Sometimes it takes a couple tries for me to learn my lesson. This particular lesson? Don’t run a night trail race the evening before a long run.
Last night I ran the Moonshiner’s 5k for the fourth consecutive time. (It makes me very happy to write that since that means that I’ve been a runner for four years!) I love this race, hence why I’ve run it 4 times. However, now that my goals have shifted to the long distance, the marathon, this race doesn’t quite fit. Last year this race took so much out of me that I had to shorten my long run the next day from 14 to 10. There’s just not a lot of recovery time in between.
This year I remembered last year’s experience and regretted not checking my training plan before registering. Today’s long run? 20 as opposed to last year’s 14. When I toed the line last night I had to fight the urge to snag a course PR. I have much bigger goals. While I still loved the race (and think that I’m crazy to run a trail race at night) I did not enjoy it as much because I kept thinking about today’s long run. I’d love to run it again next year but may have to forgo, especially if I’m unable to BQ in my spring marathons.
(One side note before I move on: I’m disappointed with Half-Moon Outfitters this year. They’ve always done such a great job that the negatives were more obvious this year. First, instead of the spectacular tech t-shirts, the race shirts were cotton t-shirts in men’s sizes, not even unisex. That was a huge disappointment. Second, instead of providing bottles of water at the finish, they provided smallish size cups and containers of highly watered down Gatorade and Nuun. It’s been one of SC’s most humid summers and that’s all they provided. On the plus side, the volunteers were amazing and the course was well marked. For a trail run, the benefits of those two things cannot be overstressed.)
Back to the long run…
This week I rededicated myself to marathon training after last week’s mental break. It started out well (see Monday’s training recap for details) but then I started to doubt that I’ll be able to meet my 3:45 goal in 5 weeks after a botched speedwork attempt Wednesday. That made me nervous for today’s run, especially after last night’s race.
When I started this run I took a different mental approach and decided to “celebrate every mile.” No matter how many 20 milers a person has run, they’re still tough beasts to master. That mantra carried me through today’s run helping me break down the beast into twenty little pieces.
My pace was rough at first. My legs protested the movement so soon after last night’s effort. (Mile 1: 10:17, Mile 2 9:52) I started to get discouraged but kept at it and forced myself to avoid glancing at the Garmin as much as possible.
Another “trick” that I used to help myself get through this run was taking along enough fuel so that my fuel breaks (and yes, I walked through these today) came every three miles. I finally opened one of the packs of Gatorade chews I bought a while back to test out. I love them. They’re much easier to chew than Gu Chomps and cheaper too. (Always a plus :D)
I finally settled into a good rhythm around mile 5 and maintained an average 9:30-9:40 pace. (Every third mile was slower though since I walked .8-.1 while chewing the Gatorade chews and/or Chomps.)
Then about two miles out from Furman it started drizzling. (I’ll say it again, the Weather Channel is not the most reliable app/website.) When I took a pit stop at my car to drink a Gatorade, I checked the Weather Channel app to see if I needed to head indoors (aka avoid running the remaining 12 miles in a downpour/thunderstorm). I had to laugh when the app told me, as the sprinkles fell on me, that there was 0% chance of precipitation in the area.
I kept going.
I felt great for the next two or so miles, as is usual, then started to struggle a bit after the halfway point. My “celebrate every mile” mantra came quite in handy then, especially since the countdown was now in my favor.
The drizzle ended about two to three miles out the other direction from Furman but I was so focused on the run that I didn’t notice until I turned around by Linky Stone Park. Whoops.
That last half mile before my last turn around was pretty rough. My music had ended so I was left with my own breathing. (Side note: Why won’t my iPhone play my entire playlist when I put it on shuffle? Every time I run until the playlist ends I notice that one or two songs didn’t play.)
At that turn around point, I filled up my water bottles (the little ones that go in my frustrating hydration belt that won’t stay put around my waist) and took a few more seconds to get prepared for the six mile trek back to the car.
I kept moving forward even though my legs were telling me that they were done and had been done for a while.
The drizzle/light rain started again as I got closer to Furman which caused me a bit of frustration because of what it did to my shirt. I would have worn one of my spaghetti strap shirts if they had been clean. Since they weren’t, I was stuck with a shirt that did not work well with the hydration belt, especially when completely soaked with sweat and rain. There was quite a bit of frustration there.
That being said, I finished and I think I finished well. I kept pushing forward and completed yet another 20 mile run. Though it wasn’t what I had hoped for originally, it was far better than I expected after last night’s race. This 20 miler showed that I have come a long way as a runner in just a year. Plus, my average pace fits neatly into the McMillan pace ranges generated by my goal time for MCM.
I’m excited to see what’s in store for the next 5 weeks of training.