Yesterday was my first ultra distance run, as in longer than a marathon. I’m trying really hard not to add the caveat that it was only a 28 mile run, and therefore BARELY longer than a marathon, but with enough repetition I think I can silence that little voice. But it’s hard to be positive sometimes, even when it’s something to be proud of. I mean, I ran 28 fucking miles yesterday! And then biked to work. Someday I’ll be able to do my long runs and then have the day to relax and recover…
Anyways. I hit some country roads on a route given to me by my friend Rachel where she has done some of her 50K length runs. The positive side, country roads are amazing for their almost exact length. I didn’t even have to check my watch all that often, I just knew when I hit another road marker, that it had been a mile. Very helpful, especially when I began to drag a bit in the high teens. The rollers out there should be really good practice for Lean Horse, as that’s mostly crushed gravel, country road type terrain so it was good to get my feet on that. I should get out there at least once more before the race for another long run.
For some reason, the first seven miles were just horrible. Maybe it was the four hours of sleep I’d gotten the night before, but they just were not very fun. On a side note, I don’t know how excited I am to be getting comfortable doing long runs on basically no sleep. On the one hand, I think it simulates pre-race day quite well as at least for the marathon I slept like crap, but in the back of my mind I always wonder, if I can do 28 miles on 4 or so hours of sleep, how well would I have done on a full 8? But I digress.
The second seven miles were fantastic. Partly because I was rushing to get back to my car as I had promised my wife that I would text her when I was done with each loop so she wouldn’t worry. I really don’t like carrying a phone with me when I run, although if I ever get around to getting a pack then that will probably change.
Other than having to send a text with wet hands, I think the stops at my vehicle went pretty quickly, grabbed my PB&J burritos and water and headed out in a couple minutes. I was surprised at how well I did without gels, relying only only peanut butter and jelly wrapped in a tortilla, and 1 Clif bar on my final few miles.
My pace overall was nice and slow, hovering around 10-11 minute miles, which seems really slow to me, but I felt good for almost the whole run, until I was running out of water and the sun got real high. When I first got to the church I parked at, and was grabbing my gear, I noticed my handheld had leaked out completely all over the floor of my vehicle. Guess how much water would have probably been just enough to hit 30 miles? (hint: about 16 ounces). But that’s the nature of running, learning to adapt.
Which is where I dropped the ball BIG TIME. I can pinpoint the moment actually, when my mind just collapsed. I was running on what was supposed to be about an 8 mile loop. I hit 8 miles and was not where I thought I should be. Which is odd as I’d never been out there before so really had no idea where I should be. But, I kept moving forward, figuring I just had a bit more to go. The road I was on was really terrible, a low maintenance one, with massive puddles and ruts and stuff. If it’d been earlier or I was more cognizant of what I was doing, it would’ve been really fun to run and splash through those puddles. Instead I slogged, trying to convince myself that it was just a bit further. Which it was.
But by that point, I had walked several miles and time had taken its toll. And I had to get back to town so my wife could take our car and get to work. On the plus side, the 8 miles had turned to 10, so I really only had 6 more to go. A quick out and back I had figured. 2 miles out after stopping the car and my mind had turned to soup. It was hot, I was almost out of water, and I wanted to be done. It was horrid.
But there’s lessons to be learned here. As Rachel pointed out, it was my first long run of this type, and this far. So I need to be proud of what I did, even if it wasn’t what I had hoped for. 28 isn’t that far from 30. And my hope, the one that I had almost immediately after I stopped my watch, was that this will hopefully be a push when it comes to Lean Horse that when I hit a low spot, I won’t quit. In the mean time, I need to work on my mind and embrace positivity. On the plus side, I have a new keg of homebrew and I’m done with Hell Month, so things are looking up, I just need to recognize and accept that. Here’s hoping…