I spent this past summer training with a talented group of veteran and novice marathoners at the Barrie Ontario Running Room. These runners became more inspirational to me than an uncorked bottle of valpolicella. Like the beloved wine I miss so much I began feeling a bit dependant on the group, especially on long runs. The longer the Sunday runs got, the more I appreciated the calming effect the proximity of the others gave me. At times, there were no other runners in sight; however I knew I wasn’t alone.
As the kilometers increased, I would drop farther off the lead group’s 5:15-5:30/km pace, but kept ahead of the group keeping a 6 minute/km pace. There were days that I was able to keep the 5:30 pace for 12-14k thanks to the pacing of the lead group. I found that settling in near the back of the lead group gave me the chance to eavesdrop on some really great marathon stories. Most of the stories had a moral which clearly outlined some “what and what not to do’s”. Some of the advice included steering clear of a big bender the night before a 26km training run. This seemed sensible to me, as I was suffering enough without the added hangover effect. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that if I had not quit drinking, that would probably be the way I would operate. With the temperatures that this summer produced I didn’t need the side effects of alcohol to be seen doubled over and retching in a bush, or staggering towards home, the combination of heat and dehydration took care of that. I am definitely familiar with dehydration and retching after drinking too many spirits, the night before.
Further eaves dropping revealed how important it is to carefully consider your nutrition when running longer. This is an area that I have some interest in. I am currently 1 course and exam away from earning an Advanced Nutrition Diploma specializing in Sports Nutrition, so I am familiar with and specializing in this very finicky subject. When I was in treatment, it was suggested (over and over again), as an alcohol addict, to increase my chances of remaining sober, “all I had to change was everything”…pretty “staggering”. I have taken that advice where possible. Part of the plan of change for me included focusing on a new area of work. Using my background in healthcare as a springboard, my goal is to work in Sports Nutrition consulting. My passion for running and fueling my body for the best results possible were the catalysts for this change. I have spent too many years spending too many empty calories on drinking booze and binging on crap while drunk. Running and canning the beer habit has yielded me a 40lbs weight loss. So, when I heard the wisdom of the marathoner who advised me not to be up late drinking beer and eating steak the night before a long run (as he had the night before), I will admit, a flash of envy struck me just prior to imagining what he was going through and being grateful it was him and not me.*
During the long runs, as the kilometers have pushed higher and higher, I have fallen off the 5:30 pace, usually being dropped on one of many gigantic hills that our leader, Roger, has us navigating. The first time this happened, I was disappointed in myself for not being able to keep up, and then I became kinder to myself, admitting that marathoning is new for me and I will develop over time. Being dropped and easing into the middle pacing of the group gave me the reassurance of runners in front and in back of me…it was like being hugged by a group of healthy, talented ambitious people, without the exchange of sweat. This kind of group support functions with the same concern, compassion and hope for the “long run” as a group of recovering addicts do. There are some days that you don’t believe you can make it, but you can be guaranteed others in the group will believe in you even when you can’t.
I will not be running 42.2k in October, with these gifted runners because I am injured and can’t get the training done. I will race 21.1k at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October instead. I am shooting for Hamilton’s Road to Hope race in November for my inaugural marathon event.
*I should mention I wouldn’t touch the steak anyway. Another of the big changes I have made in the last year with my nutrition is observing a vegan diet…and YES, I get enough protein.
- a healthier image