I almost titled this post, “16 miserable miles” thanks to the humidity which I’ll talk about later. As I thought about that title I couldn’t help remembering the very first time I ran sixteen miles, two months shy of two years ago.
That runner was a completely different person. Not only was it the first time I had ever run a distance longer than a half marathon, it was also the first time I had ever run on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. I knew nothing about fueling or hydrating properly. I had to walk the first tenth of every mile past mile 12. My average pace was somewhere in the 12-13 minute range. That was a truly miserable 16 miles, 16 miles I was not ready for.
Today was totally different. In the time since that post was written, I’ve run three marathons and am two weeks away from a fourth. I’ve run on the Swamp Rabbit Trail so much I don’t need to look at the mile markers to remember how much farther I have to run. My average pace hovered between 9 minutes and 9:25 (except while walking to eat Gu chomps).
Thinking back on that post helped me get through my “welcome back summer” long run. (Obviously, the quotations marks indicate heavy sarcasm.)
I knew the heat/humidity was going to be awful today so I adjusted my hydration plan accordingly. Instead of waiting a few miles to start drinking like I’m able to get away with in the winter, I started at mile 1.
(One side note: I had to avail myself of the facilities on the Furman campus and think they should start marketing that “restroom” as a sauna. I felt like I was boiling in there.)
Running felt so hard for the first four miles. My stride felt awkward. My legs felt heavy. Part of me even briefly considered bagging the whole run. Since I get those thoughts fairly routinely within the first few miles of a run like this, I have experience with telling myself to shut up.
After eating a couple chomps and getting plenty of water at the four mile mark, I felt a lot better. In fact, I felt so strong for the next few miles that I wondered what I had been complaining about earlier.
After mile 8 though, things felt really hard. I kept glancing down at my garmin expecting to see times closer to (or over) 10 minutes and could not understand how I could possibly be maintaining a pace in the 9-9:15 range when it felt so hard. That’s the humidity for you.
(Second side note: The humidity was so bad today that towards the end of the run when I wiped the sweat off my face, there was no dry place to wipe my hand. You’re welcome for that.)
Even though I guzzled water at almost every water stop and took in water every mile, I could feel that I was a bit dehydrated and kept myself motivated with the thought of gatorade in my car.
When I finished, I felt so relieved and happy. I’m thrilled with this run and the pace I was able to maintain in this awful humidity. I am determined to make this summer one where I continue to progress instead of take two step back like the two summers before.
Two weeks until San Francisco!