A three-hour workout can be a very lonely time.
One of the benefits to blogging about my workouts has been having something to think about during my exceptionally long runs. Instead of focusing entirely on any pain I might be feeling or how much farther I still have to run, I can think about the topic that I'll cover when I get home.
In a way, it's like having someone to talk to when I'm out there, which is nice. Until I actually make the effort to join some sort of running community, I'm going to be out there by myself for a whole lot of miles, and it gets lonely. Sure, I try to say hello to as many of my fellow runners as I can, but it's not like I'll actually engage anyone in conversation as we go flying by one another. I like running with other people, but any major change in my speed or stride length wreaks havoc on my temperamental knees, so I'll eventually want to find someone who runs my pace and join up with whatever group they've got.
In the meantime, I had 20 miles to do this morning, and I actually went to bed quite excited about it. I had a new pre-workout drink mix that I was going to try, and I'd stocked up on energy gels. I've had my route planned out all week, and of course that 2-0 mark is always a big one to overcome.
The course I'd planned was actually a little more than it needed to be (20.72 miles) because of my 60-80% issue. The hard part of my race mentally is when I am between 60% and 80% done, essentially the fourth mile of five. Knowing this, I wanted my longest run to be as close to 80% of the marathon distance as I could manage. If I can complete 80% of a marathon on my own, then I can do the full one with 26 bands pushing me along the course.
When the alarm went off at 6, I got right out of bed, made my drink, and got everything together that I'd set out last night. Per the instructions, I gave the drink, which is called Buzzerk, and which had been given to me as a sample at a GNC-type store, a few minutes to work. Strangely, it sent so much energy through me that my hands tingled a little bit. I took that to be a good thing, and checked the weather before I left. It was already 78 degrees. At 6:20am.
Despite the heat, I actually felt pretty good for about 13 miles of the run, but the heat took a cumulative toll on me, and as I crossed the 2-hour threshold, I felt myself starting to wear out. I'd made a decision to put a hill in my last four miles as a "work hard when you're tired" training tool, but I'd underestimated just how tired I would be at that point. The temperature had risen to 83 by the time I got to it, and the sun had peaked its head out from behind the clouds. I made it up the entire hill, and then stopped to walk for a bit. I'd already stopped a couple times to catch my breath, so I figured this would just be one more.
But I couldn't get started again. I knew after a minute or so that I was done. The heat had destroyed me, and I wouldn't be running any more today. Which was really okay.
I've had a great few weeks of running. In fact, in the last three weeks, I've run 127 miles, which is sort of incredible. I've got another 20-miler coming up in two weeks, and next Saturday I've got a step-back long run of only 12, which should give me plenty of time to rest and recover. And what's more, I still completed all of my miles today. I just happened to walk the last 3.5 miles.
Today was a victory for the heat, but also for my ability to listen to my body when it's telling me to slow down. I needed to stop when I did, and I don't think it will be too damaging to my overall training.
And two weeks from now, I'll do the whole thing.
78-83 Degrees / Cloudy, Humid
2 Hours, 22 Minutes, 48 Seconds