Monday, August 26, 2019

Running with your own Sherpa


 

Have you ever had the luxury of running with a sherpa?

A sherpa, in the most basic sense, is someone who is along for the ride (or run), with the sole purpose of supporting someone else. A lot of endurance athletes (for example: runners who do ultra races that encompass double-digit hours on their feet) have a support crew to assist them throughout their event.

In my case, I was the runner (embarking on a long run in a strange place) and my hubby was my sherpa (carrying some of my gear, keeping me company and acting as a tour guide), via his bike.

Sounds like a perfect scenario, doesn't it?

Here's how everything played out....

First, let me set the scene:
As most know, I'm training for the Marine Corps Marathon (October 27, Washington, DC). Training for a marathon involves many (if not most) weekends with a double-digit distance run on tap. That's all well and good, until the hubby gets invited to a friend's place for a weekend on the lake, and he wants to bring his wife (ME!) along.

Ummm....what about that 12-mile run I'd planned to do on Saturday morning? How was that gonna work in a strange place, where I had no clue where to run or any sense of direction?

The solution? The hubby reminded me we'd have our bikes with us (since we'd hoped to be going for a ride anyways), and he'd ride along with me as I ran. He actually grew up near the area, and his family vacationed there numerous times when he was a child. He was already fairly familiar with the streets and trails around the lake, so I wouldn't be alone. Problem solved!
Our adventure took us partially around Lake Okoboji (in northwest Iowa)
Alas, he would be my very own sherpa!

Having the hubby along (with ample pockets on his shorts) meant I wouldn't have to carry any of my stuff...water, fuel, tissues, or even my phone. Everything was either on him, or stashed somewhere on the bike itself.

We set out just after 6:00 a.m., so there already was plenty of daylight. We went less than half a mile on a bike lane (along a county road) before turning onto a trail that took us through a wooded area. A short while later, we were within the city limits (but still on the bike trail).

The trail and (later) the neighborhood streets along the lake were hilly. The hills weren't especially steep, but they were constant. The area reminded me of last October's Cannonball Marathon (Greensboro, NC) because there was very little flatland to peruse, but numerous trees and plenty of shade. Unlike Greensboro, though, there were all kinds of interesting lake houses to admire on this route.
There is a Lake Shore Drive in Iowa!
I had my Garmin to gauge the distance, so I'd know when we'd reach the 6-mile mark (and then could turn around and head back). Every couple miles, he'd hand me the water bottle. Just before the turn-around, I took a few Honey Stinger chews. Everything went smoothly.

Originally, I thought it would be easiest for the hubby to ride a ways ahead of me, then circle back periodically. Instead, he pretty much rode beside me (or slightly ahead), only veering further ahead from me on some of the bigger hills. Thus, the hills were a challenge for BOTH us...myself on foot, and him riding slowly up and down each incline/decline.

Fortunately, the weather worked in our favor. The air wasn't too humid and the low/mid 60F's temps were cool, but comfortable. I hadn't felt it on the way out, but there was a slight head wind on the return trip.

Over all, this was a successful venture!

Some key points to consider, should you have the option for a sherpa:
***Find a willing participant, and agree on your route/pacing strategy. Riding slowly is not exactly fun or easy, especially on a hilly route.

*** Having someone help you with your fueling is a luxury. A unique circumstance for me right now is my Invisalign treatment. Anything other than plain water (for hydration) is a cavity risk (unless I want to brush/floss after each drink). Also, chewy and sticky foods are difficult to eat (because my teeth are shifting). The hubby was a huge help in biting the HS chews into fourths, so I could then swallow them without needing to chew them myself. I know (#eew)...that is not something I'd want just anybody to do for me, but it's my reality for the time being (usually I cut the chews into fourths before my runs, but didn't need to since the hubby was my "chew cutter" LOL).

***Being able to run "hands free" was nice! I didn't have to carry my water bottle, nor did I need a fuel belt for my phone (of course, that also meant my phone's pedometer didn't give me credit for those 12 miles on foot LOL).

***I didn't have to navigate my whereabouts. It was nice having someone already familiar with the area acting as my tour guide, and also keeping me company.

***I actually ran those 12 miles a bit faster than I'd realized. It didn't seem like I was going faster than usual, but probably faster than ideal for a long run. I do train on hills frequently, so maybe my body is better prepared for hills than I give it credit for. Having a bike to follow may have been a factor as well.

***Another advantage to having someone else along with you is you don't have to rely on your selfie skills for every photo. That's especially advantageous when you come upon interesting street art or an occasional mural.


So, what ya say? Ever done a long run (or an endurance race) with a sherpa? Have you ever had that option? Do you think it would be a great way to train, or would it mess with your "ideal" pace?

I'm linking this with Kim and Zenaida for the Tuesday Topics Link-Up

**I'm also linking this with Debbie and Marc  for the Running Coaches' Corner

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30 comments:

  1. This is so cool and useful! I didn't realise you had invisalign, that must be really tricky. I read a scary article about how athletes and footballers had worse teeth even though they had better dental hygiene than the general population - to do with a dry mouth from having it open gasping in air and the sugary snacks. Eeps! I have a really dry mouth due to my new anxiety medication at the moment (disucssible on other people's blogs, not mine!) so am sucking on no-sugar sweets and hoping. Anyway, this is all super-useful. I've not done that, the nearest I've got is setting up a fuelling station in my recycling bin and circling back for supplies, much to the amusement of my (now sadly late) next door neighbour!

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    1. I had not thought of the dry mouth aspect, but YIKES, that affects most of us. When I do the actual marathon, I'll probably have to have some Gatorade in the final miles, but for a short time span it's not a huge deal. SO far, the HS chews (broken up LOL) have worked well.

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  2. while I have not had a sherpa for running, I do remember trying to ride slowly with my kids. It's not easy! You kind of feel like you are going to fall over at times. Very sweet of him to do this for you

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    1. I know! I told him to ride ahead and swing back (as it was convenient), but he pretty much hung with me. It was liberating to not have to think about anything (regarding water, fuel, etc.) because he had all of it.

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  3. I used to have a sherpa - my hubby, who would ride his bike along with me as I ran. Then he started running, became my running partner, and I lost having my deluxe sherpa to carry water and food for me on my long runs! :)

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    1. I could really get spoiled if this happened again.....

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  4. I wish I had a sherpa for running! It's so sweet of our hubby to do this and it shows how much he supports your marathon training. He's a keeper for sure :)

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    1. Thanks, Kim ;-) He supports me well, but when he flat out said he would "just ride along with me," it was nice!

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  5. I've never had a sherpa and now I want one too. How sweet of your husband to be there for you.

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    1. It was nice! I doubt he'll be eager to do it for all the remaining long runs on the schedule...a lot of those start at 5:00 in the morning, and he's not too functional at that hour.

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  6. Although I call my husband my sherpa for races, that's not in the actual race. He doesn't run & he doesn't bike. Although I'm always really glad for his help. :)

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    1. It's great to have a support system, no matter what capacity ;-)

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  7. I've tried to get my husband to ride along side me on my long runs but so far it's been a no go. :-/
    I love that he pre-bit your chews for you. At least he didn't pre-chew them and spit them in you mouth like a baby bird. LOL I thought you could remove the Invisalign for an hour or two. No?

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    1. Ha ha...no pre-chewing ;-) Yes, I can take the Invisalign out periodically (for meals, etc.), but I'm supposed to have it in position for 22 hours/day. Obviously, if it's only in for 21 hours some days, it's not a crisis. I just prefer to only have it out for actual meals because I need to brush/floss before putting it back in. Thankfully, it's only a short-term thing ;-)

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  8. I love that you have a personal sherpa sometimes when you run! This must make your runs much more fun!

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    1. This was the first time, and I really could get used to it LOL

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  9. You are lucky to have a sherpa.
    Many years ago (more or less 25) my son (now 40) was my sherpa following me on the long runs with his bike. Advantages: not to run solo, being hands free and possibility to try new routes.

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    1. It was great to have the hands free from clutter! Usually I'm holding something (depending on the distance), so this was a nice reprieve.

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  10. This sounds like so much fun! I wish my husband would ride (or run!) with me. But we have two young ones so it's not always possible. Although we did get some trails in together earlier this summer. That was fun.

    Great job on that run!!

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    1. Thanks, Rachel ;-) Yes, with young kids it isn't always possible for the both of you to get out together...been there, done that. Cherish that time with your little ones, it goes WAY TOO FAST ;-)

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  11. Your husband is a good sport! It is hard to ride slowly like that. It would be nice to have a sherpa but my hubby usually runs with me. I have had a sag wag on a long bike ride. My hubby and I were riding a century and a friend in a car, was there to fill our liquids and fuel us.

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    1. He was a great sport! I didn't expect him to ride so slowly (and stay with me), but it was much appreciated.

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  12. My son runs with his wife riding by his side on her bike. There is no way I would ever be able to keep up!

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    1. I think that's why my pace was a little faster than it should have been...I was subconsciously trying to keep up with him. We had great weather, so the effort wasn't too strenuous.

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  13. I need a Sherpa for just life. But seriously very cool and wishing you good luck for your Marine Corp Marathon. Way to go Hubby for helping a runner out!

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  14. Nice! Really cool that hubby got in 12 miles with you. My wife made it 400 meters on the bike before she gave up on me :(
    I have a runner who's doing MCM; good luck!

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  15. Love this! I used to run with a friend on a bike back when I was doing my long runs for marathon training. It was great having backup to carry extra stuff. I've also done runs with my son on his bike, but that usually ends up as me being the sherpa for him. #momlife, right?

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