Not every run is gonna be a great run. Case in point: Saturday's 15-mile run.
But first let's rewind for a moment....
Have I mentioned there's this little event happening in July? Not "just" a race (or even a marathon), but an Ultra.
Do I feel prepared?
Mentally, yes. Bring it! I'm ready. I know it's gonna be a challenge to not only stay awake (did I mention this event starts at 11:00PM?), but also remain vertical and in constant motion. For 12 continuous hours.
Physically, though, I'm not quite ready yet (but that will change in the next several weeks). Currently, my longest training run has been 15 miles. Although this weekend's 15-miler was tough, I'm confident if it was race day I'd still be able to cross the finish line although it wouldn't be easy (nor without struggle) in the final hours.
This particular 12-hour Ultra will be much different than last year's 6-hour Ultra (that recap is HERE) in that I know there will need to be a lot more walking and a much slower pace. I was able to run the majority of last year's event, but a 12-hour event is a whole new beast to slay. Although my strategy is to run more than walk for the first six hours, I need to incorporate more walking intervals into my training.
Most of us know to stay ahead of the game with fuel and hydration, but the same goes for fatigue. It's important to walk and take breaks before you actually "need" them to conserve your energy, especially over the span of 12 hours.
My friend, Barb, drove over and we headed out at 7:45AM. A few miles in, and the "groove" still wasn't happening. I don't mind running in the heat (or subsequent humidity). I do not particularly love those conditions, but I'm not afraid of them.
Another factor was my right heel, which has been acting a bit wonky recently. It feels like a heel spur; I don't really notice it much when I'm running (mid-foot strike, thankfully), but simply standing or walking is another story. This is how the Plantar Fasciitis started in my left heel a year ago (almost to the exact date). As a result, I have been on "high alert." I have been taping my arch, wearing my (ugly) PF compression sleeve, and doing intermittent massage sessions on the affected area.
Although my heel didn't really hurt as I was running, my ankle and Achilles tendon did feel a bit stiff. Barb said her legs felt a bit heavy, too, so we each did our best to keep the other going. We did a 7-mile segment and looped back to my house for a water break. Our goal was to go 16 total miles, and I was (secretly) having doubts if I'd be able to finish that endeavor.
My husband joined us for the next part . Our town hosts a half marathon, and the course is a double-loop (of 6.5 miles) and goes right by my house. We decided to do one of the 6.5 mile loops, and then access how we were feeling afterwards.
Usually having others along with me helps keep me distracted form any immediate discomforts, but that was not happening this time. I continued to feel fatigued, and couldn't stop thinking about my heel. Ironically, I never felt like slowing down (much). I'm not especially fast...I can run anywhere between a 9:30-10:00 pace without much effort. But I do struggle with making myself run slower. It honestly takes more effort to run an "unnatural" slower pace than it does to simply maintain a moderate pace (at the risk of burnout).
Finally, around the 10-mile mark, I asked if we could walk briefly. We didn't walk far (not even the equivalent of a city block), but it was just enough to recharge my energy. We walked a few more times as we made our way around the course back to my house. We arrived back at our driveway, and had about 13.5 miles done. And, I honestly felt like I was done for the day.
I suggested grabbing a quick drink inside, then come back out and run a lap around the block to get my mile count to an even 14. The husband and Barb wanted to go a little farther, though, so I agreed to go along with them for a half mile then walk back. It turns out I did have a tiny bit of mojo remaining....I was able to run most of that final 1.5 mile segment after all. It was not easy, it was not fast, and it certainly was not pretty, but it was done. It wasn't the 16 miles that we'd planned, but it was still 15 miles. And we all were satisfied with that. I knew I would not be doing my wonky foot any favors by trying to grit out another mile on a hot day with an already fatigued body and (probably) altered gait. It's a good thing I'm not a "quantity" gal when it comes to mileage.
SIDEBAR- In counting up my mileage for May, I'm currently "sitting" at 93.5 miles (with two days still remaining). Even if I hold off and don't spank that 100-mile mark (which was never a goal anyways), this is still the highest monthly mileage I've had in a long time (like, since last year at this time). It may not be a coincidence my "good" foot is showing signs of strain. Ironically, last year's "bad" foot is feeling fine. Go figure.
By the next morning, all was feeling fine with my body. No shin splints, no post-long-run puffiness (dehydration), and very minimal heel achiness. Life is not bad. I'm grateful not only for the gift of running, but also for the ability to feel fine the day after an specially tough 15-miler.
So, do stay tuned. I'll be recapping a few more of my long runs as my Ultra draws near. Have you ever had a long, difficult run that left you feeling totally drained? Do you have difficulty running slower than what feels natural?
I'm linking with the wonderful gals Holly from HoHo Runs and Tricia from MissSippiPiddlin for the Weekly Wrap. Head over and check out their blogs, and read up on what everyone else has been doing!
I'm also adding a link to Marcia's Healthy Slice, hosted by Marcia and company. She's chatting about must-do races...head over and she what's on the roster! And check out all the other linked blogs as well.