Friday, April 13, 2012

It's all over except the ....

Pick your favorite answer…Waiting; Running; Worrying; Excitement; Eating? Probably all of the above sometime over the course of this weekend.
But given the weather forecast there may be a lot more angst about temperatures than anything else. Most Boston Marathon runners trained through winter weather at temperatures less than half what forecasters are predicting for Monday. So it’s understandable that they would be concerned about how their body will hold up in such heat.

They have good reason to be concerned. Not only does heat siphon off valuable energy trying to keep the body cool but it can lead to serious injury if the body temperature is not kept under control. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and ultimately heatstroke can lead to permanent damage to organs.

So am I worried? I’d say just a wee bit concerned but mostly just pissed off at mother nature. At my age I have enough hurdles already dragging my well worn sorry butt 26 miles without having to worry about whether I’m getting enough fluids and electrolytes or what my core body temperature might be. To add to the challenge, the Boston Marathon lowered the qualifying times you have to run to get in next year. I was already challenged to run fast enough to get under the new lower qualifying time for my age group so the heat may very well put it out of reach.

Worried about making it without melting my brain or losing body parts? No, I’ve done this before and while I was a lot younger at the time the following basic rules still apply:

- Go out slow. Comfortable is much more important than speed. Once you get in trouble with the heat it is really hard to recover.

- Drink at every water stop. Even if it is only a half cup it is important to continuously put water in the radiator.

- Drink some Gatorade….or something that can replace your electrolytes (salt works but downing salt packets is pretty nasty).

- If you are offered ice, take it. Even if you just hold it in your hand while it melts it will help lower your body temperature. I dropped some in my shorts one year resulting in an unusual running stride for the next quarter mile.

- Be careful of energy Gels and Goo. Many have caffeine in them which can take fluids out of your system. I watched this happen to a woman I was running a marathon with and she ended up in a medical tent at 20 miles with the doctors pouring salt packets in her mouth (that’s how I know it’s nasty).

- Watch for signs you are not getting enough fluids or are in trouble. First signs may be nauseous or cramps. At a marathon I ran in the fall it was around 70 degrees but humid. In the last 4 miles I got cramps in places I didn’t even know I had muscles.

- Sweating is your body’s air conditioner. It’s a good thing and trust me, no one out there will be offended.

Finally, to all my marathon friends who be running Monday….RELAX. You are prepared and if you are careful about your fluids you will be fine. Worrying about it all weekend won’t change mother nature (although a few prayers might help).

On the bright side, great weather brings out more spectators. And worst case, if I keel over there will be plenty of people around to help me out.

Speaking of support, thanks to everyone who sent along their well wishes and donations. Both are greatly appreciated and hopefully you have enjoyed riding along with me through the blog over the last couple of months. If all goes well I’ll take you for one more trip after it is all over.

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