Yesterday my training plan said to run 10 miles. Sure, no problem! It actually sounded fun to me- a chance to be alone, just me and the open road. My plan (yes, I always have a plan) was to wake up at 7:45am and be out the door by 8am and be done before it got too hot. Looks great on paper right? Well, here is the actuality of my 10 mile run.
I usually try to eat at least 2 hours before running, or playing soccer. So I ate a small dinner around 6pm on Friday night before the soccer game. The game was from 8-9pm, during which I probably played for around 40 minutes of the entire 48 minute game. If you have never played or watched indoor soccer this might seem insignificant. However, those 40 minutes were spent sprinting back and forth on a soccer field and burning a significant amount of calories. After the game I headed home and there was a bonfire and some friends gathered in my backyard. And marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate bars. So I ate a s'more. But just one. That is all I ate and when I went to bed I was hungry. It did not even cross my mind that would be a bad thing for my 10 mile run in the morning.
The other part of my plan was to test how my body performed without eating before a large run. Since I was not going to get up at 6am to eat breakfast, I was just going to use my energy gels to fuel my run and see what happened. I woke up as planned at 7:45am, got dressed and was looking for my ipod armband at 8am, pretty much on schedule. It took me 45 minutes to remember that it was in the tote we had taken camping last weekend. CRAP! So I didn't head out the door until 9am and it was already getting warm. I had taken the first gel at 8am assuming that I was about to leave. By this time I am in no mood to really think any of this through, just throw my ipod on and head out the door. In hindsight, I was actually hungry at that point.
The first 4 or 5 miles were no problem. I ran from my house over the Narrows Bridge which is a nice route and if I take a few different streets I can alter the length easily from 7-10 miles. I had planned to take my next gel at mile 6, which happened right as I got back over the bridge onto the Tacoma side. Right before the hill from hell. Someday I will run all the way up that dang hill, but yesterday was not the day. I ran/walked up the hill, then just could not get my running groove back. It was like there was absolutely no energy in my body at all. Which there really wasn't, considering I hadn't eaten for about 16 hours at that point.
From that point on, about miles 7-10, I ran on sheer will power. I barely remember it, and it certainly wasn't fun or relaxing. I couldn't get my mind to go to any of the usual "happy, distracting" places it goes when I run long distances. I am reading a memoir right now about a long distance runner- he wrote about one of his horrible long runs he did and how he was just angry at everything he saw. So I tried that for a while. I was mad at Tacoma for having so many hills. Mad at all the people happily driving in their air conditioned cars (it was HOT by that point). I would walk for about 30 seconds and be mad at how long it takes to WALK somewhere. Then, all of a sudden I got a burst of energy- I was only about 1.5 miles from home! I was going to make it!
I ran up and down a few side streets before I arrived at my house. My ipod said 9.87 miles- ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!! I was done, really wanted to be done. But I decided that was not good enough for me, no way was I going to go through all that and not actually complete a full 10 miles. So, off I went around the block one more time. When I got done I went inside and looked in the mirror. I was a sweaty mess, but the best part? I actually had white streaks of salt on my face. Now that, my friends, is HOT!
I learned a few lessons from this run. I learned that I have a lot more will power than I thought I had. I learned I am not a quitter, even when there really isn't anything to lose. But most importantly I learned that I should definitely eat before a long run, even if I have to wake up at 6am. Because that was a terrible run, the hardest one I have had to do yet. But it feels wonderful knowing that I finished it, and finished it well.
Here is a great line from the book I am reading called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
~"Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that's the essence of running, and a metaphor for life"
Are you exerting yourself to the fullest? I am.
Total distance: 10.5miles Total time: 1:44:47