So after last weeks successful 17 miles on the road (my first road run in months), I felt confident approaching this weeks 18 miler. I found out that I would have Thursday off of work (not enough patients=time off) so I decided to run long rather then waiting until Saturday in which I was going to have to combine a long run with family time, spectating my friend at her first ultra, and errands.
I am incredibly blessed to run with a hardcore group of women who regularly wake up at 4:30am a few days per week to get a run in before work and life begins. I love these women who unquestionably sacrifice an extra hour or two of sleep to run in rain, sleet, snow and whatever other crap Mother Nature throws at us. 5 years ago, I never would have thought that I would voluntarily wake up at the ass crack of dawn to run in sub zero temps with snow blowing in my face only to finish, come home and then start the insanity of the day.
I digress. I decided to meet my regular group to run our typical 5 mile route and then to add on 13 miles running around town after. My frequent running partner Amy decided to add on a few as well which meant that I would have company for the first 8 miles. My intention was to start slow and stay slow. I knew that staying with the pack for the first 5 miles would mean running about a minute faster then my long run pace. Internally I knew this. I really did. And I had great intentions. However, first mile was 90 seconds faster then goal pace. And it didn’t get much better then that. I start chatting with friends and before I knew it, I had run the first 5 at a substantially faster pace then intended.
The next 3 were much better. There were more hills which helped to slow me down and I stopped to walk a few times to bring my heart rate down. If this was an 8 mile run, it would’ve been great. However it was not an 8 mile run and I had many more miles ahead of me. Looking back, this was about as good as it got.
I said goodbye to Amy and started my loooong run all the way out to the edge of town. The humidity had been bordering on close to 100% all morning and the temps were in the low 70’s and climbing. To saw that I was sweaty is an understatement. I lack the words to describe just how wet I was after only half my run.
Ok so I kept going and going…and going. I was losing motivation the further I went. I kept repeating my mantra “the further you go, the stronger you become.” This worked for about a mile. I thought lack of calories was an issue so I downed a honey stinger gel with caffeine. That helped for a few minutes but soon my lack of motivation and decreasing energy were back.
The smile is deceiving
So rather then dragging this on mile by mile, let me summarize: It got hot, it never rained which I was hoping for, my watch broke, I swore at my legs (those shits were NOT going to cooperate), I walked a lot, I took a sad face picture and sent to my BRF’s Amy and Alethea, I got a nice motivating text from Elizabeth and then I finally finished. I actually only ran about 17 miles (see the part about my watch breaking)
In thinking about why this run sucked, here are some conclusions that I’ve been toying with: ridiculous heat and humidity, not enough recovery time between long runs, not enough fuel, and starting too fast.
Obligatory running shoe picture
I am a firm believer that even a bad run serves a purpose. With all of the hours I spend honing my skill at this sport, it’s guaranteed that some of them are going to feel less then good. The important part is to shift my focus from the negatives of the day to how can I use those moments to my advantage. In my 6 years as a runner, I have had a lot of tough runs. Today I am going to focus on using those tough miles to mentally strengthen me for future runs.