Recovery. It's the most important part of a race. For me recovering from a 20, 30, 50 mile run doesn't take very long. Maybe a day of rest and listening to my body and then I can jump back up and start running again. However the Susitna 100 was a different story for me. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, the snow , or the sled. Whatever it was I just couldn't seem to come back. A week went by and I was still limping around. I was struggling to sleep without my legs being restless. I was depleted and no matter what I did I couldn't seem to come back. Icing, stretching, slow walks with lopi. I must have slept in two hour increments for days on end. The worst part was I could never make it through an entire night of sleep.
Corbin was concerned and kept making suggestions that my diet wasn't right. His solution was that I should start eating meat. I didn't agree, but I had a feeling my less then stellar diet might have something to do with it.
So I turned to Skratch Labs again. I was determined to take control of my diet. I wanted to run and feel strong. Karen, Lourdes, Tim, Lester... Everyone was running again. I wanted to run too!
I searched the internet and found solace in a few articles like this one that made it seem like your first 100 was always the hardest and longest to recover from. A couple others suggested 6 weeks until you were completely recovered. That felt like an eternity.
So here I was resting in Boulder for work just a week after Alaska. I was still not sleeping and things seemed to be getting worse. My chest started to feel tight and my heart seems to beat faster then I remembered. The truth of the matter is my body lost a lot of blood after finishing the Susitna 100 (a detail I left out of my race report). I believe mostly from stress. I've always kind of teetered on the anemic side since being a vegetarian for 9 years but the extra blood loss I think pushed me over. I thought back to my friends Tom and Theresa and the story they told me about the weird things anemia made there bodies do. Tom is a long long time vegetarian and swore by some iron pills that allowed for easy absorption.
So step one was to turn my diet around with help from Skratch Labs and step two was to start taking those iron pills I'd been neglecting. Baskets full of veggies with extra beets for beet juice and a bottle of iron pills. I was going to get to the bottom of this.
I was in Boulder for the time so I decided to stop by the Skratch Labs office. I met with a few of the awesome people behind the business and talked training, nutrition, and recovery. The knowledge and experience they have with this kind of things is something I can only hope to skratch the surface of (pun intended). They tipped me off on a few things, first there Raspberry daily electrolyte mix actually has iron in it naturally from the raspberries so it will be an easy way for me to maintain the iron levels after I bring them back up with the pills. Second the sad reality is that unless you know your body really well and are a diligent vegetarian it's super hard to be a high performing endurance athlete without eating a little meat. It sucked to hear but after reading the introduction to the FeedZone cookbook when they talk about vegetarian cyclist David Zabriskie I kind of had a feeling that was the case. And as much as I think I’m good about my diet… I’m no Scott Jurek or anywhere close to that. I live in a van. Most my meals are centered around nut butters and eggs. Which is apparently not what my body needed after the Susitna 100. Last they warned me of the terrors of over training and how hard it is to recover from the constant fatigue. Right now though I was just concerned with getting running again not even training!
I left Boulder feeling like I had a plan of attack until a series of unfortunate events happened in the airport and I cried for a bit. Anyways back to recovery. The terrible airport experience made me want Yosemite because Yosemite is where you go for answers and where you go to heal. I picked up a prenatal vitamin because they have a huge amount of Iron in them and it’s also what the doctor suggested. This was my third week of recovery and I was spending it in Yosemite. I drank water from the springs, laid in the sun, climbed a lot, and finally slept. I slept every night like a baby. I was worked and after leaving Yosemite realized some of that fatigue was linked to an impending cold. So the next week I spent laid up in Tahoe sick as a dog. At this point I’m taking my prenatal vitamin along with an iron plus pill. Climbing a bit in the gym but mostly just working and sleeping. I had made up the tasty Scratch Labs beet juice recipe and had a glass everyday. I always noticed a big spike in my energy levels after a glass of beet juice.
About 28 days after I finished the Susitna 100 the weather in Tahoe finally cleared, my cold was gone, and I went for my first run. It was slow but I felt mentally and aerobically stronger than ever. However my legs felt like bricks. I didn’t seem to have the same turn over and my knees and hips got really tight giving me pain. I stretched and foam rolled right after I finished but still found myself limping around the next day. I’ve always been a really bendy person but for the first time ever I was sore from a 5 mile run. I couldn’t do all of the poses, but I went to yoga anyways. The weather turned back to snow in Tahoe and I cursed the cold. You can’t blame me for not wanting to run in the cold and snow for awhile. But I was eating better with no meat yet, taking the iron supplements, and planning to spend the next few weeks with short distances at a regular interval. All in all no better feeling then being able to run again.