Brutal. Soul-crushing. Hard. Unending. Soul-crushing (yes, I know I used that one twice, but it comes the closest so I might just use it a couple more times). These are just some of the words that come to mind when I think back to yesterday’s 20-mile run. There are many others, however I’m trying to keep this a family friendly blog so will leave off with those. It wasn’t supposed to be that bad of a run. Sure, I was planning on running more trails than I have so far this year, but my long runs are always at a fairly leisurely pace so I wasn’t going to be pushing too hard. I was expecting to get up, throw on my tunes, and just breeze through the first part of my Eastern States maintaining plan. What I ended up with was a world of hurt.
My last post was all about how I think I’ve finally got this whole endurance thing down. About how I’ve learned all these lessons to get better at running long distances. I ended hoping that I hadn’t just jinxed myself. Karma decided not to wait 2 months until my next race to pay me a visit. Turns out it was only 2 days later, which must be some sort of record.
Sitting here a day later, I’m still not really sure what happened. I started the run feeling fine and clocking 10 minute miles, give or take. At mile 8, I started feeling a little tired so started walking some of the steeper hill sections. After a couple miles, I was walking more and more hills though still keeping my pace around 11-12 minute miles. The trails I was running where rolling hills so this wasn’t too bad of a pace for me. By the time I got to mile 13 though, I was starting to take short walk breaks on even the flat sections. Before I knew it, I was in all out grind mode. Just taking one step after another. Running where I could and moving forward when I couldn’t. It got so bad I was pretty much counting down the half miles there at the end. Just a complete suffer fest. Mentally I wasn’t in a great place, but that’s mostly because I was physically spent. And after only a 20 mile run. Yes, I know how this sounds, but it’s not like this is my first time running 20 miles. Or my 50th. This was the 93rd time in the past 4+ years that I’ve covered this distance. Twenty miles isn’t a walk in the park, but it has gotten to become a comfortable distance. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this horrible after a run. After getting back into the house, I grabbed a cold drink and laid down on the floor for 20 minutes to recover. I was an absolute wreck.
So what happened?
It was hot. The temperatures were in the mid-70s with high humidity. I think this was the primary problem. I’ve run stronger in hotter temperatures, but I just couldn’t get comfortable yesterday. There was a short time in the last half mile that I even had to stop walking and just take a deep breath. Compounding this was that I was wearing a new hydration vest for the first time. I typically use a waist belt, however I got this vest that can hold 3 bottles (2 in front, 1 in back). Given the temperatures, I thought this would give me enough water though I did end up running out about 2 miles from the end. Unfortunately, I think the extra layer on top kept my body from cooling off as effectively as it normally does. I noticed that I was sweating a lot more than I normally do so I’m sure dehydration played a role as well. But I don’t think this was the only thing to do me in.
I’m not fully recovered from Old Dominion. I’m 3 weekends out from OD100 and while I was able to start up my long runs in this timeframe after Umstead, I think this was too early this time around. I didn’t have any pains while running, but my legs got tired much too quickly. I’m sure this was a contributing factor in my overheating as my body was working much harder than it normally would. The good news is that I didn’t attempt to push myself to keep running or hit certain paces. Even though I didn’t understand why I was running as poorly as I was, I shifted smoothly into survival mode by walking whenever I felt like it. I even remembered to take off my hat periodically to help cool myself down.
My training plan had me doing another 20 mile run next weekend. That’s obviously not going to happen now. I’ll take the next 2 weeks very easy with 1 and 5 mile runs. The following weekend I’ll see how 25 miles feels and decide whether to go with my final long run of 31 miles. I could probably coast into ES100 without any more long runs and still be in better shape than I was last year. So I’ll relax for a bit and then see how my body reacts. Hopefully, this was just one bad run. They happen.
You ever have one of those bad runs that seem to come out of nowhere? How do you deal with them?