Sunday, August 11, 2013

14 Miles

I literally, truly have no idea why I am doing this sometimes.  I feel like a psychotic masochist, but no more so than I did yesterday.

I had a 14 mile scheduled, and decided earlier in the week that I was going to run it on my own and skip the training group this week.  And for once in my life, I had my shit together with a capital T for my run.  I went to Dick's Sporting Goods and bought some more tech food, as well as a really sweet half gallon thermos.  Since I would not have the luxury of the TNT aid stations I planned to use my car as an "aid station" in a central location in my route, and to stash some tech food and electrolyte water to have a break at mile 7.  I laid out all of my gear the night before, I planned my route out, I planned which miles I was going to eat my tech food at, I made refrigerator oatmeal with a chopped date in it to have something quick to grab for breakfast.   I even remembered to get some bags of ice for my ice bath after the run. I actually managed to get a pretty good night's sleep the night before, and do yoga the next morning.  In hindsight, I should have probably skipped the yoga so that I could have started my run earlier, but the idiot local weather forecasters led me to believe that the temperatures were going to stay in the 60's for the morning, and that we were going to even get rain!  I trusted the forecast, which was my first mistake, so I probably got started around 7:45.

I parked at my work parking lot and was super proud of myself.  I had my thermos filled with icy cold electrolyte water, I had a bag with my tech food (my first "dose" was in my running pack), a half teaspoon of sea salt, and had my written out plan for my run with me.  The plan was to do my first loop, (which would be about 7 miles and conveniently ended at the car) stop to use the bathroom at the office, have some salt, eat my second batch of tech food and refill my water bottle.  So, I started off feeling confident and prepared, and I honestly felt pretty good.  I ran almost 2 miles straight without stopping to walk, my legs felt pretty good, and my breathing was ok.  What wasn't ok was the weather.  I noticed right away how horribly humid it was, and it was nowhere near 60 degrees.  Not only was it not raining, but there were very few clouds, and the sun was beating down on me hardcore.  I hit the 3 mile mark and was already pretty hot and miserable, but I thought that maybe the weather would change and I would at least get some cloud cover.  My Garmin beeped to signal mile 4, so I paused it to have my first dose of Gu.  I thought maybe it would give me a little boost.  It kind of did, and I kept going on.

Instead of cloud cover moving in, it stayed clear, and I could feel it getting hotter and hotter.  I looked down at my weather app and saw that it was 70 degrees at 9 am already, and my heart sank.  I knew I was in for the bitch of all bitches with this run, but I really had no choice but to keep going.

As planned, I reached the office around mile 7 and popped in really quickly to use the bathroom.  I will say that it was awesome to have a planned place to use the bathroom, because it meant that I didn't restrict myself from having water along my route.  I find that normally I will barely drink water along the way because I'm scared that I will have to pee but have nowhere to do it!  This is especially the case with the runs with TNT, since it seems they always have these odd routes with no bathrooms.  While in the bathroom, I was able to wash my face and arms with cold water, and also dumped a cup of ice cold water over my head.  It was super refreshing and gave me a bit of a boost.  I stopped at the car, ate some Cliff Bloks and had a pinch of salt.  The thermos was still chock full of ice, so the electrolyte water I had in there pretty much tasted like the best thing ever.  I refilled my water bottle with electrolyte water and plenty of ice, and started the second and final loop.  The break revived me quite a bit, and I felt a little more confident about finishing up.  That feeling lasted until about mile 10.

I cannot describe how hot it was.  It was probably 76 degrees, which doesn't sound like a lot, but when the sun is beating down on you, the humidity is thick in the air and you're surrounded by nothing but concrete and asphalt, it feels like 100.  I am not much of a crier, but I just wanted to stop and sob right there on the sidewalk.  My legs began breaking down on me, just like they did last week, and every single step was agony.  I mentally railed at the world.  I cussed the weather, the weather forecasters, and wished very ill will on the people who love heat and sun.  I tried to think about ice and snow, about crisp fall days, the icy run I did on New Year's Day, but thinking about that just made me sad because I can't turn time forward to that weather.  I began sprinting for short bursts just to try to get things over with, and was manically whispering over and over to myself, "You can do this."  Thank God no one was around me, because they would have called authorities and put me in a room next to Amanda Bynes.  And this is one of the many examples of why I don't like to run with others, so that I can mumble to myself like a crazy person!

My Garmin beeped to signal mile 11, which meant that I got to have another shot of tech food.  This time I had a mocha flavored Cliff Shot, which was actually pretty tasty.  I felt a tiny bit revived, and began running again.  Well, I say running, but it was pretty much an old man shuffle at that point.  With 3 miles left to go, I began having the worst calf cramps of my life, especially in my right calf.  Whenever I would run or even walk fast, my calf got Charley horse level cramps.  For the next three miles I alternated painful shuffling, loud F bombs, and stopping to stretch and rub my calves, hoping that I could coax my muscles to relax.  It just wasn't to be, my legs were just in complete breakdown on me.  I have never been that psychologically distressed in my life, especially because I could not control any of the things that were making my life a living hell.

I have never, ever been so happy to see the parking lot of where I work.  Hearing my Garmin beep at the 14 mile mark was like hearing angels sing.  I stumbled to my car and gulped down 16 ounces of ice cold electrolyte water until it felt like someone drove a railroad spike into my brain.

This is a woman who is super happy to have air conditioning blowing full blast into her face.  Somehow I'm smiling, even though I wanted to die.  And sorry for the wonk eyes, I'm still trying to figure out my new phone's camera!

So, as far as pace and all of that, here is the damage:

I have to admit, I am pretty terrified when I look at this pace.  When you get the unicorns, ponies and "yay you did 14 miles" out of the way, I pretty much did a 15 minute pace.  I did some math, and if shit stays like this, it will take me about 7 hours to do the marathon.  I mean....7 hours of anything (other than sleeping or a Breaking Bad marathon), is going to be horrific.  And I honestly don't know what to do.  My speed is my speed, and I go just about as fast as my chubby body and bum feet allow me.  What if I'm one of those gomers who is the last person on the course?  What if they're packing up the marathon and I'm like barely finished?  And the other thing that is scaring the shit out of me is my body.  My legs have consistently failed on me now 2 weeks in a row around the 12 mile mark.  Um, that's not even halfway through the full, what the hell happens when I'm in the middle of the race and this happens?  I mean are the next 12-13 miles just agony and leg cramps?  Am I literally going to have to crawl to the finish line?  I am truly scared of that most of all.

I do feel like the weather is really screwing me in a way.  If it were colder, I do think I'd be able to do more running and be a little faster.  But when the sun is beating down on me, I simply can't bear it.  It will be cool on race day, so the odds will be in my favor.  Until then though, I've got like 2 months of utter misery left, and it's so depressing.  I mean, I do feel proud of myself for sticking it out and finishing, but I do feel a little beaten down, and I am dreading my future runs.  I hate that, but there it is.

I always hate leaving a blog post on a depressing note, so here is a picture of Molly.  She is fully vested in her retirement, and is absolutely unimpressed by running.  I have tried running with her twice, and she looked at me like she'd rather be skinned alive than go on a jog.  I'm just going to let her do what she does best, which is sleep in ridiculously awkward positions with a fantastic display of vampire teeth:


  1. You are a rockstar. Seriously. That is a long time to be out there by yourself! The good thing about your race is that there will be other people there, and that will help motivate you, and push you a little faster. Does your race have a time limit? A lot of them are around the 6 or 7 hour mark, so you should be fine, but you might want to check just so you know.

    As for your calves... I have no idea. Mine suck a lot of the time, but usually if I stretch really well after a run and/or use The Stick before I start a run, they do ok. Would stopping to stretch during a run help, maybe? Or taking a walk break?

    1. Thanks Diana! On the PDX site it basically says that if you're around the 22nd mile at the 6 hour mark, they are going to start booting you to the sidewalk. You even get a different finish line. Reading that was sobering and definitely got me all kinds of anxious, so I am motivated to get faster. I'd be beyond proud of myself if I finished in 5 or 5.5 hours. We shall see, that's what I'm shooting for.

      The calf thing is totally new for me. I've never really experienced this until the last couple of weeks on these longer runs. I did stop to stretch several times (I even tried to roll my calves with my water bottle), but it just continued to seize up. I'm hoping that my body will just accept these longer distances, or at least be used to them!