I just got a box of Honey Stinger Waffles (http://www.honeystinger.com/) after trying one a few weeks back and having it give me noticeable energy near the end of a long run and after reading a glowing review from http://www.runningandrambling.com/. This past Sunday was my first shot with them. They’re only 160 calories so since I go through about 1,000 calories an hour at my weight and speed, and since I tend to shy away from sports drinks during runs, these smaller, easier to eat guys were preferable to my normal routine of half a clif bar every 3.5 miles. Before the run I had a Gatorade G series Prime, per usual on runs over 10 miles and I packed 5 waffles. 1 every 4 miles and 1 right after I finished as a recovery snack.
Needless to say things didn’t quite work out. They never do, it seems. After about 9 miles and 2 waffles, I could feel my calves micro-cramping. I typically like to run without calf sleeves, but as I cramped up pretty bad during long run #8 I figured I could use the compression, so I was wearing them. Micro-cramping is a word I made up, I think, just now, so if it’s already a word and I’m using it wrong then I’m probably looking like a real asshole, but for the purposes of this blog micro-cramping is that little twinge in your muscle that you always ignore, because it’s nothing, but then a few miles later it’s a full on cramp. So I had those in my calves after about 3 miles of running through some Achilles soreness, so I attributed it to that and kept going.
I ran the last 6.2 miles of the LA Marathon first, then continued south along the boardwalk to Ocean Park before turning around at about 10 miles. At the turn around I was dying. I thought it was the heat and sunlight so I stopped at a drinking fountain and filled up both of my bottles before continuing on. The last sub 10 minute mile I ran was mile 9. The last sub 10:30 I ran was mile 10. I typically cruise around 9 minutes per mile, so this should be an indication of my struggles. As I left the shore behind me, clouds started to thicken and at least I got a respite from the sun exposure.
But it didn’t help. By mile 13 I was shuffling. Not on purpose as I was zoned out in my brain, but instinctually. This was distressing, as I do this from time to time and when I notice I usually think “no. go harder” and then do, but this time I thought “no. go harder” and didn’t. At this point, short of life and death situations, 11:10 min/mile was my top speed. I hoped to catch every single red light I could so I had an excuse to walk a few steps. I ate my 5th waffle. Nothing seemed to stop the cramp tsunami and when it hit I was a mile from home, holding myself up on a tree branch while my hamstrings sang pain chorus, and to boot, thanks to my new kettle bell, my traps and biceps were well on their way to the same concert.
I lowered myself back onto my legs and they took the weight. At this point I hurt more than after a marathon and I was 10 miles short of that, but I still had 1 to go. I started walking, but knowing the Giants game would be starting soon and remembering the tri tip I had to marinate for halftime, I started power walking, then shuffling, then – more shuffling. Shuffling was all I could muster at this point. I was sprinting and 14:09 later I was home, pulling myself up the stairs and running the water for an ice bath.
I figured I was in better shape than the performance suggested so I decided to check the nutrition info on my in-run snack. 55mg of sodium and 0 potassium. It said it right there on the label. I was not misled. In fact I wasn’t led at all, as leading would imply thought beyond caloric load. Another lesson learned for Forrest Dump. Now I just have to figure how much sodium and potassium I need and how to get it and I’ll be fine. And. I figured that paragraph could use another “and,” so that’s how I learned what Ice-T has been telling me since surviving the game in ’94. “Always check the barrel!” or in this case, the label.