Sunday, April 13, 2014
10 Miles....the Good, the Bad, and the (somewhat) Ugly
A huge part of me sharing my running "life" with the world is that I am going to be real about my journey. I love all of my accomplishments, but these accomplishments wouldn't have much value without conquering obstacles along the way (and being reminded, repeatedly, that I am not any more special or talented than anyone else).
Case in point, I had a 10-mile run on my agenda for yesterday. I have run many 10-milers in the past six years that I have considered myself a distance runner. They are not difficult, but do require a little bit of forethought in terms of carb-loading, hydration and fueling.
Saturday morning arrives, and although I had been eating well and drinking plenty of water in the couple days prior.....I kind of over-looked those small (though very significant) details that morning. It was cloudy, so I putzed around on the computer (procrastination at its best) and waited for the sunshine to emerge. The temps were forecast to be in the 70's and I was eager to have a nice run in the beautiful spring weather. I took my time in getting the running clothes on, and had a quick bowl of oatmeal and glass of water before heading out (which wasn't until just after 11:00).
As I started on my run, I noticed my upper hamstrings were a bit stiff. I had done a hill-repeat workout on Thursday evening; it wasn't a very long workout, but a bit intense. These stiff muscles were probably a result of that, and I assumed they would loosen up after the first few miles (wrong!). The first few miles drudged on, which is typical for me, so I just kept going, waiting for the magic to appear around mile 3 or 4, usually when all stiffness disappears and my body kicks into "robotic mode" and just goes on its own.
The sunshine was beautiful, but there was a strong wind coming out of the south. Not gusts of wind, but continuous wind. The wind was so powerful, I could feel it from every direction, even the cross wind was tough to battle against. That's when it (finally) occurred to me that I probably should have eaten more than a bowl of oatmeal. If I would have left the house a couple hours earlier, this wouldn't have been a problem, but waiting around until 11:00 with only a bowl of oatmeal in my stomach (and not much water) was pretty risky.
Around mile 4, I could feel the early signs of fatigue beginning. I have done a few races where I have had major carb crashes, and I know what the early signs of that feel like. Running 4 miles is not a big feat, but factoring in the wind made it much more of a challenge than normal. I could feel my form starting to suffer, so I slowed down and walked briefly to catch my breath. I continued on, finished mile 5, and walked a few times before finishing mile 6 at my house.
I went inside, and grabbed a granola bar and had some Nuun water. I also ate a few fruit snacks. I was surprised I made it back in less than an hour. I didn't have my watch with me, so I had no idea what my pace was. Apparently, I was running harder than I thought, since I was under a 10-minute pace even with the intermittent walking. I grabbed a couple of Gu energy chews and headed back out.
Miles 7 and 8 went pretty smooth, although my hamstrings continued to feel a little tight. Similar to the other times where I have carb crashed while running, my muscles didn't feel too much strain but my energy level took a nose dive. I walked briefly before mile 9, then walked about the last half of mile 10. Although my legs didn't feel tired, I could tell my form was a mess from the lack of energy, so I allowed myself to walk more than I really wanted to. I was doing the Cancer Ends With Me 10-mile Challenge, a virtual run. I had no one to impress but my ego, but I was determined to do a solid 10 miles instead of just quitting after mile 6.
So, here's what I learned from this:
1--even if it's not a "real" race, food, fuel and hydration still need to be utilized as if it were
2--do not discount Momma N. Even though I love running in the heat of summer, the heat and humidity may appear as early as April and really catch you off guard after a cold winter
3--no matter how many times you have run a certain distance (like 10 miles, for example), respect the distance and do not take it for granted
4--Not every run or race will be ideal or fun. Use the not-so-fun runs as valuable conquests on your journey to the next great run, you will appreciate the victory much more in doing so.
I have a half marathon in two weeks, and I am ready. I may or may not do a long run next weekend. I really have nothing to gain by doing one, so I'll probably just do some moderate runs (5-7 miles) to keep things ready for race day on April 27th. Life is Good!
Have you ever had a bad run followed by a great race?