I spent Friday afternoon mapping out a route for my 22-mile run. I had planned to return to the City, repeating my 10-mile route from last weekend, but adding in 2 jaunts across the Golden Gate Bridge, with a few laps around Crissy Field mixed in. I was feeling good about the route, ate and hydrated well and was in bed at a reasonable hour. My natural body alarm clock is always on the money and rarely do I even need an alarm to get up, but on Saturday morning I did, even with 7 1/2 hours of sleep (my norm). My alarm went off at 5:30 am and my mind immediately went into stress mode calculating that I had "x" minutes to eat breakfast, "x" minutes to get dressed, "x" minutes to collect my gear, so I could make the 6:16 am BART train, which would then get me to Embarcadero at...."
It was just took much to even think about. I was tired and groggy and I knew if I started this long run with so many stresses going through my brain it would not go well. So I made the executive decision to just run straight from my front door. Once that was decided, I ate breakfast and then went back to sleep for another hour. I didn't expect to fall back asleep, because I'm a "once I'm up, I'm up" person, but I did and thankfully I had set my alarm clock again to go off an hour later. If I hadn't, who knows how long I would have slept - I can't remember the last time I needed more than 8 1/2 hrs of sleep.
My (new) goal was to be out the door by 7:30 am. I got up at 7:00 am, got dressed and was off and running by 7:37 am. The extra hour of sleep did wonders because I felt refreshed and was in a better state of mind for 22-miles.
My plan was to run 10-miles really slowly and I decided to run my regular 5-mile loop twice. It hadn't logged miles that slowly for a non-recovery run in a long time, and it was difficult to do. But I remembered something my friend Renee told me 2 weeks ago that went something like, "You have to run your long runs slowly. Your workout so hard during the week doing Speed Work and Tempo runs that by the time the weekend comes around, your legs aren't supposed to feel up to being fast." I kept thinking about that and once I accepted it, these first 10 miles really felt effortless. The only hiccup I had was trying to eat a gel while running. Apparently I have become incapable of doing this without making a huge mess. It was the only time I took a walk break during these first 10 miles - huge progress from not being able to run for more than 10-minutes straight 2 weeks ago.
I decided to run the last 12 miles on the same 5-mile loop 2 more times, but added a further mile each time making it 2 sets of a 6-mile loop. The plan for the rest of the 12 miles was a mixture of different paces and effort. Miles 11-14 were about a minute and a half faster than the first 10 miles, then a bunch of easy and pick-up miles mixed it. The plan forced me to stay engaged and pay attention to the current mile I was in instead of thinking ahead with thoughts like, "9 more miles to go." For once I was actually successful at staving off those kinds of daunting thoughts.
By the time I hit Mile 16 the sun was shining and the temps started to climb. It wasn't overly hot, but the lukewarm water from the water fountains just weren't cutting it. My loop started at a local park where every weekend there is Little League games going on, so I stopped by the concession and asked for ice. They didn't have any but they did have a slurpee machine so I skipped taking Endurolyte pills (I was taking them every hour) in favor of a slurpee. It was the best slurpee I ever had and got me through the last 6 miles.
I felt okay until about Mile 19, when I started to get tired. Then I got a pretty bad hamstring cramp on my "good side" at Mile 20. After the cramp I was limping so I knew I'd have to run/walk the last 2 miles, which were planned "easy" miles. It was probably the best decision that I could have made because eventually the cramp subsided and I ended up running the last .40 miles at a 9:35 pace, pretty good for Mile 22 if you ask me.
Once it was all said and done, I am so happy with how this went. When I told my Coach a couple of months ago that I wanted to do a 20+ mile run before Ogden, it was because I needed to remember what these miles felt like - physically and mentally. Every mile closer to 26.2 makes the race itself a little less scary.
And while this run may not have been my fastest 20+ miler, it's the one I feel the best about to date. My psyche is a bit stronger and while I was physically a bit gimpy yesterday, I felt so much better today. I enjoyed the miles, didn't get ahead of myself, or beat myself down and most importantly, I didn't feel like death at the end of the run, which has always been my goal for these long distances.