Determined to get my last long run in before the race, regardless of whether or not I got the rest of the week's training runs in, I set out yesterday morning around 11am for a 10 miler. I wasn't concerned about the cold, as I made sure to put the appropriate light layers on which would keep me warm without making it too hot. I donned Gary the Garmin to help me keep track of the distance and Shufalufagus (my Ipod shuffle) to keep me entertained. I promised myself that I would only keep track of my distance with Gary and pay no mind to the pace. I knew I need to take this slow and steady if I was going to make it the full 10 miles and still have some energy left for the rest of the day. I even brought along a small granola bar to eat during the run, to help keep me going.
Things started off nicely. Although it was mostly cloudy, there was enough sun peaking through to lift my spirits and give me a positive vibe. Although I had no particular order the songs playing on Shufalufagus, it seemed like they were hand picked to help me keep that slow but steady pace I was striving for. I believed that my breakfast of oatmeal, orange juice, and a couple of cups of joe an hour or so before setting out were really fueling my stride. I was glad to be out on this run. I was enjoying the time to myself and refused to think about the miles that lay ahead. I was just running to be running and feeling good.
Somewhere around mile 2, I checked Gary to make sure I was where I thought I was mileage-wise when I saw the low battery warning. Uh oh. It was hard not to think about the miles that lay ahead when I was afraid that Gary was going to give out on me at some point during the run. I had never run a 10 mile route before, so I had no way of truly gaging how far I needed to go to make it past about 7.25 miles. I decided to stick to my known 7.25 mile route just in case, and then I could figure out the rest from there, even if it meant finishing up on the treadmill.
It took me about another mile to get that worked out in my head, and things were still going pretty well otherwise. As I neared a gas station and I figured it'd be a good idea to take a potty break since I was close to being halfway done (about 4 miles in) and I wouldn't be near another restroom for at least another 3 or 4 miles. I also decided to have my granola bar around the 5 mile mark.
Gary hung in there and when I checked to see if I had hit 5 miles yet (I couldn't hear the beep that denotes a completed lap due to the sleeves on my heavy running jacket) I saw that I had hit 5.17 miles so now would be a good time to walk and eat my snack. I was not hungry and I could have used some water to wash that granola bar down. It was dry and chewy and I wasn't enjoying eating it all. This tiny granola bar seemed to be taking forever to get chewed and swallowed.
I finally got it down and started running again only to find that now my legs suddenly felt like lead. I thought that walking break was going to refresh me, but all it seemed to do was alert my body that I was tired. Then I started thinking about how I was barely halfway done. I slowed my pace way down, trying to conserve what little energy I had and hoped that the granola bar would kick in soon.
Around mile 6.5 it kicked in, but not in the way I had hoped. My stomach started cramping up and I cursed the fact that I was in a residential neighborhood a good 1.5 miles away from my own house. Add to that, I was trying to run uphill. I decided to walk the hill, give my stomach a chance to relax, and then pick up running again on the downhill. I ended up having to alternate running and walking just to get through the digestive discomfort and none of the walking breaks seemed to give me the rest I needed to prevent my feet from feeling like cinder blocks when I picked up running again.
Somewhere around 7.5 miles, I started to feel a little lighter. My stomach was still a bit of an issue, but I felt like I had a blast of energy and I wondered if I had passed the "wall" and gotten my 2nd wind. At this point, I was back in my own neighborhood and Gary was still alive and kicking. I started thinking that maybe I could finish this run strong after all and kept pushing. At about 8.5 miles, I was just down the street from my house and I knew that I could take another loop around the neighborhood and get pretty darn close to 10 miles while ending up right at my own driveway.
Then I turned the corner and saw my house. My stomach clenched again and I gave up. I decided to just go home. I was worn out and cursing that stupid granola bar. My legs were heavy and I just wanted to be done with it. I had been running for 2 hours and still wasn't finished with my 10 mile run. Thoughts of not finishing the half marathon filled my head as I walked up the front steps and into the front door. 8.75 miles done. Home.
I told Kyle about my run and that I was not happy with it. I got a drink of water and debated whether or not I would just give up on the idea of doing this particular half marathon. Then I decided I was going to try to finish the 10 miler on the treadmill. I am a bit of a perfectionist and man I hate giving up on something.
So I went downstairs, jumped on the treadmill and churned out the slowest 1.25 miles I think I have ever done. But I finished it.
And I was pretty tired and sore for a few hours afterward. But I took a nap and rested with my feet up for a little while and I'll tell you what--I felt fine.
Today, I feel fine. I have no injury, no lingering exhaustion, nothing to remind me of the 10 miles I slogged through yesterday. I feel okay and I truly think that I could have knocked out yesterday's long run with less pain and fatigue if I had eaten a bigger breakfast and drank more water beforehand. I know part of my sluggishness was due to missed training runs, but I didn't have anywhere near this difficulty when running my 9 miler a week before.
So I think I am going to take a stab at that half after all. I really want to race the distance and I have a game plan, thanks to some advice from my sister, who has completed several 10 mile races and half marathons in the past. I have the support of Kyle and my friends. And I am pretty darn stubborn, so giving up is not really an option.
Wish me luck.