Encouraging. That’s the feeling I’m taking away from yesterday’s 20-miler, my longest training run for the Bayshore marathon.
This training cycle started well. I hit most every run. But I delayed this 20-miler a week, and ran almost nothing for a week in between after an awful experience on my second-longest long run.
Two weeks ago, I did an 18-miler and I think I just pushed too hard. The run went great. I felt fantastic and ran like a champion. For the first 13.1, I missed my half-marathon PR by 20 seconds. I felt like Meb out there. Of course, breezing through 7:40s for 13 is a lot different than running 5s for 26.2, but you get the idea. To each their own pace.
After 13, I slowed to not burn out. I downshifted to 8:15s, still feeling great. I finished 18 in 2:23-something. It was a lot faster than I set out to do and a lot faster than I plan to run at Bayshore. That was my mistake.
I got home, grilled dinner for the family and couldn’t eat. About every fourth really long run (15-plus miles or so), I get GI distress after. I haven’t cracked the riddle of why. I mean, I know all about how my blood has more important work to do in my legs, leaving the guts to fend for themselves. I know that long runs tax the body. I just haven’t figured out why some long runs end in a gurgling belly and others don’t. Maybe that day the heat played a role. I’m sure pushing myself the way I did played a role.
About an hour after the run, the rumblings got the best of me. I vomited. I’ve heard of this happening to runners, but it’s never happened to me. I’ve read the most important time to feed your muscles for healing is the two hours or so after a long run. For the first time, I couldn’t do that. I didn’t eat until maybe four or five hours later and I paid for it in recovery. The next day, my legs were sore and achy. The day after, I felt like I’d run a full marathon — not 18 miles.
I think it’s the worst recovery I’ve had. I didn’t run until almost a week later. Not ideal during marathon training, but you do what you must.
Fast forward to yesterday. It was cool, but breezy. I ran in the middle of the afternoon and the temperature sat in the mid-50s. Perfect. I consciously dialed back — slow and steady. I stuck to my planned pace of 8:45 as tightly as I could. I only really slowed after about mile 17, but even then managed in the 9-9:15 range. During that slower period, I fought off some negative thoughts (“Why aren’t you stopping, idiot?”). But I think a lot of runners work through negativity in longer runs.
In many ways, it was the perfect long run. I finished in about 3:58. If I can repeat that performance at Bayshore, I’ll have more than an hour to do the final and toughest six miles and still finish before the 4 hour mark.
My only major criticism was fueling. I thought I had more gels, but apparently used the last during that awful 18-miler. My gel of choice during this training cycle is watermelon and I really missed it during yesterday’s run. But, I had a handful of dried apricots and a granola bar. They did the trick, but I might have performed better after mile 17 with the electrolytes in the gels. Mental note: Buy gels in the next week.
When I finished, I had gas left in the tank — probably enough to have done a whole marathon yesterday. I didn’t have too much trouble with stairs. No GI problems, I even had enough energy (after a brief nap) to party with friends last night (surprise!, Mrs. Blocletters).
Today, the legs feel great. I did some yoga to work off the tightness. All said, I think a week off did me well.
Bring it, Bayshore.