Well, that was ugly.

I’m 3 weeks out from Bighorn so had 31 miles scheduled this morning for my longest run of this mini-cycle.  Unfortunately, I only managed 26.5 miles before pulling the plug and calling it a day.  This is an extremely rare event for me.  If I have a distance planned, then I run the distance come hell or high water.  My pace might be slow as molasses, but the distance gets done at least.  I can count on one hand the number of runs that I’ve had to cut short over the past several years and still have a couple fingers left.

This doesn’t mean I never move my schedule around or cut back some runs.  If something comes up or if my legs aren’t quite feeling it, I’ll change up what I had originally planned before heading out the door.  But it’s very rare that I can’t finish a run.

The wheels started coming off around mile 6 or 7.  My legs felt a little heavy from some strength workouts earlier in the week (4 hours of wheelbarrowing mulch, hike with 35lb weight vest).  I guess I never fully recovered from them because they never really loosened up like I thought they would.  Even with that I was still holding a decent pace in line with my 25 miler last weekend as I finished up my first 10 mile lap over at Cheslen.

I chugged an Ensure shake, then hit the trail.  About two miles in, the temperature seemed to jump 10 degrees and the humidity ramped up to 11 within the space of a dozen steps.  Hmmmm. . . . This could get interesting.  I dialed back the effort a little bit and started walking all of the uphills (instead of most) and even some of the flatter sections.  Even though my pace slowed, my effort was still pretty high.

At mile 17, I swapped out my two 20oz bottles for another pair.  Last week I only brought 3 bottles for my 25 miles and didn’t finish all of them.  Since I was already over halfway, I figured the 2 would last me.  Wrong.  My fluid intake just kept accelerating as the day went along.  #thedifferencebetweenrainy50andhumid80

It wasn’t until mile 23 that I started thinking about cutting my run short.  At first I was only going to drop the last 3 mile loop, but as my bottles kept getting lighter and lighter (and my pace went from 12 minute miles to 14 minute miles), it was obvious I wasn’t going to have enough fluids to finish the run.  And I ended up draining the last of my bottles about 2 minutes before getting back to my car.

Could I have conserved my fluids and then finished the last couple miles dry?  Probably.  Would it have been smart?  Not really.  And I had a feeling that I was rapidly moving from good long run stress to something-bad-is-about-to-happen long run stress.  I’m steadily gaining confidence in my 100-miler capabilities and not finishing the last 4 miles of this run isn’t going to materially impact whether or not I finish Bighorn.  But doing something stupid could totally impact my race (and not in a good way).  So I erred on the side of caution.

Funny aside.  So I’m finishing up loop 2 at mile 20 and a couple out walking their dog approach.  The guy sees me grab something from my car and says “Must be a good feeling, huh?”  I chuckle and reply that it will be once I finish.  Well, turns out it wasn’t really a good feeling.  It kinda sucked actually.  But that’s how it goes sometimes.  Doesn’t mean the next run won’t be awesome.

Stay cool out there.

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