Monday, July 26, 2010

Surviving 14...Barely

Saturday was scheduled to be my first "really long" run. I'd never run 14 miles before--the half marathon in May was my previous farthest run ever. So, in that way I was kind of excited to break new ground. I did everything I could think of to prepare. I ate a little extra at breakfast. I packed extra Hammer gels, cash in case I needed to call a cab, (kidding...mostly), and iPod in my Spibelt belt (first time using that piece of gear on a run). On the other hand, I was less than thrilled about the conditions I'd be facing. StL was under a "heat warning" last week, and the expected heat index for Saturday was around 111F. I was out the door by 5:30 a.m. to beat the heat. I'd have been out even earlier, but the sunrise wasn't until 5:50-something as it was and I'm not super comfortable running alone in the dark.

And, let me tell you, it was HOTTTT! Yes, before the sun had even risen, it was 86 degrees with 70%+ humidity. But, I was practicing positive self-talk, "You can totally do this--You're so much stronger than you think!" The first 5 miles were actually pretty good. Yes, it was steamy, but my legs felt good, I was staying hydrated, and the thought that I was about 1/3 done didn't phase me. I was super annoyed that my belt, though it did not bounce, would not stay down on my hips no matter how snugly I fastened it...

Then, I think I made a poor decision from a mental perspective. At Forest Park, instead of running clockwise around the park as I usually do, I decided to go counter-clockwise. Doesn't sound like a big deal. In fact, it actually gets the hills out of the way sooner. But, it also put me on the less shady side of the park when the sun was well up and blazing. Not to mention there are multiple water fountains in the park that are barely working (water dribbling out in a way that can't fill a water bottle) or not working at all. By the time I made it back to my starting point in the park about 11 miles into my run, I was feeling it, and not in a good way! Note to self: don't try new things on long runs. Stick with the familiar.

I took my last gel, chugged some water, and set off for home. The way home is uphill. Since I took up running, I've discovered my neighborhood is in some kind of hole. The route I chose was fairly shaded, but I couldn't get over my exhaustion. I took several walk breaks on those last 3 miles. What really killed me was the couple of blocks where I was directly in the sun. I had on sunscreen, but it seriously felt like my skin was going to go up in flames. When my Garmin finally beeped for that 14th mile, I stumbled to a walk and hightailed it for the house.

Once inside, I felt like I was going to pass out. Everything was fuzzy around the edges, and throwing up wasn't out of the question. This was followed by chills. Not good. I splashed water on my face, grabbed some Gatorade and an oatmeal cookie and laid on the floor for awhile before I stretched out. Within an hour, I felt okay again. But, wow!

The difficulty of that run really shook my confidence. Not in that I don't think my body can handle the mileage. I feel like 14 wouldn't have been such a big deal if the conditions had been better. But, I'm concerned because temperatures aren't going to get any better until late September at least. Can I still get my long runs in with such heat? I can leave early, but let's be honest...I'm a SLOOOOOOW runner. 15+ miles is just going to take me awhile. So, inevitably the sun will be well up and hot before I'm finished. I don't want to feel like that every weekend. I thought I was going to black out (and/or sit on the curb and cry for awhile). And, without a gym (still renovating from fire/flood), I don't have a treadmill option readily available. It's outside or nowhere. My next long run is Friday (moving up all my runs by a day this week b/c I'm going out of town this weekend), and just being honest, I'm scared! And, dare I say it, what if it's freakishly hot the day of the marathon...a random blazing hot day has been known to happen in October in the Midwest.

I'm looking for a way to get back into a positive mental state. But, not by being blindly optimistic. I need a plan. Ideas? Have you felt like giving up during training? How'd you overcome it?

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  1. You can do it Angie. Did you know that many marathon runners feel like throwing up at the end. Many have a recovery time like you did at first. Ask the cross country runners. Many of them throw up. Your body just needs to get past that point and get used to it. You can do it. I'm sorry it was so hot though. The heat doesn't help anything. When will you reach the full marathon length? Is it possible to stretch out your training just a bit and do another week of 14 miles? Good luck.

  2. Well remember that StL is way hotter than Chicago, so let's hope that the marathon will have that nice lake breeze happening :)

  3. Thanks for the encouragement! My training plan is 18 weeks going straight into the marathon, so I don't have a lot of leeway to reduce mileage. Just have to take it slow, I guess.