Friday, September 26, 2014

Long Run 18 Miles

There are many things we love about living in our small town of Huxley with one of them being that it doesn’t take long to get anywhere. While this is great for most everything, it does tend to make it a bit tricky to get higher mileage in. Because I’m training for a trail run, I hit the dirt roads and the forest preserve and bike trail for almost every day. I use to lay out a route so that I don’t have to figure where to go next when I’m out. 

My race is a loop meaning I will run the same course three times. I decided that I would turn my 18 miles into a loop run of six miles each. For one, I didn’t want to spend time figuring out how to weave in and out of Huxley. Secondly, I wanted to see how I would respond to doing the same course three times in a row. Lastly, every time I thought about running these 18 miles, I got a little nauseous. I think because I’m now entering "most mileage in a single run" territory. Cutting it into three runs helped me keep breakfast down.

Loop 1: On my way out, I stashed a water bottle in the ditch near a friend’s house. I could have carried it with me the entire time in my pack but I really didn’t want the extra weight. I had a podcast queued up (one ear bud only) and took it easy. Even though I had run this route many, many times, I felt this was my longest loop mentally. I wondered how I would do it two more times but tried to focus on the loop I was on. I was trying something new nutritionally and I think that may have had something to do with it because I did not feel that way after I took a gel. I was pleased that my loop planning had worked out well. 

Loop 2: I popped out my earbud because I was at the end of my current podcast and needed to give my ears and mind a rest. I also wanted to pay attention to what might happen to me physically and mentally during this go around. I did find this loop to be easier than the first. I’m guessing because of the fuel but also because of the familiarity of the route. I was quite conscientious in keeping my heart rate where it needed to be but often got caught up in the running. What surprised me was that I felt like running at the pace I was. I’ve heard a saying that goes along the lines of “Run when the trail gives it to you”  so I let myself enjoy those moments while keeping a reign on the momentum. There was still six more miles to go.

Loop 3: Before I started this loop, I stopped to refill my water bottles with Tailwind and water from the stashed bottle. This was an absolute pain. Each of the bottles on my pack only holds ten ounces. The neck of the bottle is angled which is supposed to make it easier for consuming on the run but is terrible for filling. I love a lot about this hydration vest but this is not one of them. I’ll be experimenting some more in my upcoming runs. Once I got that out of the way and wrangled my headphone cords into submission (Why, why, why must they tangle themselves so quickly? I don’t need answers, I need solutions!) and listened to another podcast. Even though I was still feeling pretty good, I was starting to feel it. It as in everything. My feet especially have been hurting and I don’t really know why other than they have to get stronger as well. This, in turn, caused me to wonder how in the world I would get to 31 miles. These long runs are not only for my physical strength, they are for my mental strength as well. They say the mind is the weakest part and now I was testing that. As much as I wanted to trick my brain into thinking I was really supposed to run twenty and just happened to cut it short at eighteen, I was a terrible convincer. I came to the corner where two other times I turned right to loop it again and this time I got to turn left and head back home. Suddenly I was so done. I was hungry. I was tired. I was thirsty. Thirsty for water. “Hey, look! A water bottle on the side of the road! Can I drink it? The seal is still intact. I’m going to drink this water right now. This label missing, road scuffed, lukewarm water.” It tasted so good. 

I made it home, glugged down a smoothie, threw some ice into already cold bath water, took the chilly plunge for fifteen minutes, before finally taking a warm shower. I don’t even know how long I was out there nor what my average pace or mile splits were. I was done.

Well, it seems like those 18 miles just flew right by didn't they? 

Next week’s run: 20 miles  

1 comment:

  1. Enjoying your write-ups on going the distance. I am in the exact same place with my first Marathon Oct 26th ... those long slow runs are a humbling experience. Keep up the GREAT work!!


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