At this point in my training, most of my long runs will be my longest distance run. Prior to this week, my longest run had been my half marathon in March. Facing 15 miles this week was scary even when I first glanced at the schedule months ago. Add in my recent long run failures, and I was freaking out a bit. My last long runs had been 9 last week (which I couldn’t finish due to the heat and some GI issues), 13 the week before (which I had to walk the last 1.5 of due to feet and GI issues, and I cried my eyes out over), and 12 before that (which was embarassingly awful). Add in that I am vacationing in Michigan, and I was scared.
I began the week with 2 on the treadmill and I was hurting and sad and dreading the 15. The day before I laced up and went out around my mother in law’s house for 3. Both of these runs I did in some new shoes because of my issue with my shoes in my 13. The shoes felt good, so I didn’t feel so awful. I love to run around my mother in law’s because it’s flat, rural, and scenic. I did my first 8 miles when I went to visit in the spring (the infamous “8 mile block”) and had a great run. I spent the evening before the run weighing my options. We all ended up deciding on a run that took me from our hotel to her house, along some not-so-busy roads. My route had little turns and was easy to remember, which is essential if I am to not get lost.
Miles 1-4 were great. It took me to mile 3 for my breathing and heart rate to slow to my relaxed pace, but they flew by. I highly recommend early morning miles. My friend Liz calls it zombie running because you’re not really awake yet, and you sort of trick your body. By the time I am cranky I’m well on my way. I am usually running 1 hour after waking up. This brings up an interesting point: how I fuel in the morning. I am hypothyroid, and I have to take my medication in the morning on an empty stomach, and then can’t eat for 20 minutes. This makes morning running tricky, but if I wake up and immediately take my pill, then I can eat in 20 minutes and then wait 30 then go. This morning I grabbed a plain piece of white bread and two medjool dates as my pre run fuel. (Thanks Ali for the bread suggestion. It rocks.)
At mile 5, things took an interesting turn. I have mentioned before that I constantly have GI issues when I run long distances, and I have been battling a little GI bug the past couple of weeks. Suddenly, things started to feel weird and I began to panic. I have gotten used to running on the boardwalk with the luxury of water and bathrooms. When I began to feel the urgent need to – ahem – relieve myself, I looked around at the flat lands that surrounded me. I am not above doing anything in nature, but out for all to see is a different story. I pushed the thought aside and moved on.
At mile 6, there was no ignoring it any more. This had to happen. I had ran 6 miles already and had seen nothing – just a bunch of flat roads, low crops, and the occasional farm house. If I was to pop a squat, I would basically be out in the open. Just then, in the distance, I saw my oasis. A corn field! Privacy and nature’s toilet paper! My sincere apologies to the farmer of said corn field. It was beyond my power. I did my best.
As a result, mile 7 was light and happy and fast. I felt fantastic! Josh had agreed to meet me at mile 10 so I could change shoes, so I only had a 5k left before a little break with some water, snacks, my old shoes, and my boys. I made a right, only the second turn of my route and headed on to my meet up point.
The next few miles went by easily. I was on a less busy road, so I could run in the center instead of off to the left, which was bothering my left hip and knee. On the previous road I had to jump on to the shoulder when cars passed, and the shoulder was gravel which was rough to run on. This was a really pleasant stretch and I even saw some farm animals. At 10 miles, I felt great and beat the boys to our meet up spot. I took a moment to get a good stretch and enjoy the scenery. At this point I was close to my mother in law’s house. The route we had chosen left me with a 5 mile “block” to finish. The boys met me and I got some water and dates and some kisses, and went on my way.
Restarting after this break was easy only at first. The next mile and a half breezed by and I felt really great, but I hit the wall hard after this. I realized I did actually have to pee and spent an entire mile debating if I should stop or not (my advice: just take a moment to go and stop debating). At mile 12 I was beat and once again found myself in the flat lands. I saw a field of sunflowers and “watered” them, because I couldn’t hold it anymore.
Miles 13-15 were kind of rough. Once I get on a stopping spree, I have a hard time finding my rhythm. Prior to my stop at mile 10, I was hitting 10 minute miles pretty spot on, give or take a little. I started to struggle at the end, stopping to walk and then having a hard time finding that 10 minute stride. I would stop and walk, then race off at anywhere from 8:30 to 9:30, and then be exhausted all over again. My next attempt (16 miles next week, ugh), I’ll keep it in mind to go back to my long pace or even slower.
Fueling for this run was really great. I didn’t feel wiped during the run or even after. I did have a GI issue, but I honestly think it was unrelated to fueling and more related to my recent “bug” or whatever has been going on. I set out to stay natural and clean with my fuel before and during my run, and I do think that helped a lot.
After the run I felt pretty great, honestly. I did take an epic afternoon nap, and when I woke up I felt revived and fresh. I wasn’t ravenously hungry until the next night really late, where I tried to eat our friends out of house and home. I also had two beers post long run, a lot of sleep, and a lot of water (plus some nuun), and I was not dehydrated at all. Everything sort of clicked, even though I had to walk a lot at the end, and it was a successful run. Yay!