After last month’s Disneyland Half Marathon, I took a look at the lessons learned and was grateful I had a reprieve in that two weeks ago my long run was only 13 miles – sort of a do-over. I hate how runners say “only” before mileage, because anything longer than one mile should be viewed as an achievement, especially for someone starting out. I use that mile, because, growing up, if you lived within a mile of school you had to walk. It wasn’t considered long enough to be on the school bus once you were in third grade. That mile can be any distance depending on where in the process one is and it’s all relative. So, yes, only 13 miles. Because after all, I’ve done a lot of half marathons which are 13.1 miles (yes, I count every step – don’t cheat me!).
That week, I started breaking in my orthotics. This time the two weeks were pain free – just a little stiff in my right shoe. I even managed a 10 minute run in them.
I also decided I needed to up my game in terms of getting serious in losing some weight. I’m not large. I’m not claiming to be overweight. What I am is about ten pounds heavier than I was when I set my personal best in a very hilly half marathon. This year, I’ve struggled with pace. I also have knee issues. So my assumption is that if I can get back to that weight, I’ll have less to schlep across the Walt Disney World Resort on that Sunday, and be better off. I spent some time reading about nutrition for runners and weight loss without severe calorie deprivation – I am not a fan of cleanses or fad diets. I wanted something healthy. By the next week I had decided I was going to try carb cycling. The idea behind carb cycling is that you eat carbs only on certain days. The other days you eat some fat with meals and carbs only with breakfast. There are five small meals per day and all of them include protein and veggies. It is the method that Chris Powell uses on Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition. But I chose it because it forces me to eat cleaner. And it allows me to have reward days, and carbs which I need. Last winter I went on a low carb eating plan and had zero energy to run. I need more, but I don’t need it every day. Plus, a running buddy had just started so I had a support group and advisor and someone to whine with. I planned to start that the following Monday. My weekend was mapped out: weigh in Saturday to track progress, 13 miles, grocery shopping, and football on Sunday.
Before I went into what I’ll call deprivation mode (yes, I feel deprived if I can’t have pasta when I want it), I splurged a little. It was National Cheeseburger Day, so why not? One last hurrah.
Saturday morning, I got up and filled my hydration belt with 24 oz of water, a Honey Stinger Ginger Waffle, and a Big Apple Gu. Part of training is also testing fuel. As this was only 13 miles and usually one Gu is enough, I figured I’d be fine. I started out strong…Practicing my fueling is a big part of training for me. I am trying to figure out when to eat so I don’t “bonk”. I used to say “crash” or “hit the wall”, but “bonk” is way more fun. J I’m also testing different fuels to see what doesn’t make me feel sick and what tastes good and works.
So off I went. Mile 4….Keeping pace. Time to try that waffle. Well, it took until mile 4½ for me to get the wrapper open.
Lesson 1: open your fuel, or make sure you can open the wrapper with wet hands. It could rain, or you could sweat as I did, or your water bottle could leak. Whatever. If you’re running solo and you can’t open your fuel, you’re screwed.
The ginger waffle was delicious – definitely going on the “yes” list. It was hot. I got to practice taking my water bottles out of my belt a lot: Tricky when running, but doable. And Disney races have great water station placement so it really won’t be an issue at the race itself. It’s more for training.
Mile 8….Time for more fuel. “Geeze, it’s @!#*ing hot out here.” Big Apple Gu. Expecting to taste like a sour apple Jolly Rancher or something….NO. GROSS. Tossed in trash. But no biggie. I had fuel. It’s fine.
Mile 8½ ….It’s so hot and I ache. Not just my legs. My back, my butt, my arms even. What is going on? I decide to take more of a walk break. It’s probably the heat . So I pull out my phone to switch music and see my friend messaged me. I text back, “yes on run. Pain. Dying. Help me”. She tells me just walk if I have to and that it’s ok. That’s what I needed to hear.
Mile 10: If I can just get around the corner to the other side of the hotel , I can turn around.
Mile 10.1: I don’t think I can do this. I need to turn now so I can refill water at the fountain. Make it up at the end.
Mile 11: “Dying. WTF was I thinking?” That was my Facebook post as I walked praying to not have to Uber home.
By mile 12, I was in tears. I’m not going to lie. I could barely walk. Almost home.
Total distance: 12.2 Miles.
Now Disney races require a 16 minute mile pace to finish. My normal is about 12-12:30, sometimes 13 on a bad day. I looked at my times, and I could barely walk a 17 minute mile.
I was devastated – so devastated, that I needed to not write about this experience. I needed to heal first. I was too confident. I was too lax. I needed to reevaluate what I need to do to be successful. I also needed to reevaluate if I really wanted to do this. I do.
Lesson 2: Always plan and stay on top of your game. Marathon training is a 24/7 deal. You cannot get away with slacking for a week in any area.
Well, a lot was wrong. My diet was poor the day before….probably the entire week before. I didn’t run in orthotics, yet had been walking in them daily, so my frame was off.
I started back clean on Monday, with successful maintenance runs and a Saturday 4 miler. Not great. I was still sore and a little slower than normal. I’m purposefully slowing down in order to conserve energy but it’s hard.
Today marks 100 days until the race. This weekend is a 15 mile run. This is longer than I have ever gone, but I intend to complete it.