Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ice, Ice Baby

Long time, no post. Life has been busy, busy, busy as it seems to get in ebbs and flows.

For the last two weeks, my long runs have edged over into double digits territory. On the weekend of Valentine's day, I ran nine miles through the rural roads and vineyards behind my house and felt pretty good when it was over, then loaded in the car to go to my parents' house. Last weekend, we were scheduled to be in Portland in the early afternoon for my nephew's first birthday party, and my plan was to again have my long run out of the way before heading over the river and through the Gorge.

Well, the best laid plans...

After getting up multiple times in the night, and then early in the morning for no aparrent reason, I did not feel at all like slipping into my tights and strapping on a fuel belt to gut out my first double digits run. I packed a bag of running clothes so that if it looked like we wouldn't head out in time to get home and run on Sunday, I could just do my run in Forest Park. 

Birthday cake eaten, Happy Birthday sung, then it was off to an adult celebration of my bestie's fortieth with Italian food that would make you wanna slap your mama. I wasn't tempted to imbibe all the luscious wine that went along with it since I'd offered to drive she and her husband, so the next morning found me feeling pretty fine. We decided to head 'em up and move 'em out early, so I prepped the car and we were on our way. 

After deciding at Wendy's that a chicken sandwich (and french fries) would be just as easy to digest as a salad (Ha! right?) we had lunch down and two hours of travel left to go. About an hour from our house, I was snoozing when my husband commented that something was going wrong with the car...what?!

He pulled over to a car that acted like it was running out of gas, except that it wasn't. Awesome, trapped in nowheresville with two kiddos in the driveway of La Fundito Mexican Restaurant...for almost an hour. Sadly, all I could think was 'Why in the hell didn't I do my run before we left?!'

After calling our insurance and car companies it became clear that if we needed towed, it would be on our own dime, so my MacGuyver set to figuring out the problem. At one point, I thought he was going to blow us all up as our car shook like chitty-chitty-bang-bang when he tried to start it and leave it running spluttering long enough to look under the hood. 

The final verdict? In my slumber I'd 'accidentally' jammed my foot up under the jockey box and tripped the emergency fuel shut-off valve. Oopsie!....and we were off like a dirty shirt. 

As soon as we rolled in the driveway, I jammed dirty clothes in the washing machine, then got on my gear and headed out. It was now or never. It went, I got done, and with just an eek of daylight left...and that's about all I can say about that. 

For the next several weeks, I'll be doing my long run on Thursdays and my tempo on the weekend because it just works out better. For the next weeks it will be fine, but this week left me with just four days in between long runs. With my Bonnydale build, it was already destined that I'd be sore. 

One of the things I have come to love about running alone is that I have all this time to let my mind wander...sometimes it's not such a good thing. About mile 6, I had let my head go to the 'I haven't really found my place here yet, and don't really have a lot of friends' place which left me physically biting back tears and walking at the corner where I turn just near my son's school. Pull. Yourself. Together! I stopped, drank some water, ate a couple honey stingers and gave myself a little pep talk. I gave Pam the go-ahead and I actually felt a little spring in my step as I jaunted past the cemetery and neared the park. I glanced down to see what my pace was looking like now and thought something looked odd. Apparently, I wasn't clear in my intention to get going again, because my watch was still stopped. Awesome, over a quarter mile not recorded. Really not a big deal, right? Oh, but everything was a big deal on this run.

Long story short, I finished. Tight calves, woe is me, but I finished. I walked through the front door and as J asked how it went, I burst into tears and felt like a big, sweaty, emotional baby as I wailed 'This run was haaaaard. I was sloooooow and my calves huuuuuuurrrrrrt.' He was very kind and just reminded me that in training for a marathon there are going to be aches and pains, and there are going to be set backs.

Just then, the lure of losing my ice bath cherry sounded divine. I called upon the advice from my dear mama friend, Maggie, about how she structures hers. I peeled off my sweaty tights, put on my Oceanside shorts from Athleta, so my naughty bits wouldn't get too stunned, and filled my tub with cold water. Only cold water. Now, we're talking only enough water to cover your thighs when you're sitting down. No vital organs will be submerged which seems to help a lot in the shock factor. Frankly, though, my feet and legs were so hot and tired, that it just felt phenomenal when I slid them under the icy water.

I still had on my short and long-sleeved shirts, and had turned the TV in my bedroom onto DIY so I'd be entertained. Once I got settled in the tub, I added all of the ice from my freezer's ice-maker bin (or you could buy a small bag from the store) and laid my head against a folded towel on the edge of the tub. It was bliss. After about 20 minutes (which seemed to go kind of slowly, to be honest and not have you think it was all sunshine and fairies), I drained the water and slowly got up, shaking out my legs. My tub and shower are separate, so I switched over and got under a steamy spray, where I stayed until I felt human again.

Maggie also adds a warm drink into the mix while she's sitting in the tub which I would do if I'd been in the proper frame of mind, and my friend Erin has a warm towel from the dryer on hand. I have to say, had I not had the emotions of a four year-old, I would most likely have not tried the ice bath. I never tried it during the training for my half-marathons and I was fine. However, after rolling out of bed on Friday morning to find that I was not stiff, I am a convert. I now add to my list of faithful healing companions of 800 mg of ibuprofen, a packet of emergency and an early bedtime, an ice bath after a long run.

So there you have it. Do you have any tricks to make your ice bath more enjoyable? Or, are you one of the many out there who've yet to try? Hope this helps give you the nudge to take the plunge because it was oh-so-worth it.

My son H and I at Muffins with Mom at his school this week. Life doesn't pause just because you've got a marathon to train for :)


  1. LOVED this post. My training has been stalled this week because I'm pretty sure I pulled my hamstring...I want to get back to it next week (probably just repeat this past week's training regime) but I'm afraid I'll be sore...I just might be blogging about my very own first-ever ice bath! It doesn't sound too awful...although I am totally with Maggie, and will have a warm latte or mug of hot chocolate in my hand if I attempt it. Good for you for edging over in to the double-digit runs! Go Sara!

  2. I love that picture of you and H. What a perfect title for your post too - it made me laugh.

  3. Great post!! You really captured the emotions of your run and brought tears to my eyes ...probably because I've been there too! You are a wonderful example to your boys and J is right, sometimes there are setbacks. But what is the setback about finishimg a long run? You finished!! You're inspiring, I might even try the ice bath someday :)