I know now why so many southern runners choose late fall marathons. Running (or even attempting) 20 miles in August is a recipe for near-certain disaster.
I knew that both the temperatures and humidity were going to be high today. Thus, I planned to drink as much as necessary and take walk breaks if I needed to. I wanted to hit my goal pace of 8:30-8:50 but I was willing to let go of that depending on the weather.
The run started off well. I planned to divide the run into 5 parts, taking 2 Gu Chomps every 4.5 miles with 4 of those sections being 4.5 miles and the last portion 2 miles.
First section: 9:06, 8:40, 8:38, 8:35, 9:28
It took a little while to warm up but I settled in quickly and the pace felt slightly harder than an easy run. This was the best section of the run. It already felt warm by that point but I tried to ignore it. The last split is from the mile when I walked while eating my Chomps.
Second section: 9:28 (repeat from above), 8:45, 8:47, 8:42, 8:45
After eating the Chomps I got a noticeable boost. I realize now that I should have taken more fuel. As I got closer to the halfway point I started to wonder how I would be able to do another 10 miles. I tried to banish that thought and keep going. I still thought that I could finish this run as prescribed, maybe even finish the 20 miles before 180 minutes.
Third section: 9:31, 8:53, 8:55, 8:46, 9:30 (.5)
This is where it started getting hard, fast. Thinking back to my quick glance at the weather channel app, I remember that temps were predicted to rise from 73 to 84ish between 7 and 10. This was about that time. I had stopped at mile 10 to refill my water bottle. I guzzled from the water fountain before setting out again. Around mile 12 I couldn’t wait to get to 13.5 and a chance to walk again. I also decided that I would probably have to give up maintaining the faster pace. I told myself I just had to get to mile 15. After that I would walk a tenth and then run the other nine.
Fourth section: 9:30 (.5), 8:41
So…when I got to mile 15, I stopped and then saved my run. I wanted to be able to see my average pace for the first 15 miles before I had to get through the last 5 miles at a slower pace. My average pace for the first 15 was 8:55 which is just outside the 8:30-8:50 margin but also includes the three walk breaks. I think I need to start practicing with gels. They’re not my preference but at least I can eat those while running.
Fifth section: 9:46, 9:50ish (I forgot to pause the Garmin when I refilled my water bottle)
I turned around at the start of this section and honestly could not fathom finishing 5 more miles. I was almost out of water so I made my next goal getting to the Swamp Rabbit Cafe to refill my water bottle. It was there I decided to call it. I felt so drained. I was drenched in sweat from head to toe. My socks were so soaked I could feel them squishing in my shoes. Another 3.5 miles was not worth potential dehydration or heatstroke. Seriously, it was that hot out. I hated not being able to finish but I knew that it was the right thing to do. I texted Mom and arranged to get picked up. I managed to finish 17 miles. It felt good to be done but I almost talked myself into finishing the final three miles. It’s only three miles after all. I didn’t. I stuck with my original decision and then have been working ever since to make myself be okay with that.
I ended up walking another mile or so for cool down while I waited for Mom to make her way over to my stopping point. I was very thankful that she was able to do that!
I could feel disappointed that once again, I was not able to complete a long run as prescribed. I’m not disappointed though. If it hadn’t been for the heat and humidity (a ten degree temperature increase is nothing to mess with) I would have been able to complete it as prescribed. The first 15 miles are proof of that. I’m also pleased that I made the smart decision instead of pushing too far. I still have another 20 and 22 mile long run left in the plan. I just hope that it’s not quite as warm for those. :)