Until today, I'd never run 13.1 miles. Since I've only trained for sprint and Olympic distance triathlons thus far, there was never a need for it. My long runs where usually 10 miles.
But since I needed to work towards my mileage commitment for Big Clyde's Weekend Challenge and I'm starting to think about next June's 70.3, I figured today would be a good chance to get a taste for the distance and rack up some miles.
I wouldn't say I was taking a cavalier approach to this run. But I did see it as a normal long run with an extra three miles, or maybe two back-to-back 10K's with a rounding error. What I've now realized though, is that 13.1 miles is a frickin' long way.
|Simple out and back. Kovas will take note that I ended up running on a portion of the Santa Ana River Trail, which I had told him last week that I would never run on again.|
At about 7 miles I came to an exit off the multi-use path so I took it and found a convenience store. The best thing they had to drink was Powerade. Not my first choice but good enough given the circumstances. I also needed something to eat, but this is where I ran into a problem. The shelves where literally empty. They didn't have any Clif Bars or Power Bars or even Tiger's Milk Bars. They didn't even have Snickers Bars or M&M's. All they had - get ready for it - where Skittles and some crazy generic version of Hostess Snoballs.
I bought the Powerade and the Snoballs, walked back up to the trail, and sat on a rock to fill my bottles and eat. As I took a bite into the first Snoball, I almost puked thinking about how I would probably be puking this thing back up in about 20 minutes. They were gruesome. They were gross. But between these and the Powerade, I felt much better and started running again. 6 miles to go.
Everything was fine until mile 11. I felt good, and more importantly, the Snoballs where staying down. But I was out of fluids again so I had to stop at a water fountain to fill up.
I don't know if it's because I stopped for too long or what, but when I started to run again it was pure torture. My quads tightened up and mentally I was ready to stop running. But I only had 2 miles to go and I was running through the heart of familiar territory. Between where I stood and where I was parked, I knew every rise, fall and turn of the path. I've run this path 100's of times. I didn't have that far to go, and I realized that if I quit then I wouldn't have anything to post on the blog tonight. So I kept going.
It's been said that the more desperate you are, the more the distance gremlins conspire against you and the longer the miles become. I don't believe this - regardless of one's desperation, a mile is 5280 feet. Rather, it's the FEET that get longer. As I mentioned, I run here all the time and I know the distances like I know the back of my hand. These last two miles have been measured many times. But regardless of what my Garmin was saying, I'm convinced the feet that made up these miles where long. Perhaps fatigue transports you to an alternate universe where feet are 24 inches.
Eventually I made it to the car. 13.1 miles done. I think I managed to finish with some dignity intact, but I can't be sure. Excluding the Snoball stop, I had been running for 1:49:40.
Given my hydration problems, I would have been in trouble even if I was just planning on 10 miles. But the big difference between bonking at mile 7 on a 10 mile run as opposed to a 13 mile run is, well 3 more miles. That was tough to stomach at my low point.