Slow and Steady Wins the Race

20 miles of Hell

on September 25, 2010

Today I made my 3rd attempt at hitting 20 miles. It was the hardest run I have ever had. And I have had some really shitty runs. This one has the top spot by far.

Where to start…

I knew it was going to be bad when in the first 2 miles my legs were tight and my heart rate was hitting the high 160’s just a few minutes into the first mile.

I tried to shake it off. Sometimes it just takes a while to find my rhythm. I never really found it. There were a few miles that didn’t suck, but they were hard to come by.

Honestly, I don’t want to relive this run blow by blow. I will do a nice little bullet list of some of my thoughts on this run:

  • How can one person have so much snot.
  • Why can I breathe fine some days and others I feel like I am under water (It wasn’t even that humid).
  • What was I thinking when I decided to run 5 miles out from my car after already doing 10 when it is 94 freakin’ degrees out.
  • Now I know what it must feel like to be stranded in the desert (I ran out of fluids at mile 17).
  • I am so thirsty I want to suck the water out of that mud puddle.
  • I always say I will walk if I have to, but walking the last 5 miles is pure torture with blisters the size of Texas on my feet.
  • Trying out different socks on a 20 mile run was a really stupid idea (the reason I have blisters the size of Texas).
  • How am I going to make it 26 miles if going 20 makes me fall apart like this.

This is what I learned:

  • A trail that was shaded at 10 A.M. is NOT shaded at Noon.
  • I need more water/Gatorade on the 2nd half of my run, than I do on the first half. Especially if the sun is beating down on me.
  • I really need to find some socks that don’t cause blisters.
  • Music annoys the shit out of me after about 3 hours.
  • The Gu gels still make me want to hurl.

I made it the whole 20, but it was really because I didn’t have a choice. I had to in order to make it back to my car. I did that on purpose so I would have to complete the distance. I had to walk the last 5 miles though. Whenever I tried to run I was in so much pain I couldn’t take it. I also didn’t have anything to drink for the last 3 miles. It is hard and kind of stupid to run when you are getting dehydrated.

It took me 5 hours to run/walk 20 miles. The last 5 miles were the longest 5 miles of my life.

Next long run on my training plan is 23 miles. I hope my step back week will help me get rid of this fear of running long again. Hopefully cooler weather will help too.

Eating/Weight update: I have been eating out a bit more than usual. I made a birthday cake for my Dad and had more slices of it than I shoulda. Bowl of ice cream count is around 4 for the past couple weeks. Weight is around 158. My goal before the next long run is to concentrate on my nutrition the 3 days or so before and see if that makes a difference.

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9 responses to “20 miles of Hell

  1. gabrielle says:

    If you can get through that, you can get through anything. 🙂

    Socks: Have you tried SmartWool? They are my running socks, and I love them. They’re cushy, non-slip, and wick away sweat great (if you have super-sweaty feet like me.) They are pricey at about $18 per pair, but well worth it. I’ve only had 2 pair for over a year, and they show NO signs of wear.

    As far as food goes, for +10 mile runs, I eat Clif bars instead of gels or beans. I have to have something “real” to eat or I feel crappy. My stomach can’t take just straight up carbs but for so long.

    • Ann says:

      If a pair of socks can save me from the blisters I have/had while training, I would pay $30 a pair! Where did you get them? REI?

      I will have to try a Clif bar. I had a banana in between Gu’s today, but I don’t think it is enough for the amount of time I am on my feet.

      Sent from my iPhone

  2. Lynne says:

    Okay not to toot my own horn but what I don’t think what happened to your feet could come close to what I put my feet thru today. I didn’t get my 20 in because well I’m a schmuck with a p/t job that scheduled me to work right after my run (cut it short so I wouldn’t be late). I did, however, get just over 18 in. The kicker is the tape that almost completely covered the bottoms of both. It’s helping out until I get my orthotics in. Well around mile 6 I could tell the tape was pulling on the skin and little did I know how much…I pulled off skin from the blister. Then off to work 4 hours at the mall. No ice bath. *my foot is still swollen*

    Anyway, I’m sure your feet hurt, but I can tell you sometimes you push thru because you know you need to get those mile is or it’s going to be worse come race day. To help you with the blisters, I’ve tried several women’s socks and the two I like are Women’s Saucony #90242 (come is packs of 6 pairs) and Balega International Hidden Dry (most running stores carry these). I’ve ran 4 marathons is Balega’s with no problems. This year’s training I’ve been using the Saucony’s because they’re thinner and cooler. No problems with them and they’re cheaper. Also, have you tried using BodyGlide on your feet? Try it if you haven’t. If you have and it didn’t work, some say stick deodorant works too.

    I’ve got another push for my 20 next Saturday. I should have my inserts by then. I’ll be looking for how your 23 goes. Best of luck & kick some butt!

    • Ann says:

      Thanks for the sock tips! I know my local Fleet Feet carries Balega and I will give those a try too. I would have to agree that you have my feet saga beat. Yours sounds horrific. After my run yesterday, I just laid on my living room floor for an hour. There is no way I would have been able to stand up for several hours without crying uncontrollably.

  3. Lynne says:

    I think we all have stories about this ache or this pain. This is why most of us run, so we can tell these funny stories that no one but other runners will understand. I always love hearing “the only way I’d run 20 miles is if a bear was chasing me” or the “if I want to go 20 miles, I’ll get in my car”. There’s a topic for you – what’s the most humorous response you’ve received to “I ran XX miles this past Saturday”?

  4. Hey Ann,

    I cried as I read your post late Sunday night, then shared it with Hubs Monday morning… I felt so bad for you as I read your thoughts. Man, what a TOUGH run!!!!! I*can’t*even*imagine*20*miles. Yet.

    Re: fuel…. have you tried the ‘basics’ – PB & J? I find that a whole wheat mini bagel w/ just a little of each, cut into halves or thirds (easier to eat while running) helps a LOT. You know, being diabetic, I require a bit more fuel and a little more frequently than other runners, so I’ve tinkered with the whole eating thing. The other thing I swear by is Luna Moons (Clif, I believe). Like gummy bears, but not too sweet.

    As for hydration – another biggie for me. I think that’s when I started to cry reading your post. I KNOW what that feeling is like and it’s just awful (and totally not okay, diabetic or not!). I find a Gatorade/Water 50/50 is good. Just enough of each. It’s carrying ENOUGH of each that makes the difference, though, as you found out. Our humidity continues to be a problem, even as the temps cool down. Take it easy out there.

    Socks: I’ve tried a few, and here’s what I can share – WRIGHT brand is a double-layer sock. Not too bad. Thorlo’s Experia are quite nice, with some padding and fits snugly to the arch. I love my Injinji socks for keeping blisters at bay between my toes (they look like gloves for your feet…weird for a minute, but awesome), and finally, Thorlo’s walking sock which is lots more padded and requires a larger shoe is my favorite. They recommend you go up a full size+ to accommodate the padding, but they are soooo comfortable. Let me know if you think you might be interested in Thorlos. I have a wonderful contact who is SUPER FANTASTIC and loves to work w/ bloggers who run and write about it.

    Ann, you are AMAZING, and I sooo look forward to when we can run together. When you hit the streets, just know that I’m with you in spirit. 🙂

    BIG *HUGS* from Orlando, friend!!!

    • Ann says:

      Thanks for the support, Robin! I eat PB on a bagel before I run and have a cup of coffee. I have a hard time eating real food while running, but have been able to eat a banana after 10 miles. I might be able to tolerate a Clif bar as another friend suggested. I am going to go back to Gu Chomps since I have had success with those. I keep trying the gels thinking I will find one that works, but I haven’t. The gel is just less bulky to carry. I can’t stand the texture though.

      I have realized now that I either need to get a fuel belt that carries more bottles or alter my running strategy to hit my car more often to load back up on water and Gatorade. Out of everything on that run, the thirst was what was really the hardest to deal with.

      I have heard a lot of people say that the Wright socks are awesome. I also saw your Injinji and thought those would be great for me. My toes rub together and it does cause blisters after so many hours on my feet. I still have a while to test out some sock options and will definitely give those two a shot!

  5. Ann,

    I just discovered your blog and I thought I would take to time to plug the Injinjis for blister prevention. I’ve used them for 50 mile ultras in the dirt and sand without a single blister. If you haven’t tried them, you should. No guarantee, of course, but they really work for me.

    Regarding the long runs, a running partner helps. Misery really does love company.

    • Ann says:

      Thanks for the info on the Injinjis! Wow, 50 miles…amazing. I have some running partners for marathon day. I am hoping they can help pull me along!

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