I've run 4 marathons. I've done numerous really long runs in preparation for those 4 marathons. Despite this and despite knowing that I can go out and do it again, I find it's hard to get my brain to turn off so I can go to sleep before said long runs. It's like even though I KNOW I can do it and that I'll be fine, there's something in me that's nervous.
And really, running 18 miles is a heck of a big deal. It's not just a walk in the park.
So I wasn't really surprised that I had a hard time falling asleep Saturday night. I was super tired, but I just couldn't manage to drift off until around midnight.
This meant that my 4:45am alarm came quickly. It also meant I didn't get as much sleep as I would have liked, but what can you do?
I got ready, ate some yogurt and drove to the meeting place in Nashville for the Striders training run. I'm really enjoying getting to do group training runs. Sure, I end up running with just 1-2 others, but it's nice to know that there are a bunch of other people out there trying to get a long run done.
I also love that they provide water/Gatorade stops.
It was about 75 or so at 6am, but the humidity for the day was already around 87%. Ugh. The temperature rose to about 80 by 9 or so, and while none of this sounds too bad you have to keep in mind that the humidity made it feel a LOT hotter.
I decided to try out the salt capsules I had ordered. I honestly haven't had a chance to do so since we had such a mild July, but I knew this would be a hot and sweaty run. I took one capsule as we started, and then I took another one each hour. I was still drenched in sweat by the end of the run (as in not a dry piece of cloth on me!), but I didn't feel anywhere near as drained as I do when I run in this kind of heat, especially this kind of distance. Am I positive that had to do with the salt capsules? No. But I do think they may have helped, and they definitely didn't seem to hurt.
I also ran with Sports Beans. I have found that I really like this WAY better than gels. It's almost like eating candy. Every 4 miles or so I'll eat a handful along with some water or Gatorade.
I chose to run with one of my fuel belt bottles in my hand. Normally I hate running with something in my hand, but I find that since these bottles are smaller they don't bother me as much. Plus, I knew that I'd want some water in between the water stops, and I'm SO glad I carried it.
The first water stop came around mile 4. I had hardly drank any of my water, but I refilled it and drank a glass of Gatorade to wash down my sports beans. I was warm, but I still felt pretty good.
I ran with my pal Matt, and we chatted about odds and ends for a while. When we reached the stop at mile 8, I had drank all my water and was glad to get a refill and to drink a cup of Gatorade.
We both agreed that the hills in the first 8-10 miles were pretty tough. I don't know how this happens, but it definitely seemed like we went up a lot more than we went down. I had hoped to keep an average 10:00 minute mile pace, but between the hills and the heat I was settling for slower.
There was a larger gap between water stops this time, so I was being very careful to ration my water. Fortunately, we found ourselves on more gently rolling hills that didn't require as much effort. This was great since the sun was getting higher and hotter. We took a short walk break so that Matt could eat a granola bar, and I think my legs were thankful for a little rest.
I finished off my water when I knew we were closing in on the next water stop. I felt a little disgruntled that it wasn't until mile 14, but it worked out ok. I also really had to use the bathroom. I thought this was odd because I had been sweating a ton and hadn't been overdrinking as far as I knew, but boy I had to go! Over that last mile before we made it to the next stop, I realized that I was starting to feel kind of numb down there. I've never experienced that before, and I wonder if it was that my body was getting tired of holding it. It kind of unnerved me a bit because the last thing I wanted was to pee on myself because I couldn't feel it to hold it or something.
I was so thankful to be able to go take care of that inside of the Kroger, and I immediately felt just fine. No more numbness. It was still weird though.
I told Matt to head on since I needed to stop for the bathroom, but he was super kind and waited for me. It really is better to have someone to run with... sure, you may not talk the whole time, but just the presence of another person is enough to keep you running at times.
I drank two cups of Gatorade because I was so hot and thirsty, and I refilled my water bottle.
I knew that the last 4 miles were going to be tough. My feet were tired, but I felt pretty good. I was mostly just hot. We had to run most of that last 4 miles down West End Avenue. A lot of it was uphill. It was somewhere along here that I apologized that I wasn't chatty any more. I just didn't have the extra energy for talking.
I also took off my shirt and ran in just my sports bra. I really am not a fan of doing that, but I was so hot and my shirt was so wet with sweat and heavy that I didn't even care I was running along one of the busiest roads in Nashville in just a sports bra. It felt so much better to get a bit of a breeze on me. (I may have gone 30-40 minutes in just my sports bra, and when I got home I found that I had a noticeable tan line. Oh well.)
The next water stop thankfully came quickly at mile 16. The water and the Gatorade were actually ICE COLD instead of just kinda cool like it'd been so far. I don't even remember how many glasses I drank. I didn't even care if I was drinking too much. I just knew I needed it and that surely with 2 miles to go it wouldn't bother me if I had too much. I refilled the water bottle (yep, I'd already polished it off since the last stop 2 miles ago) and headed on.
I was ready to be done. It was hot and humid, and the hills had made my legs quite tired. We weren't done with them yet as we ran up another hill or two before heading back to the finish.
I can't tell you how nice it was to be done. I poured cold water down my neck. I tried to stretch a bit. And finally I just got in the car and headed on. My legs were definitely tired. I grabbed some ice, took my ice bath and shower, had a snack and some chocolate milk and then crashed for 3 hours.
I had to visit my grandparents last night. This isn't a physical task by any means, but I found myself struggling to get in and out of the car and up and down from the dinner table.
I crashed hard last night and ended up sleeping 12 hours! I definitely feel well rested today and it's obvious my body just needed that extra rest.
My legs are still a little achy today. I did some gentle cycling and then stretching, which definitely helped. I know that this is normal. My legs just don't bounce back overnight from such a long and hilly run.
Overall, I ran the 18 miles in 3:19:00. However, that did include lingering at the four water stops, a short walk break and a short bathroom break. Between that and the heat and hills, I'll take the 11:00 minute mile average pace I ended up with. They say that you need to slow down 10-20% in the heat anyways, so I was spot on with that one.
I'm not going to lie... I'm already praying for really cool weather in Chicago!
(The race report about Friday's 5K is coming soon. I'm just waiting on them to post results. And yes, it's really super lame that they haven't posted them yet!)