Last week I was scheduled to run 16 miles. With nine weeks to go, it’s a good, hard distance to run. The longest one of the season to that point… and it did NOT work out for me. I’ve been spending way too much time running inside on a treadmill, which hurts both in terms of strength and stamina. While you CAN fake hills on a treadmill, I don’t do that very often, it’s just straight ahead and zero incline. As for stamina, there’s a big difference between running in the basement (it’s cool down there) and running outside. For the 16 miler, it was 84 degrees and 84% humidity, and it was a big enough difference that on a day with almost no shade, I really struggled. In the end, I phoned in for a ride, and called it a day after 12.7 miles.
That was really discouraging for a couple reasons. One, it meant I didn’t bag 30 miles over the course of the week, which is a goal for me from here to marathon day. I missed that goal by about three miles. Second, that would have been my longest run of the season, and a good foundation for this week’s run, and that didn’t happen. Instead of going from 16 to 18 miles, I would be reaching for 18 miles with my longest run of the year being only 14 miles.
In other words, 18 miles was a 28% increase over my longest run of the season. I had a bit of anxiety coming into the weekend because of it, too. I fretted on a daily basis, but what could I do? I’d gotten myself into this mess by not finishing the previous long run. I ate a decent meal on Friday evening, hydrated throughout the day, and decided to make the most of it. Then I fretted some more, and got a good night’s sleep.
Yesterday was the day. I got up late, had a leisurely cup of coffee with the wife, surfed the Web a little bit, ate a small ham and cheese sandwich, drank a bunch of water, and basically stalled. Stupid, I know, but it was how I was coping with the stress of the 18 miler… by ignoring it. Finally, it was getting late in the morning, so I loaded up my hydro-pack with two liters of ice and water, threw an extra 20 ounces of Gatorade on the front of the vest, and hit the road, and took it slow.
Once again, I had the hardest run of the season… and it was just as warm if not a little bit warmer as the week before. After 14 miles, I was out of both Gatorade and water. I called home, and was blessed by a water and ice delivery, and stuck it out. I ended up taking walk breaks ten times yesterday, but I stuck to it, and I got my 18 miles.
I have one more 18 miler scheduled (in two weeks), and then the 20-22 miler two weeks after that, and then it’s taper time. In between now and then, I need to run a lot more hills. Yes, Chicago is flat, but three weeks before the marathon I’m running Ragnar Adirondacks as the anchor leg. Total mileage will be 15.7, with 940 feet of climb. Way easier than Ragnar Trail New England, but still plenty of climbing.
At the end of it all, I’m super pleased with how yesterday went. It was supposed to be hard, and it was. I’m definitely not in as good of shape as I was going into the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM), and that’s disappointing because I’m training hard and not seeing the same results. My first 18 miler for MCM came in almost a minute per mile faster, but I’m still in good shape for having a solid Chicago experience. I still have eight weeks to prepare, and I’m going to make the most of them, and then I’m going to go have a great race.