Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thrill in the Hills ~ Half-Marathon ~ Race Review (And a splurge on diet)

Note from the author: I procrastinated a bit on writing this race recap, so some details may be unintentionally lost, but bare with me and I'll do the best I can.

Thrill in the Hills ~ Half-Marathon ~ Race Review

I didn't sign up to run this until Wednesday, although, it had been on the calendar for months, but with such a poor running performance the past two weeks any thoughts of racing were pretty much washed away like 'castles made of sand slips into the sea, eventually' (Yes, a Jimi Hendrix reference). I just didn't have the willingness to pound out a half-marathon. And this is where surrounding yourself by other runners, especially other runners you routinely run with, pay off. Robert sent me an email and in less than 10 minutes had me ready to run. I just needed some accountability and my teammate pulled through. The plan was to combine our scheduled 20 mile run and the half marathon: 3.5 mile Warm-up, 13.1 mile Tempo, 3.5 mile Cool-down.

Off to the race.

As we finished our light footed and light hearted morning warm-up I noticed one thing, my stomach did not appreciate my Friday diet. Rule number one for any veteran runner/racer: Don't change your diet drastically, if at all, before a race. Rule broken. I scarfed down, not one, but two Chik-Fil-A sandwich's Friday for lunch and now I was going to pay for the poor choice.

Scroll to the bottom, or read everything in-between to get to my thoughts on diet.

Fifteen minutes prior to the race I found myself standing, along with at least fifty other runners, in a line for the toilet. Five minutes, literally, before the race I closed the door behind me, ran off to find the starting line and thought, "it's going to be a long run."

Robert and I decided to start mid-pack, just because this is a "C" race, not an "A" race. If you race too hard before your goal race, you run the risk of burning out. I know this all too well. Just look at my last two weeks of running. In the end, this move paid off well.

The first four to five miles were made up of single track, long lines, and overzealous runners skirting past on the thorn ridden shores of the forest. Not me. I knew, just from race experience that most of these people were going out way too fast for their capabilities and were sure to slow down. There's a lot of fun when you force yourself to slow down in a race. It's almost as if you see the future. You know from the start who's going to drop off the back end and who is running within their means. I'd say that all but one person that passed us (Robert and I ran together for at least the first seven miles) in the first four miles we caught up to by the end. The pace was manageable, nothing breaking 8:00 min/mi. pace.

By mile six, the single-track was shredded from an endless line of runners to groups of three or four runners that went out way too fast and were now paying for it, and getting passed by us. Getting passed in a race, during the later miles, can be detrimental to the psyche. Another reason to run within your means.

The ballot was cast and Robert and I began our tempo, clocking the next miles from 7:30 min/mi. to 7:00 min/mi. pace. Somewhere between seven and thirteen a gapped was formed between us, but nothing noteworthy. We both ran according to plan and finished the day up with a three mile cool-down that hurt like hell. Stopping completely and starting up again with twenty minutes, blah.

My finishing time: 01:35:14, not too shabby for goofing off the first five miles.

Overall the race was a success and has shed some new light on the remaining seven weeks of training. I'm going to slow things down for the next week, so that I can fully get out of this funk, but having a teammate by my side is what really has me going full-force, again.


My diet mainly consists of vegetables, fruit, water, and beer. Mostly rice in different forms, noodles, milk, etc. And the beer enjoyed, but not imbibed. The fruit, for now, is a bit out of season. And the water, an obvious necessity. I try to eat meat once a week, totaling four to five meals a month, but I keep it to a minimum. Mainly because I don't think meat is bad for anyone, any food for that matter, but I think the amount of overall consumption of meat in America (every meal, excluding snacks) is directly related to the sheer obesity and health problems. The main benefit, for me, with this diet: low body fat composition. And, yes, I always get two questions: What about protein? What about iron?

Your body cannot absorb all the protein it takes in. Is protein important? Yes. Is too much bad for your health? Yes. If you eat a healthy amount is that a good thing? Yes. What are good, non-meat, sources?Protein can be found, in high amounts, in many different vegetables, although I suppose the legume family takes the cake. And something important for me to note, is that, vegetable protein content is inferior to that found in meat fat, concerning absorbing the actual protein in the body, so it's important to combine high-protein vegetables with each other, and I also believe it's important to have some (one to two meals a week, not a day, a week) meat, preferably lean meat, in your diet.
Here are some high-protein vegetables (One cup):

soybeans (29 g of protein) lentils (18 g of protein) black beans (15 g of protein)
kidney beans (13 g of protein) chickpeas (12 g of protein) pinto beans (12 g of protein)
black-eyed peas (11 g of protein) peas (9 g of protein) spinach (5 g of protein)
broccoli (4 g of protein)

Aren't you anemic? No. Is there iron in vegetables? Yes.
I agree, that iron deficiency is a growing problem, and among anything young women and children are especially prone and should always take a good look at their diets to help avoid anemia. On that note, and off to a brief nutritional science lesson.
Iron is found in two forms, heme (meats) and non-heme (vegetables). Iron is a fundamental part of hemoglobin, the substance that carries oxygen through the blood. And we can all agree that oxygen is pretty important. The two forms of iron are very similar in concept to the difference in meat and vegetable protein. Meat iron, or heme iron, is much more easily absorbed than non-heme. What does this mean? The same thing it does for protein, combine high-non-heme iron foods, and eat meat sparingly (one to two meals a week, not a day, a week) Vegans, someone that only consumes vegetables and fruits, do not have a higher occurrence of anemia than the Carnivores. (Obeid R, Geisel J, Schorr H, et al. The impact of vegetarianism on some haematological parameters. Eur J Haematol. 2002;69:275-9.)

Here's a list/comparison of "high" iron foods (heme vs. non-heme)

Food, cooked & Iron content

  Non-heme                            Heme
spinach15.7 mghamburger1.2 mg
collard greens3.1 mgsirloin steak0.9 mg
lentis3.9 mgchicken breast0.6 mg
broccoli1.9 mgpork0.4 mg

The bottom line, food isn't bad. Quantity should determine value. High fat diet, equals high body fat, Low fat diet, equals low body fat.
I understand we didn't talk about fat, or carbs, or amino acids, but that can be for another post, if enough people ask.