Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Training for Hell: Frequently Asked Questions

"You're already well-acclimated to hell!"

That was what my co-worker said to me the other day. We were talking about going to the health club we joined. She goes there to do normal workouts and I go there for the sauna. That was after we were discussing whether either of us were material fit for salvation, after an attempt by someone to "convert" her.

I guess it's true that I am training for hell. Everyone tells me I'm crazy and I'm used to it, I take it as a compliment. They ask me how I manage to run all those miles and work full-time, doing 12-plus hour shifts, and fit it all in my life.

It takes some creativity to fit everything in. The thing I struggle with is eating enough when I don't have time to cook, and nurses are notoriously bad about taking breaks. Often we don't get a chance to eat lunch until late in the day, if at all. If we're lucky enough a vendor will come by with a big bowl of chocolate when they do an inservice on some new gadget.

I live on peanut butter and jelly. I make four sandwiches in the morning before work and I eat them throughout the day. If I'm lucky enough to take a real lunch break, I'll eat whatever I brought for lunch too. It's easy to hide out in a corner and scarf down a PBJ in 30 seconds when your hands are shaking from hypoglycemia.

Until last fall I didn't realize that my increased caloric needs extend into my work days, even after I feel recovered from training. I can eat a big breakfast before work and a PBJ at 7 am during report, then I need another PBJ by 9 am, and usually another one before I break for lunch. Then I usually have to eat the last one around 5:00 to make it through the end of the shift.

The other thing that I have to do is take easy weeks. Last week I did 100 miles but this week I'll be lucky to do 20. Every three to four weeks I cut back drastically on my mileage, spend more time in the sauna, and catch up on all the things in my life that I've neglected when I'm running 4 to 8 hours a day or more.

I went into a cooking frenzy since my run last week. I baked a carrot cake, made mango-pineapple and tomatillo salsa for the leftover tamales from Christmas, and today I'm off work so I'm making Vietnamese roasted chicken with dirty sticky rice. That's what happens when I don't run, all my energy explodes into some other creative outlet. I'd love to be painting but I can't sit still that long!

The other thing I get asked is, "Where do you get your energy?" It runs in the family. My dad is going on 67 and he runs too, but on a treadmill, and he works out with a personal trainer. Some weeks my dad runs more miles than I do. Every time we talk, he tells me about his workouts. I keep asking when he's going to run an ultra.

The thing about my dad is, he has TWO treadmills. I found this out recently in a casual conversation. I asked him why he needs two???!

He said, "So I don't wear one out."

It's not unusual for runners to have two pairs of running shoes at a time. They switch off to keep from wearing out one pair too fast. (Personally I don't do this, I just replace my shoes frequently, as often as every 3 weeks these days) But TWO TREADMILLS?

Do you see a pattern here? I can't help it, it's in the genes.


S. Baboo said...

I just found your blog because it was sent out with the Adventure Corps news letter. I am really looking forward to reading about your journey. I would like to be a credible applicant to Badwater but have a long way to go, which is as it should be.

Best of luck to you!

Smithposts said...

Look forward to following your quest to conquer Badwater. You are a real inspiration!