Doc’s Talk 12-02-2012

The purpose of today’s talk is to help you with the final week’s preparation, starting Sunday, December 02, 2012, and ending around 11 a.m. next Sunday, December 09, 2012.  This talk is as important for the experienced and faster runners as it is for the beginners and can make the difference between a problemed run and a successful marathon.

Interesting Stuff
This is a week of festivities and it really should be dedicated to you, so enjoy the week, walk around the tents, see what is going on. Meet other people.  If you come down to Waikiki and Kapiolani Park during the week you will see tons of Japanese running around the park.  Don’t be afraid to say hello to them.

In the old days of the Honolulu Marathon they used to print the finishers’ certificates to say, “John Jones, finished the Honolulu Marathon in 3 hours 13 minutes, finishing 18,000 overall, 300 in his age group,” but for some reason they have quit doing that.  You might ask the race administrators why at packet pick-up and write to them later. They are here to serve you, because without you they don’t have anything to do.  Including that kind of information on your finisher’s certificate doesn’t cost anything extra, it is common for most races, and since the computer can do it there is no reason they cannot go back to that.  Maybe they will this year, but for the past few years they have not offered this.  For the amount of money raised, that certificate format makes for a slightly better presentation when you go home.

Consider picking up souvenirs for your friends; the Honolulu Marathon Clinic has some, and it helps them offset the expense of running the Clinic.


Carbo-Loading Party
This Friday, December 07, 2012, is the 39th Carbo-Loading Party at Jack and Donna Scaff’s house.  Members of the Honolulu Marathon Clinic are invited and may bring a significant other, a child that is entered in the Marathon, and friends (including friends from out of town) who are also entered in the Marathon.  This is an adults-only event.

Time:            5:30 – 8:30 pm
Place:            2185 Round Top Dr.
Dress:            Very casual
A sumptuous buffet will include Smoked Turkey, Salads, Draft Beer & soft drinks. ‘Tho not required, feel free to bring your favorite pupu, salads, or desserts to add to our spread.

Entertainment by: “Rubber Soles” (The Beatles Group!)

For R.S.V.P. or questions, Please call:  955-4134

About the party:
– No parking near the Scaff’s home; shuttle service is provided so please park near the Makiki Pumping Station
– You are not required to tip the shuttle driver, he is being paid, but if you want to give him a tip that is fine.
Please kindly RSVP so the Scaffs can get a head-count of attendees.  RSVP:  955-4134
– There will be plenty of beer, so you don’t have to bring any beer unless you have a personal favorite you want to share.

Post-Marathon Tent
The Honolulu Marathon Clinic paid $1,000 to be part of a finisher’s tent that is shared with the Mid-Pacific Roadrunners.  It will be located between the tennis courts and the bandstand on the makai side of Kapiolani ParkIf you tell them that you are with the Honolulu Marathon Clinic the food is free, if you bring a guest they will be charged $10 – $15.  If you want a massage it will be  $10 – $15.  The tent is a great area to meet with your friends after the run, they will know where to come find you because this is a huge park and there will be 30,000 people down here.

We want to know if it is worth the expense to be part of this tent, so please let the tent administrators know you are with the Honolulu Marathon Clinic.  If nobody uses the tent, that money will be used for a different purpose next year.

Today we are going to do a depletion run.  You have been tapering by about 25% per week for the past 3 weeks.  In this final week before the marathon, most of you ought to be running 10 or 15 miles, and that is enough.  An important part of tapering is also depleting:  You are burning up carbohydrates.

In the past carbo-loading used to be de rigueur.  You would go on a diet of protein and fat until Thursday to deplete your carbohydrates and you would feel lousy, then you’d switch over to carbohydrates. Well, we found out you are carbo-depleting all the time and it takes about a week to recharge, so the protein phase is not quite important.

So, what is a carbohydrate?  A potato, rice, bread, pasta, a starch, …not lettuce, steak, or things like that.

For now, eat more or less a regular diet.  Then on Thursday, start switching over to carbohydrates like white bread with jam or jelly, or things like that.

Saturday:  No roughage or gas-producing foods!  That’s why you cut the outside of the bread off, because there’s fiber (roughage) in it.  You don’t want any fiber at all.  Constipation and marathon running do not co-exist, particularly on the day of the marathon.  And no matter how good the Honolulu Marathon Association is, they cannot provide enough port-a-potties for 30,000 runners half an hour before the race.  You should show up at the start ready to run.  You don’t want to be in one of those long lines.  Roughage will contribute to your need to have a bowel movement.

If you already have a problem such as lactose intolerance, start avoiding ice cream and cheese and all the dairy foods you have to be careful of.

But basically you don’t need to eat very much on Saturday, and shouldn’t have anything that might promote bowel movements, in fact, you want to be a little constipated.

Sleep goes in a 48-hour cycle.  You don’t have to sleep the night before the event.  How do we know that?  Studies done on Olympians, particularly on the East Germans (when East Germany existed) found that those who did not sleep the night before an athletic event did just as well as those who did.  So Friday night is the important night to get a good night’s sleep.  If you are at the Carbo-Loading party, sleep in the next day.  If you can’t sleep the night before the Marathon, then get up and do good things, like get ready to run.

Marathon Day
You should be up by about 2 a.m.  Then have your coffee if you need coffee, do your ablutions (washing oneself for hygiene or ritual purification).  If you absolutely must eat it should be very lightYou don’t really need any food, but if you are going to eat a doughnut or something that should be at 2 a.m. so that everything has a chance to settle down, because if your stomach doesn’t empty, as you start running the course you will start vomiting.  So you want an empty stomach but you don’t want to be dehydrated, so you’ve got to put this all together.  But there should be NO food and NO liquids after 3:30 or 4 a.m.  Before you leave home you empty your bladder, because after you have gone 20 – 30 minutes in the marathon your kidneys shut down, that is what they are supposed to do; you don’t make any more urine.  So if you have to stop for the restroom between miles 1 and 6 that is bladder sweat, urine that was there already.  So you want to be empty.

If the port-a-potties are full there are trees, and other things, just watch out for people squatting in the bushes.  It is fair for men to use the ladies room, and more important for women to use the men’s room because there never seems to be enough space available, so don’t be afraid of that.

Many of you will probably take the bus from Kapiolani Park down to the start of the race.  Otherwise you get somebody to drop you off on Kapiolani Boulevard and you walk over.  There is no parking anywhere near Kapiolani Park, so don’t even think about it.  Have somebody drop you off and be prepared to have them pick you up after the race.

If you go all the way up to the Diamond Head Theater there might be parking there, but then it’s a mile walk to the park and the busses, and why would you do that?

The Well-Dressed Runner – What to Wear?
–  No new clothing on the day of the race.  You have already run in your shoes, shirt, hat, etc.

Have your shirt say something.  This is your moment of glory, put your name on it, or the company you are running for, or the Honolulu Marathon Clinic.  But what happens if wearing your Honolulu Marathon Clinic shirt you get injured? Take it off!  Wear it only when you are upright. [humor!]

The shirt, if it is one of the sweat-wicking singlets, will actually make you cooler as you are running.  A bare-chested runner absorbs heat from the sun.  A light colored shirt is better than a dark-colored one.  The sweat-wicking singlet will absorb the sweat, let air circulate, and lets the moisture evaporate.  Evaporation is 500 times as efficient at cooling you as sweat that falls on the ground.  Every drop of sweat that falls on the ground is a drop of precious bodily fluids lost forever, so you want the sweat to be soaked up in the shirt.

During the carbo-loading phase some of you will gain a pound or 2.  That is good.  That means the carbohydrate is going into the muscle, being stored, and taking water with it.  Every gram of carbohydrate takes 2 grams of water with it into the muscle.  This may make you feel loughy, slower, but that water comes back out and can be used for maintaining your sweating, and vascular volume.

Running numbers do not cause heat stroke.  You should wear it on your chest.  Now with the chip-timing it doesn’t make that much difference but it does for identification if you need help, or for your friends, or for the photographs.

For the beginning of the race to keep you warm and dry you can bring an old shirt or a garbage bag with armholes you cut into it so you can wear it like a shirtThrow these away at the start of the race in a place off to the side where no one else will trip on them.

Vaseline (or Glide, or Supergel, or etc.) is your friend.  You can’t use enough Vaseline on the day of the event.  Use it everywhere that you might chafe:

  Under the arm, under the bra line, around the nipples, in the groin, etc.
  Two ounces of Vaseline per foot, so much that you have to wash your shoes after the race.
–  Your feet:  Put Vaseline between your toes, on top of the feet, under the feet, all the way up your ankles to one inch above your sock.

So 2 ounces of Vaseline for your feet and you will have to wash your shoes afterwards.  Why does Dr. Scaff say this?  Have you ever run with wet shoes?  On the day of the race it might rain, you might get hit with a hose and your shoes may get soaked.  More importantly, we tend to run a little bit awkwardly because we’re up tight to begin with.

How can you tell the well-lubricated runner?  They keep sliding off the bus seat on the way down to the starting line.  [humor]

“Power” Pretzels
For your carbohydrates, we recommend you carry “power” pretzels
– simple, cheap, straight-shaped pretzels.  You can get about 100 in your fanny pack, they are pure starch, and they contain more salt than Gatorade or any of these other nutritional substances which really aren’t very good as compared to very simple products like pretzels.

How to Start
Bring a can of diet cola with caffeine in it.  Open it about 10 minutes before the start, and let it de-fizzAs the race starts, as you are walking and getting going, drink 3 to 6 ounces and discard the rest.  Why a diet cola?  Caffeine absent carbohydrates switches you into fat metabolism faster.  If you want to drink a Sprite or something like that that is ok, but you should not have any sugar-containing drinks at the beginning.  You want to switch over into that feel-good fat metabolism situation.

Do not drink water out of the sponges at the aid stations. You might have a reused sponge and you don’t know where it has been previously.

Don’t squeeze the sponge over your head or pour water over your head, it just runs down into your shoes.  If you want to put water over your head, you should bend over so the water runs off in front of you without washing off your Vaseline or making your shoes wet (you will get blisters).

How to Finish
The mistakes you make in the first 10 miles will haunt you in the last 6.  At the start you will be excited.  It will be dark, there is a fireworks display, police car lights start going, and the Japanese are very exciting to be around – Dr. Scaff thinks it is the most exciting Start in the United States – but this exciting start tends to take you along perhaps a little faster than you wanted

Remember, the day of the race you’ve done all of the training, but that is only 50% of the race, …40% is psychology, sticking to your game plan (that never varies), and then 10% is luck (you could be tripped by somebody, etc.), but it is all psychological the closer you get to the Starting Line.  Then stick to your game plan as you go out.  The first half of the race is slower than the second half.  It is better to finish with something left over.  First-timers say, “I could have done better.”  Of course!  That’s the good attitude.  You’ve already set a record, now you can work on it.  If you set your best ever time and never run as good again, what is that to talk about?  So you continue to improve.

Drink most of your liquids in the first 10 or 12 miles.  Ice can make fluids too cold, you can pour ice over your head, but remember that ingested fluids promote sweating or allow heat-exchange better than pouring it over your body, so drink first.

Walk at the aid stations.  Most of us can’t run and drink at the same time, we choke.  So that is a good time just to catch your breath and stick to your game plan.

Check your splits
If you are ahead of schedule on a split, stop, walk, force yourself to back off
.  Don’t worry.  If you do a 4 and a half hour marathon, you are in the middle of the pack.  That means there are 15,000 other people behind you, and you are going to pass 5 or 10 thousand on the way in.  But do offer encouragement to those you pass, say, “Looking good,” [humor!]  The point is to have fun out there.

Dr. Scaff does not expect anyone at the Honolulu Marathon Clinic to set an age-group record, that might occur, but he expects you to finish well in your group.

Less Water Towards the End
Dr. Scaff recommends that you stop drinking at the 22-mile mark
because by then you are shunting more blood to your legs, you are absorbing less, and you’ve all seen the runner who crosses the finish line and pukes up a quart of water – they quit absorbing it!  If you don’t get it in on time you won’t have it.  Dr. Scaff is not saying you should not drink after the 22-mile mark – you decide.  If it is a hot day and you are walking, of course you should drink, but just remember, what you do in the first 15 miles is going to determine the last 10.

At The 15-Mile Mark
Hold until you are at the 15-mile mark.  Then you do a body check: Red, amber, green light analogy.  Head:  Are you red or green?  Elbows?  Do your arms hurt?  Are your fingers starting to swell?  Are you developing cramps?  Are your legs going bad?

If everything is green you recheck at 18 miles.  If amber, hold your pace.  If red, start slowing down.

At 18 miles do a second check, the same as you did at the 15-mile mark.  If everything feels good, that’s when Dr. Scaff recommends you begin considering your sprint.

A sprint is 5 seconds per mile increase in speed.  If you pick up your pace by 2 minutes you will pass a bunch more people, because you will be surprised how crowded it is out there and how many start slowing down.

How do we finish?  Slow down, enjoy crossing the finish line in style.  Look good for the photographs.  Some runners say they were running so hard they can’t even remember crossing the finish.  Why would you want to do that, especially if this is your first marathon? …unless you are trying to set a record or really beat somebody.

There will be a false finish line (past the Dillingham Fountain) so they can take your picture.  As you approach, slow down and start looking good!  Tell everybody how well you did, get your pictures taken.  These photos will make for a nice memory if you acquire them.

As soon as you cross the finish line start drinking a cola-like beverage with sugar.  Even if you have to sit down.  The race staff will have some there, they know it is better than the Gatorade and everything else.  This starts getting you out of fat metabolism or lactic acid metabolism, then if you don’t feel good don’t be afraid to see the MASH tent, or sit down or lie down and drink on the side.  The fluids have to go in slowly or you will get sick again.

After this, you will be feeling fine, go to the tent, and enjoy.

Post-Marathon Picnic
The Honolulu Marathon Clinic meets 1 week after the Marathon for the post-race picnic for your bragging rights, but we also have a confessional so you can come up and tell Dr. Scaff what went wrong, and they will say, “Bless you my daughter/son.  Get a new pair of shoes, etc.”  [humor!]

Supporting the Honolulu Marathon Clinic
After the Marathon is a great time to make a donation to the Honolulu Marathon Clinic (through the Hawaii Sports Foundation).  We never charge anybody anything, except for $3 for each Bus Run and $1 for the two picnics we have each year.  So your total cost for being in the Honolulu Marathon Clinic is $8.  A lot of you probably get more benefit out of the Clinic than that.  Donations are strictly voluntary.

Next Year
Having competed your first marathon, you have graduated.  Then the Honolulu Marathon Clinic needs volunteers to become part of the Honolulu Marathon Clinic staff to help us with the new group in 2013.  Once you have competed a marathon (at any speed) you are eligible to become a volunteer staff member.

For more information, read “The Week Before the Marathon”, pages 56 – 62 in Your First Marathon – The Last Word In Long Distance Running, by Jack H. Scaff Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S.M., available for purchase at the Honolulu Marathon Clinic on Sundays and online at:

Have a great Honolulu Marathon, and look good at the finish!  ALOHA!!!

For some good reading on nutrition, Dr. Scaff recommends everyone check out the daily postings on Dr. Alan Titchenal’s “Got Nutrients?” web site:

Here are some recent postings:

November 28, 2012
Gastric bypass surgery can lead to remission of type 2 diabetes in some severely obese diabetic adults. However, within 5 years, diabetes returns in about one out of three people who experience remission.

Consumer Link
Gastric bypass surgery helps diabetes but doesn’t cure it

Research Link
Obes Surg. 2012 Nov 18. [Epub ahead of print]