Today my training plan called for 18...but because I have had such awesome long runs lately, and I had already done 18 (2 weeks ago) I decided to do 20 today. I thought if I did 20 this week and 22 next week before starting my taper (is it here yet?) I would feel more confident going into the race.
All week I have had a little anxiety about running 20 miles...it's only 2 miles longer than my longest of 18, but this week was different because I was going to have to run it alone. I usually run with a local running club that sets up water stops every 2 miles. Something about knowing others are out there with me and knowing that every 2 miles I can stop for a few seconds to grab some water is reassuring.
I woke up early this morning and was feeling a little uneasy...I wasn't excited for my long run...and usually I am. I think I am sick in the head...I loooove the thrill of the long run...especially when I am tackling a distance I haven't done before. That feeling of accomplishment is like nothing else. However, this morning didn't feel the same. I wanted to crawl back in bed and skip my run...but I didn't...I pushed all the negative thoughts out of my brain and started through my normal pre-long run routine. I had my applesauce and chia seeds, popped my 30 energybits and headed out the door. The temperature felt great...but I could definitely feel the 97% humidity. The sun still hadn't come up and for a moment I felt that familiar twinge of excitement of an early morning long run.
Mile 1 felt pretty normal. It's never my favorite mile because my legs haven't loosened up yet. Well in to mile 2...I knew this was going to be a tough run. I was struggling...my legs were stiff, my heart was beating faster than normal, and I was out of breath. I just told myself that it was taking longer for me to get warmed up...I needed to be patient and give it another few miles.
Miles 3 and 4 weren't terrible, but they weren't great. I was struggling to breath and I felt like I was working harder than normal. Usually with my long run pace I am not breathing heavy or pushing myself...but today sure felt like more effort than normal.
I told myself I just needed to get to mile 6. I had decided that since I wasn't running with a group that I would stick to 6 mile loops that would bring me by the apartment where I had stashed water and Gatorade. I thought that this would not only be a good way to avoid carrying my hydration pack, but I thought it would break up the miles as well. I finally made it to mile 6 and my water and Gatorade. I popped a few energybits and checked my pace...I was averaging around a 9 min mile pace, which was a relief because I felt much slower.
As I set out for my second loop I decided to take a hillier path...the reason being the awesome down hills ;) and the water fountain on the golf course about half-way through. I think it is a understatement when I say that these miles were ROUGH! The first couple miles felt okay and I stayed around an 8:45-9 min mile pace...but then it was like I hit a brick wall. I felt like I was running through quick sand and the air felt thick... I was having trouble breathing and keeping my legs from cramping up. I started stopping every mile or so to stretch and just catch my breath.
As I got close to home and my water I knew I needed to do something to turn this run around. My clothes were soaked from the humidity and I was feeling light-headed. I decided that instead of just stopping for a drink I would go inside, change my clothes, and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I thought giving myself a few minutes to regroup (and foam roll) might make the last 8 miles a little easier. After changing, eating, and rolling I set out for my final 8 miles feeling better physically and mentally. I made it about 2 miles before I realized that I might not make it to 20. That was when I started bargaining with my body...I told myself I would stop at 18 since that was what I had originally planned. It was only 4 more miles...I could do that.
...spoiler alert...I couldn't. Mile 14 found me
sitting laying on a park bench in tears...no joke. I felt defeated, tired, and really disappointed in myself. I couldn't make it more than a few minutes of running without feeling like my lungs were being squeezed and my legs were going to fall off. I sat laid there for a few minutes feeling sorry for myself and decided that I would give it one more mile...that if I made it to 15 and I still felt this way I would stop.
made it limped through another mile and realized that it was a lost cause. I was probably causing more damage than good by pushing myself to do something that my body clearly couldn't do today. The worst part was that I was still 3 miles from home...and AJ was out golfing so I couldn't call him to come pick me up. (I always joke that I am going to do this...never expecting that I would actually need to one day) So I sucked it up and tearfully walked the 3 miles home. My legs were screaming at me...and my mind was telling me I was a failure...this was the longest 45 minutes of my life. All I wanted to do was go home and curl up in bed and sleep the rest of the day.
Now here I am laying in bed, with a million thoughts running through my head. I usually like to try and stay positive...and I am mad because I am being so hard on myself. I know I shouldn't be...I know that I am bound to have "bad runs" but why this one? Why my 20 miler so close to race day? I know it can't always be rainbows and butterflies...and that I am going to fall down (metaphorically of course...I've managed to stay on my feet and avoid skinned knees and elbows throughout training thus far, and I would like to keep it that way!) I just need to re-group and get back up...I have to start thinking about next week...
So I am making a promise to myself right now....today's run is over...out of my mind. It will be okay...I am not a failure and I CAN do this. Next week will be better...and the best part is when I accomplish that 20 miles it will feel even better than if I had done it today...