meant to quickly raise low blood sugar with 15 grams of liquid carbs. Seemed perfect to fit into my running skirt pocket for chugging.

At mile 4, I downed my “Berry Burst Liquid Blast” and kept moving. The taste was tolerable! But a half mile later I felt a bit nauseous. Too fruity… At mile 6 I was running by my house, where I stopped to check my blood sugar on the porch — it was just under 100 — good to go for another 4 miles. By mile 8, cramping knives hit my stomach and had me sprinting home in pain. No way was that 10th mile happening. And so much for my stomach for the rest of the day.

This is why trial and error is key to my long runs (only three left ’til the race). Now I know Dex4 is not an option. Monday’s Denver Post had a relevant article: “You can fuel your body like an athlete: Timed carbohydrates and liquids will keep you running strong”

“‘Athletes who run more than 90 consecutive minutes must continue to refuel the muscles and the brain with carbohydrates,’ says Bouquet. ‘About 30 to 60 grams (100 to 250 calories) of carbohydrates per hour from ‘go-gurts,’ dried fruit, frozen grapes, sport drinks, gels and bars, and even jelly beans will do the trick.’…Fluids are vital during a race as well to prevent dehydration that can drastically affect performance, says Bouquet. She recommends switching back and forth between water and sports drinks — 6 to 10 ounces every 15 minutes — during endurance events to supply fluids as well as essential electrolytes (especially sodium).”

I’m reminded why 9+ miles (more than 90 minutes for me) has always been intimidating. Even non-diabetics have to worry about this as the article describes:

“So it’s important not to ‘bonk’ — the term used to describe what happens when muscle fuel (glycogen) is depleted and a runner ‘hits the wall.’ The brain cannot burn fat for energy, says Bouquet; it needs carbohydrates before and during strenuous events. Otherwise, blood-sugar levels drop drastically and cause disorientation and other symptoms of hypoglycemia.”

My next experiment includes a handheld water bottle called an Amphipod that has a pouch for my glucose tablets (sticking to solid form). Thinking I’ll fill it with Gatorade to sip along the way to give me extra carbs and electrolytes. Will try to grab a few waters at the stations on the course — but I’m fearful of the “stomach sloshing” and needing to pee! Will try out the Amphipod on my planned 12-mile run Sunday — the longest practice run before the actual race on May 16.

To those readers who have done a half marathon or more — please share what you ate and drank along the way. I’m very open to suggestions… My two-mile recovery run today will be a nice break. Hands-free with no food or drink required!


Day 77 – My meat eater

18 03 2010

Hungry tiger at the Denver Zoo

Zach and I went to the zoo this morning while the spring weather is still here and he has his mornings free. Sadly, there is snow blowing in soon… and next year, my little buddy will go to school all day. That is starting to hit me and make me feel bad for not always making the most of our mornings.

A quick trip before kindergarten gave us time to watch the seal and tiger feedings. The zoo keeper (is that the official title?) strategically placed raw meat on logs and rocks around the tiger’s outdoor space. Then the giant was let out on a carnivorous treasure hunt! Zach watched in amazement as the tiger made his way to all the piles of hide-and-seek meat. And then he told me he could be a tiger — and just eat meat all day.

Oh my son… I have been trying so hard to stuff more vegetables and fruit into you lately. Being a tiger must sound like a dream! I can barely get you to eat one color a day, not to mention 5 servings. Even just eating fish like the seal would be better than your meat and carb diet…

Anna, on the opposite side of the garden fence, will eat almost whatever you put in front of her. She would be fine as a vegetarian giraffe — eating greens like a champ. She will snack on raw peppers, carrots, fruit of all colors and will also eat meat like a tiger.

I have made the same meals for both kids for six years. Pink and blue plates with the same choices. Are they really just programmed so differently? I was a picky eater as a kid (maybe still…), so I often wonder — is Zach the oddball, or is Anna?

I think I have to chalk it up to one-out-of-two-ain’t-bad logic and just keep slicing apples, peeling oranges and sneaking squash into the spaghetti sauce. Maybe we can have a treasure hunt for grapes and green beans?

Right now we just need fresh groceries — or we will all have to become carnivores living out of the freezer. The closest grocery store is 8 miles away, which makes it tough to fit into my day. I should have just literally run to the grocery on my afternoon run, but I happily stopped at 6 miles. There is a meeting tonight about a grocery store finally opening in our neighborhood, promising fresh, local produce and organic choices. And lucky for Zach and other tigers in the neighborhood — there will also be a butcher!

Day 54 – Five a day for a smaller dress

23 02 2010

Refocused myself on eating better after a weekend of cheese, cake and other indulgences. I said in early February I would track my daily fruits and vegetables for a week to see how I did — in celebration of heart health month. I knew, in my presumably healthy heart, that I don’t hit the recommended 5 a day very often. And I was right.

I averaged 2.6 a day — ranging from a measly 1 to an impressive 5 — evenly split between fruits and veggies. Breakfast is my weakest meal, with snacks leading in the fruit department and dinner, not surprisingly, winning with veggies. Conclusion: 5 a day is really tough for me on a consistent basis. And I actually LIKE most fruits and veggies.

When you are logging food, I do think you are more conscious of what you are eating. I wanted to write down more, so I probably ate more fruits and veggies than usual. Food logs totally make sense, but as I’ve said before — just seem like so much work! I might try to include sporadically just for the wake-up call.

Along the lines of eating better, I picked up a new book at the bookmobile today called “Cook Yourself Thin Faster” by Leauren Deen. It’s the second book based on a Lifetime Network show I’ve never seen… but the recipes and eating ideas appealed to me. Everyday family food — not a diet book — that you can cook quickly and consume with fewer calories. I try to do this already, making adjustments to some favorite recipes, but I am a big fan of buttery, creamy sauces so thought it was worth checking out. Even has desserts and a pineapple mojito I’m planning to try!

Tonight we tried the easy Oven Fried Chicken with Cinnamon Spice, and I used a Panko crust. Everyone liked it — although Zach added ketchup which is his common disguise for meat. Check out the recipes, book and shows at this link.

The book promises “Delicious ways to drop a dress size.” I’m all over that with a family wedding coming up in May. It has an intro with tips for “Five Big Changes You Can Make.” Number four is — you guessed it — eat lots of fruits and vegetables!

Deen’s tips for getting to 5:
– Keep a fruit bowl on the counter (check)
– Try adding a veggie to everything you’re making (easier for me in the summer when I can go to the local organic farm)
– Try a new veggie from the produce section (I made squash soup with parsnips over the weekend!)
– Try exotic fruits as snacks or in smoothies (kiwi, mangoes, etc.)
– Dried and frozen fruits count (I do love dried cranberries in spinach salad!)

So an ongoing effort that may pay-off with a fabulous, smaller new dress than I have in my closet today…and, oh, Deen adds exercise as number 6 on her “Five Big Changes…” list, so I faithfully did my 3-mile run too!

Day 34 – High altitude-doodles

3 02 2010

High altitude challenges both bakers and runners. Zach and I made our snickerdoodles today, which were delicious — chewy and crispy in spite of losing some “puff” in the last minutes of cooking.

After living a mile high in Denver for 10 years, I still don’t remember to adjust recipes for our lack of air pressure. You need less baking soda and powder here, and you have to decrease the sugar and add liquid because flour is drier above 5,000 feet. Also need to increase the oven temp and shorten the baking time. Whew – kind of a science experiment when you try a new recipe!

Zach, who is 5 and loves cooking, science and all carbohydrates, told me while beating the eggs that he might be a chef someday…at IHOP! Or a co-pilot. (Not so ready for all the responsibility given to the real pilot I guess!) With either career, maybe he can perfect a high-altitude recipe for pancakes.

For runners, as this website explains, the altitude requires other adjustments that your body – luckily – makes on its own after an adjustment period. Less available oxygen in the air forces your red blood cell count to increase to supply your muscles with more oxygen.

I do notice when we go to the beach, I feel like I can run forever and faster. Like my husband’s Bolder Boulder training t-shirt says: “Sea Level is for Sissies!” Ah – maybe we’re tougher runners, but low-landers are certainly better bakers!

Today was a day off from running for me, so I did the FIRM DVD “hard core fusion” … to justify eating a few more flat but tasty snickerdoodles!