Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Thank God that's done.
Well, I made it about half a mile down the road from my house and the skies opened up again and dumped giant quantities of water on me. I thought about turning around and calling it quits, but forged ahead. I was already out there and already completely soaked, it couldn't get worse right? My shoes were making that awesome squishing noise with every step, but I figured the sun would come out and I would be dry in no time, plus on the bright side the rain cooled me off a little.
It wasn't really that hot out, but it was ridiculously humid. I thought maybe the rain would have pulled some of the moisture out of the air and made it less oppressive, but it didn't. I felt like I was running through wet cement. The first 6 miles were ok. I felt pretty good despite being totally soaked and a little sluggish. Mile 7 is a long gradual climb and I felt like I was pulling a 50lb. sled behind me, but I gutted it out. I still felt relatively good. Legs were fine, lungs fine, not too hot, not too tired....yet. Mile 8 was slow but sort of flat and I stopped to take a gel so I attributed the time lost to that.
I turned up High Plain Rd. in Andover for miles 9-11 and I always forget how awful the hills are. I think the word 'plain' makes me think flat, but I selectively forget to read the word 'HIGH' first. This was the point in the run where I really started to feel like junk. I was totally gassed on the hills and exhausted. I tried as hard as I could to just keep running and push through, but the perceived exursion was off the damn charts. I'd run a few strides and stop doubling over and heaving, totally spent. Not good considering I still had 10 more miles to go. I had a few options to cut the run short, but stubborn as I am I talked myself into suffering through the long run.
By the time I got to Haggett's Pond Rd. and was headed to the second section of my figure eight loop I had already started getting goosebumps, a sure sign of bad things to come. I was still completely drenched but it was impossible to tell if it was from sweat or the rain. I hadn't been drinking a lot in the first half of the run, so I made a conscious effort to take a few sips every mile, but when the spout of my water bottles touched my lips I couldn't limit it to a sip, I guzzled whatever liquid was left in them. Obvious that my body was now a dry sponge trying to absorb anything available.
I made it to the bottom of Haggett's pond and thought because it was a long downhill I must have gotten a decent paced mile in there, but no still barely shuffling along. Seven miles to go, I got this right? Doing the math in my head trying to figure out how long it might take me to get home. I pulled out a bottle from my fuel belt....EMPTY. Checked the next one.....EMPTY. All of them.....EMPTY!!! I still had a long way to go and I was out of water. I knew there was a fire station at the top of the next series of hills, but that was still 3-4 miles away. I hoped I could make it there and I wouldn't need to be picked up by them passed out on the side of the road.
Within a half mile from the fire station I had already consumed ALL of the water I got from them. The voice of my friend Kim was in my head saying "anyone can run a 5K", only 3 miles to go, but it was the longest 3 miles EVER. I felt a little better because I had replenished some of the fluids lost, but still struggled. I had told my mom, visiting for the weekend, that I would be gone for about three and a half hours and if I wasn't back in four hours she should come looking for me. My watch approached 4 hours and I was half hoping that she would show up driving down the road, but at the same time I was embarrassed and ashamed that this run had taken so long and taken so much out of me.
I made it up the last hill and around the corner to my house and my watch beeped 20 miles - DONE! It took me 4:16, the same amount of time it took me to run the Boston Marathon. It was definitely the worst run ever. I am not even sure I can call it a 'run' because for a good portion of the time I was barely moving at all. I walked into my house and immediately downed a giant glass of water and then another one. I wanted to take an ice bath, but didn't have the energy to even attempt driving to the store for ice. I stripped my soggy clothes off and weighed myself before getting in the shower. I had lost about 10lbs in fluids.
Anyway, I think that 20 miler takes the cake and now replaces the Eastern States race as the worst run ever that I will forever measure all other runs by from now on. But on the bright side, I survived it and I can now taper for Berlin and pray for cool, cloudy, not humid weather in 26 days. If I can make it through a ridiculously tough training run like that and survive to run another day, race day should be a breeze. Like I always say, the race is the reward for the training and this one is going to be one heck of a reward well earned.