Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Longest Training Run Ever

What doesn't kill me makes me stronger. Right? Boy, I must be getting stronger then, because today's run was freaking brutal.

OK, let me set this up for you. I committed to a 50K a long time ago, and it is coming up in 2 weeks. I don't really have enough miles under my belt for this. But I did just run a decent marathon, well the first 20 miles anyway, so I guess I'm not too far off. So I took a few weeks off after the marathon, ran a decent double last weekend, and thought I'd do one more long run before the taper.

I've had this idea in my head for a few years to do this run around Palos Verdes. PV is the local big hill. There is a Palos Verdes Drive which goes all the way around the mountain, and it is 21 miles long. It also includes a lot of hills, including one really big one that goes up about 800 feet in 2 miles. The run is gorgeous, with half of it hugging the rugged coastline with amazing views.

It's been on my bucket list for a while, so I figured this was a good time to do it. My plan was to take it easy, walk as needed on the hills, not worry about time, and just get it done. Treat it like an ultra and just get used to running while tired.

Today was supposed to be a little warm, but it was still cloudy as I left home and drove 4 miles to the start. But by mile 1 the sun was out, the clouds burned off, and it got warmer. I didn't get started until 8:20. Should have left at least an hour earlier. Oh well. I carried two water bottles on my belt and brought two GUs. I knew of a few places to get water, but none in the last ten miles, so I was a little concerned.

The first few miles were fine. I started taking Galloway walk breaks in mile 1! Yes, I was serious about not worrying about time. I walked about 20-30 seconds almost every mile. It helped because otherwise I was going too fast. By mile 7 I was already feeling pretty tired. The hills were tough, and I was looking forward to walk breaks. And it was getting hot. But the views were awesome! Went by a few golf courses along the coast, one owned by Donald Trump.

Just before ten miles I made a turn and started up the brutal two mile hill. It was mostly switchbacks. I was still running about half the time, and then walking. It was an endurance test at this point. By the time I hit the top at mile 12 I was done. Put a fork in me. Plus I was almost out of water and didn't know of any more water stops ahead. And nine miles to go! Worrisome!

Here is the Elevation Profile, and the Garmin link if you're interested.

But I knew there was downhill ahead. I managed to run a whole mile down hill without stopping, but took a break once it leveled off. Just as I was really getting worried about water, a gas station appeared, and I got to refill my bottles from the sink. Phew! Took a little break and felt better. But as soon as I started up I had a little more uphill and had to walk most of it. I was just dead, and with 8 miles to go, was thinking about calling for a pickup (if I found someone with a phone). But then I thought, this is a bucket list thing. Just do it, one way or the other. The idea of walking all or most of the last 8 miles didn't sound too bad.

But then was more downhill and I was able to run for a few miles. However, I noticed one of my bottles was gone! It must have fallen off soon after I refilled it, and no way was I going back. So I only had one bottle for the last 7 miles. I rationed it.

Mile 16 I hit the bottom of the hill and had 5 to go. Had to walk. A lot. I was hot and it felt like mile 24 of a marathon. I alternated in some trotting when I could. I saw a bus stop bench, and stopped and had a seat. It was too tempting. But only for 30 seconds or so. Then I saw a Little League field and decided to go off course to get more water. No fountains, so I just went up to some parents and begged for water. They were more than happy to refill my bottle. And then fill it again after I drank the whole thing. Now I felt like I could finish the last 4 with one full bottle.

The next two were a little uphill and I had to walk a lot, but the last two were almost all down, and I managed to run most of it. Made it back to my car in 3 and a half hours. Average of 10 minute pace. About 20-30 minutes more than I predicted. Felt like I just ran a marathon. But I did it! So there was some pride there. I weighed myself before and after, and lost 5 pounds! And this was after a CLIF bar and lots of water.

Signs that you're in for a tough day:
  • You keep seeing roads like Crest Drive, and Alta Vista Ave, and Mountaintop Lane, and What the Eff drive (OK, maybe I hallucinated the last one)
  • You see more reptiles than mammals next to the road
  • You pass a road bike going up a hill, briefly
  • You lose half your water supply
  • You tell someone you're running 21 miles, and they say "Today?" (referring to the heat)
  • A 2% grade uphill is enough to crush your soul
  • You have to take a walk break on a long downhill
  • You see more birds below you than above you
I was pretty downbeat during miles 12-20. Ready to throw in the towel for the 50K. Considered the run a failure. But now after 6 hours of recovery, I don't feel nearly so bad! I guess I will get through the 50K one way or the other. Should make for a good story anyway. At least I will be with friends.

Splits: 9:09, 8:46, 8:19, 8:33, 8:21, 8:27, 8:25, 9:05, 10:02, 9:48
          11:08, 11:22, 8:03, 12:56, 8:35, 8:03, 15:25, 9:05, 14:42, 10:54, 9:36

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