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16-mile run

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Week 9 of marathon training brought on the 16-mile run, my longest run to date! And it sucked – BIG TIME!  But I’m getting ahead of myself……

It was a sunny, cool morning when I headed out.  The first 3 miles were great and I was feeling optimistic about completing the run with no problems.  After all, I got past the first 3 miles and now all I had left was a half-marathon – something that I’ve done several times.  Once again, I did 2:1 run/walk intervals which puts me at my race goal pace of a 12:00-13:00/mile pace.  After 45 minutes, I ate a Clif Shot mocha energy gel.  I was also sipping Gatorade and water that I had brought in my hydration belt.  Things were going well and I just kept telling myself that if I could get to mile 10 with no problem, then I’d only have 6 miles to go and I’d be good.  I got to mile 10, and then to mile 11.

And that’s when things went downhill.  At this point, I had eaten two more energy gels, Huma Chia Seed Mocha flavor.  By mile 11, I felt like I was going to throw up.  And I also felt like I was going to poop myself (sorry if that’s TMI).  That was when I seriously considered just stopping right there and heading home.  So I started walking and after a few minutes, the stomach issues passed and I felt better, so I started back up with the 2:1 run/walk intervals.  Those next 5 miles were challenging, to say the least.  Every inch of my legs ached, particularly my glutes.  I was afraid to eat another energy gel because the thought of eating one made me feel nauseous, and so I continued to sip my water and Gatorade and I tried to quiet the thoughts of doubt creeping through my head.

Those last 5 miles, particularly the last 3, were completely ran on mental strength.  Quitting was not an option, although I seriously wanted to.  But what really dominated my thoughts by that point was this:  there’s no way in hell I can run another 10.2 miles.  NO WAY.  And that really got to me and when I did finally finish the 16 miles, I started to cry.  (Thank goodness there was no one else around!)  I cried because for the first time, I started to have doubts about doing a marathon.  Doing 16 miles was HARD.  How would I ever be able to do 26.2?

I walked home, stretched out, and cried some more.  I hurt all over.  I was exhausted.  I just kept thinking about how I still have to add on 10.2 more miles in order to do a marathon and all I could think was I CAN’T.  I just can’t.  At the pace I run, that’s two more hours of running.  TWO HOURS!  Ugh.

I drank some water, then cherry juice, and I took a hot shower.  And then I cried some more.  Good grief, I’ve not cried that much in a long time.  But I felt so damn defeated.  And tired.  So damn tired.

Once I showered and got dressed, I tried to eat something, but my body was still rebelling.  I did manage to get a bagel with some peanut butter and a banana in me, but my stomach was still not very happy.  Then I had some coffee because for some reason after long runs, I crave coffee.  I sat outside, enjoyed the beautiful weather, and soon the feelings of exhaustion and defeat started to leave me and I started to feel like my old self again.

We had dinner with friends, sat outside around the fire pit and I started letting myself think about the next long run in two weeks: 18 miles.  I remembered that when I was training for my first half-marathon and I ran 10 miles for the first time, I felt this same way.  I didn’t think there was any way I could run an additional 3.1 miles because getting to that 10-mile point was so incredibly hard and I just didn’t think that I had it in me to do more.  But you know what? I came back that next week and I ran 11 miles and it felt great!  And I also went on to do a half-marathon.  So I hope that this weekend experience is the same thing.  I hope that I somehow find the strength to do 18 miles.  And then 20, and so on until I achieve a marathon.

Right now, I’m not really sure if I can do a marathon.  But at this point, I’m not giving up and I’m going to keep training.  I hope I have the strength, both physically and mentally, to do this.  I know my body continues to surprise me.  My legs keep moving, even though they’re tired.  My heart stays strong, even though my head tells me to give up.  As long as my determination holds out,  I can and will do this.

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14 thoughts on “16-mile run

  1. Maybe doing a different run/walk ratio would help. I always do either 30:30 or 1:1 and feel good. It certainly couldn’t hurt. Glad you made it through.

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  2. It sounds like you are still trying to figure out the best fueling for you? You will get there, keep at it! After you do your 20, you’ll know you can do 26.2, just like you were able to do 13.1 after doing 10 🙂

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  3. You sound so much like I did when I started getting up over the 13 miles! I had the same thoughts. I cried so much. I think I told you once that on my 18 mile run, my husband (riding along side me on his bike) should have divorced me! haha With each time after the 16, I could not imagine running any more. I would discuss even stopping and pulling out of the marathon. My husband each time would tell me that I would hate myself if I did that. He was right. When I finally got to my 20 miler…I actually thought I had a little more in me so I felt better. Isn’t it awful and amazing? You are right, at some point on the run…it is most all mental. I try to muster up every positive thought that I could. I even went as far as trying to remember what I got for each Christmas when I was a kid! haha You will find inspiration to help carry you to 26.2. I promise 🙂 Run on, Runner Girl!

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    1. Charlotte, I remember you talking about how 16 and 18 miles were the toughest for you, and yet you were able to complete a marathon and so that’s part of the reason why I’m not ready to quit. I can do this, I just have to figure out a way to make it as painless as possible! It this was easy, everyone would be doing it and that’s what I keep telling myself. This is not an easy goal that I have taken on and therefore, I can’t quit when things start to get tough. It’s SUPPOSED to get tough, and this is when I find out what I’m really made of. Like you, my family is there 100% to tell me that I CAN do this, and I have some wonderful running friends, too, who are always there with words of encouragement and support, and I definitely wouldn’t be able to do this without any of you! Thank you! 🙂

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      1. At mile 20-23 my knee hurt like it never had. I think because of a steep downhill right before that. Steep declines hurt worse than inclines to me. I felt my knee was about to buckle and I cried like a baby….not at all because of the pain, but because of my fear of not completing that 26.2. I think runners love pain. hahaha After 23 miles, the pain went away or else I just forgot about it. My last mile was strong. You will do it. You will think you can’t. Don’t listen to yourself or body! 🙂

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