Up until this point my training has been pretty uneventful. That’s a good thing and I prefer it to be that way, but it makes for some pretty boring recaps. This week I encountered the long run from Hell. Okay, that might be a bit dramatic- I actually laughed about it while telling my husband when I got home. It was eventful though.
This past weekend my training group was out in the suburbs and I tend to skip those runs because I’m spoiled with having the majority of the long runs starting 10 minutes away from me. It was also a cut back week for my training group and, while it was also a cutback week for me, my cutback long run was still much longer than the group run. I decided I would just hit this one solo and it would be a good ramp up for race day.
We had some beautiful weather last week, but for some reason the summer-like weather tends to return for the weekend. I had a good plan to start at 6am and run the neighborhoods surrounding the trail start for about an hour until the sun came up and then jump on the trail for the remainder of the run. When I run with my group we have water stops so I am able to bring a handheld to refill at the stops and also grab cups of Gatorade as needed. Since those wouldn’t be out on the trail I had to make a different hydration plan. I brought my handheld and packed a Swell bottle in the car. My hydration plan was to head out for an hour with water and before hitting the trail I would toss my headlight into the car, refill my water bottle, and throw a Nuun tab in to hold me over for the next hour or so. There is usually some kind of group hydration on the trail even when my group isn’t out so I would refill with water at that point and then hit up the water fountain before campus for another refill and again on my turnaround. I had packed my debit card in my handheld just in case I wanted to stop off near campus and get a Gatorade. My alarm rang out at 5am and I got up, ate some breakfast, packed some stuff up in the car, and headed out. There were storms in the forecast for later in the morning so I threw some extra socks/shoes, a towel, and an extra shirt in the car just in case I got caught on my way back. I was good to go, but apparently the universe had other plans for me.
I arrived at the high school around 6 and headed out. I got about a tenth of a mile from my car when there was a flash of lightening and a rumble of thunder. I decided to head back to my car and wait it out figuring it would pass quickly. It did not. It stormed for almost an hour and at one point I’m pretty sure it was hailing. So I just sat in my car and stalked the weather app trying to make a decision. I debated just going home and moving my run to Sunday, but the weather app claimed it would move out by 7am. I had wanted to get going at 6 because it was already in the low 70s and would start creeping into the 80s by mid-morning. With the forecasted storms I knew the humidity would be high and just wanted to get done as early as reasonably possible. By 6:30 it was pretty clear that I was going to be starting an hour late. At about 6:50 it seemed like the thunder and lightening were out of the picture as a steady rain continued. I jogged over for a quick stop at the bathroom and then decided to hit the trail. It very quickly stopped raining, but the trail floods easily so within a half mile my shoes and socks were already soaked.
In all honesty, I started this run pretty frustrated. I got into it and actually missed my first mile beep in (I had been running by HR and had the screen just pulled up to that). As I checked my watch to see how far I’d gone I realized that I hadn’t grabbed a Nuun tab. I arrived at the first group water station about 3 or 4 miles in and refilled my handheld even though it was still pretty full. I took a swig of Gatorade, but it was purple Gatorade. I know I shouldn’t complain about free Gatorade, but since the general reaction to this part of the story has been “EW” I feel I can say who the heck puts out grape Gatorade?!?! I continued on feeling pretty good and worked my way down to the water fountain. It didn’t work. No problem, my run would take me downtown and I figured there would be one there I could use. I had gels with me and was taking them as needed. Along I went feeling pretty good, but it was starting to get warmer. Then I ran out of water.
No big deal, I didn’t let it get to my head and got myself to my turn around point. There was no water fountain. I debated running around a bit to try to find somewhere I could refill, but it was so early I knew nothing would be open and didn’t want to waste the energy. There was a water fountain on campus I could hit up on the way back. I made my way back to campus and was starting to struggle. The sun was peaking out a bit and the cardiac drift was starting to set in (or dehydration? Both?). I switched my watch over to mile and pace and decided to stick to my normal Saturday run pace. I headed up to the water fountain. It didn’t work. I was now 6 miles down without water. I got back on the trail and had planned to head up the next “exit” and run to the convince store for a refill. Then, sitting there in it’s beautiful blue glory, was a huge community water jug. I’m pretty sure I said “THANK GOD” out loud and refilled.
But I knew I was on my way to dehydration already and on top of that I didn’t have any electrolytes beyond what my gels were offering so things would get tough. I was maintaining pace just fine, but I could feel the heat beating down on me. There is one section of the trail that doesn’t have any shade and I took that a little fast. My plan was to get back into the shade and make a quick stop to take off my visor. I hate running with a visor on, but since it was raining when I first headed out I opted to wear it. It hadn’t been bothering me much, but at this point it was so warm I couldn’t stand having something on my head. I got there, took it off, and headed back out. A little while later my legs started to cramp. Damn electrolyte imbalance! I only had a few miles left so at the next mile spot I stopped and stretched. I started up again, but ultimately decided to quit about 1.50 miles from the finish and just walk back. I was able to maintain pace despite the cramping and even when I tried to slow down my legs just kept on kicking. It’s always tricky to make a decision in those situations – keep pushing or call it quits? I knew that come race day I could push through if I needed to, but since I still have 4 weeks left risking a strained muscle didn’t seem like the right choice.
I was really glad when I got back to my car, but overall I was pretty proud of myself for running for over three hours by myself with no music and not freaking out about the water situation. I can’t control the weather and just had to deal with it. I know that there will be plenty of hydration spots on the marathon course (they’ve added some more this year) so that won’t be an issue. If anything, I learned that my current hydration strategy that has been working for me is one I should stick with moving forward. Aside from the hydration situation, I felt good during this run and am ready for my final peak week.
After a shower and some stretching I went to the kitchen to make some food and found these in the fridge.
Later on there were stuffed jalapeños in the fridge too. I love my husband!
The rest of the week was uneventful. As I mentioned we had some great weather during the week and my pace was much faster in HR z2.
Week 15 is my final peak week and I’m feeling ready to dig in and push through my last few really long, difficult workouts. I still have some tough runs ahead following peak week, but those will be shorter distance and focused on goal race pace.
Four weeks until race day.