This is not easy

During every training cycle there comes a certain point where I realize (or re-realize) that this running stuff is not easy. Even though I've spent days plotting out a challenging, yet flexible training schedule; even though I've done this nine times before; even though I fully know what to expect, there still comes that point where I forget all of that and realize that distance running is hard and that maybe I can't do it.

Sure enough, I came to this realization again in the middle of this training cycle. It actually happened on Sunday while I was doing an 18-miler in Philly.

Wifey and I were in town visiting family. Unfortunately, five hours after getting to Philly I realized that I left my trusty water bottle and all my CLIF Shots at home. The water bottle was easy to replace, but how was I supposed to replace CLIF Shots when I was in a foreign city, didn't have a car, and was stuck in a part of town where the local bodega is THE grocery store?

So I improvised. I found a CVS and hoped that they had CLIF Bars, or Luna Bars, or at least a Snickers Marathon bar. No dice. I ended up grabbing the only thing in that store that I had ever eaten on a run: M&Ms. Yeah, I know, but I didn't have any other choices, we're talking about a 2:40 minute run here, I needed food!

I went to bed a little uneasy, but figured I would be able to muscle through it. Then, as I woke up in the morning and changed into my running clothes I looked outside. I guess I had misread the weather forecast because the snow that was supposed to start on Sunday night, actually started on Saturday night. There was about one-inch on the cars and houses and puddles of water and ice on the sidewalks. Faaaaaantastic.

From the get-go this was not going to be a good run. When I went outside it was far colder than I thought it would be thanks to the overcast and wind. Then, I couldn't gather up any speed because of the snow and ice on the ground. The M&M's, while delicious, were cold and hard to bite and didn't go down that well.

By the time I got to the Art Museum (about mile 11) I just couldn't convince myself that "7 miles isn't that bad." Three miles later, as I crossed the Falls Bridge the "this is hard" thought hit me. Granted, this was the steepest part of the run and placed 15 miles into the run , but usually with just four miles left in a run I can start cranking out some decent miles. No dice, I was just thinking how hard this was and how everything hurt.

It didn't help that when I crossed the bridge I found myself in the middle of a 10K race. Yeah, all those people running 6.2 miles blazing past me did nothing for my game on Sunday. Actually I think for the whole second half of the run my pace didn't change at all--8:55 for the last nine miles.

I guess to get those runner's highs you need to have these runner's lows. The good thing I've noticed over the years is that crappy long runs are usually followed by great long runs the following week--and next week is my first 20-miler. I haven't had much luck with 20-milers in the past (accidentally cut them short or wind up walking the last three miles), so I'm curious to see what happens.


Irish Cream said...

We all have those runs that remind us that long-distance running is not so easy . . . the important thing is that you fight through them and prove to yourself that you CAN do it. And you did just that. Way to go! I'm definitely predicting a fantastic 20-miler for you ;)

raulgonemobile said...

Yes, it isn't easy.. but you're out there doing it.

One idea for fuel I read about yesterday (I think on shoerunning's blog) was the idea of using raisins.. certainly easier to find.

The Laminator said...

Good job buddy. I get those moments too when I'm not feeling those long runs so much. At times like that I usually have to run a new route or choose a new pace or listen to a new song, and just try to break it down to a series of 2 or 3 mile runs that I know I can complete. Way to get that one done though.

Denise said...

Running in Philly??!! I'm in Philly. Saw your comment on Flyers post so I jumped over to see what you're up to.

Adam said...

Yeah, I HATE getting out of a routine too. That is why I really subscribe to 'race like you train'. I try to eat the same things etc before every long run!

Nice work knocking it out even though it wasn't perfect!!!