Well, I ran two long training runs this past weekend and I lived to tell about it! Barely!
The two words that best sum up my 5.5 hour training run on Saturday, “fucking brutal!” And no, I’m not being dramatic, actually if there was a level of agony below fucking brutal, that is the level I was running at for over half of my long run. The humidity, heat and sun were the daggers to my mental and physical capabilities.
Here is a quick recap of the highlights, or low lights as they should be called.
- I had strategically parked my car, and developed a route in a strategic way that I was able to crew for myself for the whole run and I didn’t need Brian. But about one hour into my run, my support crew (AKA Brian) showed up on the route with cowbell in hand. I would soon find out how damn glad I was that he was out on the route with me.
- Forty-five minutes into my run I stopped at a gas station and chatted briefly with two elderly gentlemen who were walking but stopped at the station for coffee. When they asked what I was doing for the day and after I told them I was running for 5.5 hours, they were a bit concerned. But I reassured them I was being safe. There concern was sweet.
- These gentlemen weren’t my only support from strangers, a woman who I ran past on the sidewalk smiled and clapped for me. I found that endearing and yet odd. She had no idea how long or how far I was running. For all she knew I was out for a 2-mile jog. Would she have clapped for me if I was only running for 2 miles compared to 5.5 hours?
- As I mentioned earlier that I had my car positioned so I could run a few different out-n-backs and refuel when I got back to the car. Well, thankfully Brian was out on the route as I needed much, much more support than anticipated.
- I froze wet wash cloths and towels and used them about every hour to cool off. They were small, cool gifts from god and I thank my co-worker Laura for the idea.
- I was putting ice cubes in my water bottles but they didn’t last very long, Melted in less than a minute.
- Did pretty well as far as fuel goes. I used energy gels, rice wraps and even managed to throw in a handful of Doritos into the mix. I told you guys that I was going to find a way to eat Doritos on the run!
- Listened to an audiobook and that helped time tick away. You really have to pay attention to what you are listening to or you’ll miss too much and you’ll be lost. Between having to re-listen to a few chapters twice and not listening to the book the last 2 hours, I still managed to get through almost 20 chapters of the book. I’d be curious to see if I could actually get through an entire book in one long run. Okay, maybe I don’t want to find that out, that could be really depressing if I could.
- As I was running early, before the sun got too high in sky and before the humidity really got nasty, I was trying to rank how I felt. On a scale of 1-10, I was at a 5. I figured that was pretty good with all things considered.
- And then that 5 started falling.
- Falling fast.
- The heat, oh god, the heat.
- I had fallen to a 2 when I stopped under a tiny tree to try to get a bit of shade. I was doubled over huffing and puffing. All I wanted to do was stop. Just stop running. “I can’t make it”, ran through my head more than once.
- Then those words past my lips. The dreaded and never spoken, “I can’t do this” was muttered. Once my thoughts actually turn into words… that’s scary.
- I sat there, doubled over with exhaustion, with A LOT more to run and I didn’t know what to do. I knew I had to stop. I couldn’t go any farther.
- And that’s when I started running once again, once again going “just a bit farther”.
- I questioned my ability to not only finish this training run, but to finish the Fall 50. If I couldn’t even get through 5.5 hours, how the hell was I going to get through a run that could take me 14-15 hours to complete?
- I contemplated this while I ran.
- And then I stopped again. And this is when my “2”, became a “1”. I couldn’t even make it 2 minutes without stopping. I was so so so overheated.
- Oh yeah, did I mention I had also hyperventilated twice? I was on the side of the road, under a tree, with my husband watching and hyperventilating as the cars whizzed past.
- This was just as good of a time as any to start crying. Yep, on top of everything else, I was now crying. I’m not sure if Brian knew I was crying because the tears mixed so well with the constant sweat dripping down my face that you really couldn’t tell what was tears and what was sweat.
- So let’s picture this, I had over 1.5 hours yet to run, it was only getting hotter, and more humid, shade was basically nonexistent, I’m hyperventilating and crying on the side of the road…. not exactly the picture of someone doing something epic.
- At this point, I tried to think about my options. I knew I HAD TO STOP RUNNING, I knew I could not go on because I would not make it.
- And then I started running again.
- I managed to pull myself together a bit and ticked off another 45 minutes of running.
- I only had 45 minutes left, which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a lifetime of running when all you want to do is stop. And it’s this time when I see a cute, tiny, peppy girl running, who was probably only running 3 miles total and sure as hell didn’t have 4 hours and 45 minutes under belt, came towards us and with all her perkiness said, “hi”. WTF?!! How dare she?! She might as well have called me a whore and spit on me because her perky “hi” was about to get her beat down. If I wasn’t so tired I would have tackled her and beat the cheer right out of her. And I pretty much said this to Brian, which I think were the first words I said to Brian in hours of running together. And in Brian’s words…. “that’s my girl”. That’s when he knew I was going to finish my long run… if I still had enough in me to hate this total stranger, I still had enough “grit” in me to finish.
- And my total and utter hatred for this peppy girl, should be a warning for anyone who’s going to come out and support me during the Fall 50… don’t offer happy, cheery support. Don’t do it. I beg of you, don’t. Just ask Brian. He stood there silent as I cried and hyperventilated on the side of the road. And that was EXACTLY what I needed. There was nothing he could have said that would have been acceptable at that moment, nothing. Silence was exactly what I needed and he knew it. And that’s why I love him!
- I ended up running 27.25 miles and 5.5 hours. Granted it took me almost 7 hours to run 5.5 hours (don’t ask) but I did it. It was one of the toughest runs – if not the toughest – run I’ve ever run (San Diego is still right up there, but I think this run may have dethroned San Diego as the worst run ever).
I had a 2.5 hour run on Sunday, but the shorter distance, and much-needed shade provided by the route I ran, basically makes Sunday’s run forgettable in my mind. What wasn’t forgettable was my crew. And by crew, I once again mean Brian. Not only did I wake him up at 4:45am so we could drive to Door County for my run, but he sacrificed his own workout to bike alongside of me and offer support. I never in a million years imagined I’d need as much support during my training runs as I do. I thought it would be like any other year when I ran on my own (albeit a lot longer distances), that I’d be pretty self-sufficient, but it’s not the case. This training is kicking my ass and I really needed Brian this week both for physical support as well as mental and emotional support too.
So, while I hit a low of “1” during my run on Saturday, I was able to crawl through that dark hole and I eventually came out the other side. I’m not sure what next week’s 6.5 run will hold for me or any of the training runs after that, and I sure don’t know what the Fall 50 holds for me. But what I do know is I fought like hell to finish that run and I couldn’t be more proud that I did.
I was too stubborn to quit and I did something epic!
Until next time,