Saturday, September 20, 2014

The 20 miler that wasn't...

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'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 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 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.

Well I 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'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...


  1. My run sucked today too!! The humidity in town was killer. I'm impressed you got in 15. That's awesome... You will appreciate that 20 miler so much next week!


    And now, that means there is a SPECTACULAR run ahead of you.

    I have faith in you!

  3. Girl you are not alone. I've had many runs like that and I'm not even half way done!! My 20 miler during my last training cycle was brutal. And it was on the heels of so many awesome long runs that like you said were only a mile or two less. My body totally quit on me that day. But, it didn't matter. I still finished that race and although I went in with an injury, my body was ready. So, you will be just fine I promise!!! I had one training run where I knew I was dealing with an injury and was trying to push through. I couldn't make it .25 mile without pain. I sat on a bench and cried and threw my water bottle haha!! So, give yourself some grace and keep going. You got this. You. Got. This.