Whew

All done with this training cycle.  Now for a bit of active recovery this coming week.

But first, I need to give credit where credit is due.  I’m married to a true Goddess.  The one who asks me what I want to do during my holiday break, to which I answer “sleep and run”, and she gives me that “Are you serious?” look, to which she already knows the answer.

So that’s what I did over the past two weeks, which was my last Base period before racing at the end of January.

All told, 110.97 miles of running in the past two weeks; 50.43 miles last week, 60.54 miles this week.  Snow, rain, well below freezing, well above freezing.  The whole stinkin’ gamut.  And it was all good.

I did get a few commutes to/from work on the bike, but swapped one ride home for a run, which served two purposes.  And instead of 35 minutes to get home, it took 1:20.  So it really didn’t impact the home life too much.

And the runs were a mix of short hill runs, medium tempo runs and long steady runs.  In other words, a normal training plan.  But it wasn’t all normal.

– A 10-mile tempo+ run last Monday, which started out slow thanks to the 50 miles of the previous week.  The first three miles were OK, but nothing to get excited about.  Then the gears switched and I was rolling through the forest at a comfortable clip, finding my groove.  The (+) portion of the tempo was when I decided to go visit an old friend, the pain cave, whose threshold I hadn’t crossed in quite a while.  I didn’t want to get too deep in, but decided to head over, open the door, look around the make sure that the drapes hadn’t been stolen.  Nothing was disturbed, but there was definitely a layer of dust from lack of use.  I’ll have to get back there soon.  So even after the slow opening miles, I finished the 10 miles just a few minutes off my 10-mile PR.  But I did feel it the next day.

– The 20-miler on New Year’s Eve was a mixed bag of weather.  It was a steady 45F, rapidly changing from sun to pouring rain and back again.  Since the rain was going to be intermittent, I left the shell at home, which made for a few borderline hypothermic moments.  Luckily it cleared out just before sunset, which let it cool down quickly into the upper 30’s(F).  So soaking wet, cold.  I couldn’t get into a warm shower fast enough.  But that worked out well, since it was New Year’s Eve.

– New Year’s Eve detraining – lots of resveratrol was consumed, which my doc (“drink early, drink often”) swears is good for my heart.  And let me tell you, the German’s know how to greet a new year.  I swear every family up and down the street bought hundreds of euro of fireworks.  It looked like a war zone out there.  It did my teenaged-boy heart good.  And though I was perfectly fine the next day, I just didn’t get out the door to run.

– Today’s 15-miler through the ice/snow was great, especially considering the amount of miles these legs have endured in the past 14 days.  Although after a poor night of sleep, I wasn’t too motivated.  Goddess got me through that (something about “get out now”).  The legs were heavy and tired, but found their rhythm after a few miles.  Then a nice negative split.  Nothing too drastic, but considering the abuse that I’ve put myself through, I can’t be anything but pleased with that.  It was a great way to close out the cycle.

So now it’s a recovery week, which will include some thigh-busting skiing in the Alps.  And if that doesn’t teach the quads who’s boss, I don’t know what will.

=====================================

Year in Review – 2009

Lots of thoughts during these long runs about posting a year in review.  Some discussion with other folks on their year’s in review.  For me, the review is only meaningful to the one posting it, unless the numbers posted are compared to the year’s goals and/or previous year’s totals.  Otherwise they’re just numbers.

So for those of you who want numbers, you won’t find them here (unless you read above).  I look through my numbers fairly often in both Training Peaks and SportTracks.  Matter of fact, I keep a rolling 10- and 28-day chart in my SportTracks to make sure I’m not doing anything too crazy.  With the move to Germany this year, there wasn’t any sense in setting annual goals, since there were way too many variables.  All of my short-term goals were early in the year (March’s LBL 60K and April’s Country Music Marathon) and were resounding successes, even if I didn’t meet certain time goals.  I learned quite a bit, including how much I enjoy a good trail run.

But thanks to the commute to/from work, my bike mileage jumped considerably over last year, which had a six-month chunk taken out thanks to a deployment to Iraq.  No cycling during that time.

And what will 2010 bring?  Who knows.  A 50K at the end of January, then I’ll start searching for something to do later in the year.  The Antwerp 70.3 looks fun (I love that distance triathlon), but finding a swimming pool with good hours is a trick.  The local pool is open 10am-10pm, but is too far from work for a lunchtime swim.  After work I’m usually too knackered to do anything.  Plus, that’s Goddess’ time.  So unless I think I can pull off a 70.3 without any lap time…

So here’s to a great year for each and every one of you.  If you’re one that makes resolutions, I hope that the resolve you currently have lasts through the year.

Ace

This won’t mean much to most, but it’s a bit of bragging.

Being in the military, fitness is a significant part of our job.  Matter of fact, we’re actually afforded a couple of hours every day during work hours to work out.  How perfect is that for me?  So we set aside the first two hours of the day for organized Physical Training (PT).  The downside for me is that the workouts are basic enough to challenge those that aren’t in shape, but not so challenging that it breaks them (that’s not the goal).  So I’ll often run the five miles to work and then start PT.  Then I’ll run home at the end of the day, stretching my afternoon run from 5-13 miles or more if need be.  Rinse, repeat the next day.

Anyway, the proof was in the pudding this week.  We had our PT test, which consists of a waist measurement, crunches, push ups and timed 1.5-mile run.

The waist measurement has been the bane of my existence.  In order to get a perfect score of 50, one must have a waist measurement of less than 32.5″ (for men).  Age is not a consideration, nor is height.  It’s actually measured just below the navel.  And for every half-inch greater than 32.5″, one loses 1.25 points.  Even though I was in shape to race Ironman-distance races, I still had enough around the mid-section that I’d lose 8 points before I even started.

But thanks to switching to a Primal/Paleo diet at the start of my deployment to Iraq, those inches have all but melted off.  I did lose some weight by switching, but mostly the fat melted away as my body composition shifted.  But don’t mistake my use of the word diet to mean that I went on a diet.  No, I actually had done a lot of research and decided that the way I had been eating hadn’t been working for me, so I modified the way I was eating.  For those who don’t know what Primal or Paleo diets are (and don’t click on the links above), the gist of it is getting back to a more natural way of eating, minimizing the processed foods and eliminating grains (for many different reasons).  Some mistakenly call them “low carb” diets, which they are not; it’s just a matter of getting carbs from natural sources, not processed sources.  Perhaps that will be a different post, since this one is already getting sidetracked.

Anyway, thanks to the sculpting that the diet change has brought about, I now measure at a cool 32.0″ just below the navel.  So that hurdle is out of the way.  The rest is easy.

Crunches – must do more than 47 in one minute.  Done.

Pushups – must do more than 40 in one minute.  Done.

Timed 1.5-mile run – must run faster than 10:21 to get full points.  Done, with a very comfortable, evenly paced 9:45.  Even after putting  20-miles on the legs in the previous 36 hours.

Now, I’ll admit I took advantage of my age group.  Once one turns 40, the run time gets a bit slower and the pushups and crunches are a few less; only the waist measurement doesn’t change.  But I actually ran faster than the 35-39 and 30-34 age groups require for a perfect score.  So next month’s goal is to add the few extra pushups and crunches and then ace the 35-39 age group PT test.  After that…

Plus, it’s fun to leave the twenty-something’s strewn all over the track during the run.

I think this will leave a mark

Thanks to some glute issues that I could not resolve myself, I haven’t run since October 19th. Well, not entirely true. I tried to gut out a run on the 21st, but bagged it just a half-mile into it, knowing I could do some real damage if I continued.

So I worked the glute as well as I could during the last few weeks in Iraq. But no matter how much I rolled on a tennis ball, eyed the knob on my bed’s foot-board (how would you explain that one to a shocked roommate) and sat on desk corners, I just couldn’t get the bastard to release.

So within 36 hours of getting home, I was face-down on the masseuse’s table. She put all 120lbs into her elbow and dug away. I walked out of that session bruised heavily up and down my legs, which is what I asked for.

On Tuesday we went for an easy 3-mile run at work. No issues at all. Everything felt perfect, likely through a combination of rest and massage.

A follow-up massage on Thursday made sure that everything was good. I don’t think she needed to resort to her elbow once during that session, but she made sure no trigger point was left unturned.

The proof was in the pudding – a very comfortable, yet hilly 5-miles this evening at a very comfortable 8:53/mile pace. I’m confident that I will be able to truly make myself hurt Sunday morning.

I’m looking forward to it.

Sapper Half Marathon

Two weekends in a row of racing.  Three races in 4 weeks, with the first being my 40-miler, last week being a 10-miler and then this half-marathon.  Yeah, I’m abusing myself a bit, but what the hell?  It’s all part of the plan.

Since last Sunday’s 10-miler PR, I have run absolutely zero (0) feet.  Not even a shuffle.  Monday was my normally scheduled rest day; the rest of the week was either getting ready to travel or actually traveling.  And there wasn’t any time available to run during that time, although I had my shoes ready in case an opportunity presented itself.  It just didn’t.  Matter of fact, I wasn’t even sure I’d make it back in time to run the half.  But we got back early Saturday morning, which gave me a whole 3 hours sleep before heading back to work a full day.  Luckily I did get a full-night’s sleep before the run, but I definitely wasn’t loose and ready for it.

My goal was a PR.  When I toed the line, I knew that I should be happy with a well-paced run, which I would have been.  Based on last weekend’s 10-miler, I was looking to run 8:00/mile splits, which would get me under 1:45, a new PR by over three minutes.  Not unreasonable to expect, but not likely considering my lack of running during the preceding days.  But that’s a minor point.  The run would be what it was.

As I’ve finally figured out this year, consistent pacing and negative splits are the way to go.  So starting out a bit slow in the opening miles would help me to warm up as well as save my energy for later.  So I watched a good chunk of the field pass me in the opening miles, knowing I’d see many of them again.

Looking at the graph below, each half mile pace is represented by the bars and the scale on the left side.  The line shows my average pace, with the scale on the right.  The spike at 1.5 miles was an unplanned porta-potty stop.  Unplanned but necessary.  The spikes later on (6.5, 10, 12) were me walking through the water stops.  I walked through every one, but those reflected the most in my pace.

The pace the first miles were too slow and easy, which I recognized at about the half-way point.  Instead of being close to an 8:10-ish pace which would poise me well to negative split, I was sitting at about 8:20, which mean that I had a pretty huge deficit to make up if I planned on pulling off a negative split.  But I also knew that if I kept a quicker pace, I’d whittle away at that overall pace and likely still PR, so that was my goal.

The best part of the run was that it covered most of the ground that I ran all summer, except this time it was during daylight.  I actually got to see my surroundings!  It was a scenic run as we worked our way from Camp Liberty to Camp Victory, out to Camp Slayer and then back.  Although I’m sure that means nothing to most of you, as far as coalition locations go in Iraq, these are the jewels.  Several ornate palaces and mosques surrounded by large lakes and palm trees made for a nice run.

Although I was going slower than I had hoped, I was still moving well.  Save for a handful of folks in the very first miles, I didn’t start my “passing campaign” until mile 4.  It was after that point that I started passing runners quite readily.  During the remainder of the race, I was only passed by one runner who managed to stay in front of me until the end; anyone else who passed me was reeled in and passed for good.  I even got stink eye from the 4th Infantry Division’s Commanding General at about mile 11 as I passed him and his group very comfortably.  Apparently he wasn’t too keen on getting buried by an Air Force guy.  I was tempted to give him a “good game” as I went by, but I like the rank that I’m at right now.

At mile 10, I was only three minutes off my pace for last week’s 10-miler.  Sitting at 1:21, I did the math in my head and knew that I’d have to knock out 3.1 miles at faster than 8:00/mi pace.  Taking stock of my legs, I figured I’d give it a try.  So I accelerated, but apparently a mile of that was all I had at that point, since I slowed to 8:10-8:15/mi pace after mile 11.

By mile 12 I had an odd experience, my shoulder started cramping up.  Wouldn’t you know it, I’m working it out as I run, I go around the corner and there’s the photographer, snapping away as I’m all contorted.  Oh well.  On the chart you can see where the combination of a water stop and my massaging slowed down my pace.

The last mile I accelerated comfortably, working to get it as close to 1:45 as I could.  I didn’t bother looking at my Garmin, instead just going by feel.  It didn’t feel great, but it wasn’t supposed to.  Looking at my heart rate data, the last mile I pushed deep into Zone 5; I knew it at the time simply based on my breathing.  I didn’t need the Garmin to tell me what I was feeling.

After I crossed the line, grabbed my finisher’s shirt and schwag bag, I headed out to the course.  Luckily the last mile was a horseshoe-shape, so I didn’t have far to go to cheer on folks who had about 300 meters to the line.  That was a great experience, seeing so many folks that worked all summer to build up to this half marathon.  A full cross-section of runner passed by on the way to their finish – tall, short, slight, big.  We even had our requisite bloody-nipple guy.

But the best part for me was seeing all of the folks that I worked and ran with this summer.  Just 4-5 months ago, none would have ever considered running a half-marathon.  Only one of them had ever run 10 miles and he swore that was his limit.  But to see each of them surge to the finish line of a half-marathon was great.  Some have goals to run a marathon next year, some may never run a half-marathon again.  But at least for this period in their lives, they now know what it is to be a runner – one who sets a goal, trains for it and conquers it.  They are hooked.

It makes me smile.  And that’s my PR.  One that will never be broken.

Army 10-Miler, Baghdad. A PR (of sorts)

Well, it’ll have to be one. I’ve never actually run an actual 10-mile race before. All have been either shorter or longer. But I know where I normally am for half-marathons, at right around 1:22. So my goal was to go sub-1:20 for this race.

Since it wasn’t a priority race, I wasn’t out there to kill it. Just out there to work on even pacing and a negative split. I achieved both.

To achieve a 1:20 even 10-miler, I had to maintain 8:00/mile pace. To negative split, I ran the first 5-miles at a very comfortable 8:04/mile average. It was fun to watch all the folks jackrabbit for the first few miles, knowing I’d see a good chunk of them soon.

Baghdad’s flat as a pancake. Except for one hill. And that hill was the middle mile, from about 4.5-5.5. One-half mile up, turn around and back down. It was interesting to see the faces of the folks in front of me after they had come back down. Many were beat up. More good news for me. When we turned to view the hill straight on, some got pumped and actually started accelerating towards the hill. I saw them again later.

After the hill I kept the pace just a bit slower than 8:00/pace to let the legs recover from the hill. By mile 7 I started to accelerate, covering the last three miles at about 7:40/mile pace.

Knowing the roads had its advantage too. By mile 8 I was accelerating smoothly and passing folks left and right. The final hard left turn was about 1/2 mile out from the finish. That last 1/2 mile was covered at about 5:30/pace, crossing the line at 5:10/pace.

Goal: <1:20
Actual: 1:18:52

Waiting for the Shoe to Drop

Well, it’s now been over sixty hours since I finished my 41.5 mile run.  And I’m waiting.

Waiting for the muscle soreness.  Waiting for the pain.  Waiting for the stiffness.

Later that day, after a 4-hour nap, I walked normally to work.  Yesterday, I was bounding up the stairs, two at a time; doing it again today.

I did have a bit of tightness this morning, but I can attribute that more to sleeping on the concrete pad while waiting for the weather to clear so I could catch a helo ride back to my bed.

I even went to the gym today.  Rode the bike for 30 minutes, did some stretching and some strength work.

But when’s the shoe going to drop?

40!

Well, it’s a few more days until I hit that milestone.  Honestly, just another day in my book.  But today, as part of the B-Fit Birthday Challenge, as well as giving me something to focus on for training while here in Iraq, I ran 40 miles (well, 41.5) in celebration of my fitness.  But before I get to the report:

Thank you all so much for your generosity!  So far you’ve managed to donate almost $700 to the Fisher House, which is incredible.  Absolutely incredible.  I’ve had donations from family, friends, the blogging community, as well as complete strangers who heard what I was doing through word of mouth (or e-mail).  Your generosity is astounding.  THANK YOU!

Anyway, on to the run.

I started off at 11:50pm, about 5 minutes behind schedule.  Nice and cool, a slight breeze, the waning moon climbing in the eastern sky.  The first 27 miles, which I ran solo, went by very quickly.  Very comfortable too.  The temperature at midnight was 88F (31C) and it cooled down to 77F (25C) before sunrise.  Now, keep in mind that temperature range is very cool for me; you might recall that all of my long runs this summer started with temps around 106F (41C) and would often never cool below 100F (38C) the entire time.  So this was a welcome change.  Matter of fact, there were points on the run that I actually felt chilled!

I started off at a very comfortable 11:00/mile pace, which was my average pace goal for the entire run.  The next few miles were actually quicker, dropping down into the 10:40s.  I maintained a steady pace, using the 4-minute run/1-minute walk strategy that has served me well.  By mile 13, my average pace dropped below 10:30/mile, which was quite a bit quicker than I had planned.  But I was feeling good and my heart rate stayed right where I needed it to be, so I kept at it.  By mile 26 I was down to a 10:24/mile average pace and actually hit 26.2 miles (full marathon) just 4 minutes off of my PR for that distance!  I was feeling strong.

The overall pace dropped slightly over the next 10 miles, then the wheels came off right after mile 36.  Even then I was able to hold a decent forward motion and I knew I was going to finish.  Here’s the accumulated pace (bars) overlaid with my actual pace for that mile (line):

Note that refueling are off the clock.  Although not reality for an organized run, had I left the clock running while I was doing those things, I’ve found that it really messing with my overall pace and gives me an unrealistic picture of my effort.  In a supported race, I’d have someone handing me my fuel.

Anyway, the last 10 miles were a 15K race that happened to be scheduled for this morning.  It worked out perfect, since all of the folks that planned on supporting me during the last 10 miles also planned on doing that run.  When I first started planning this run, all I asked was for support during that last 10 miles, knowing that’s when I’d need it most.

I got to the start line about 30 minutes prior to the race start.  It worked out perfect, since I was able to change socks, shoes and shirt.  The dry clothes felt great.  Plus, I had a chance to eat some real food.  Anyway, the race started about 15 minutes late, but I was OK with that.  The pre-race brief really put my whole run into perspective.  The unit that had organized the run lost one of their own this past week, leaving behind a pregnant wife and 5 year old son.  The race was dedicated to him.

Cruising through the crowd, it was fun to listen to the folks complaining about how they felt at mile 3.  I coulndn’t help but smirk as I went by.  The course was a fun course, being more a trail run that an road run.  It was a welcome change, especially since the first 30 miles were all on asphalt.  But the way they soak down the dirt, it becomes harder than concrete and nowhere near as smooth.  But I was pretty adept at finding lines in the softer sand.  Even through this stretch, my run pace was averaging 9:00/mile, while the walk breaks kept my mile splits between 10:00  and 10:30/mile pace.

After mile 36, we transitioned from the dirt roads back to the asphalt.  The transition between these two runs flipped the switch.  A small rise and turn and that was it.  Immediately, the legs decided they just weren’t going to move as fluid as they had.  So I just kept working through it.  My overall pace started dropping pretty rapidly, but I knew I was going to finish.

At mile 37.5, I stepped into the porta-loo.  That was a good sign, since I was doing everything I could to make sure I remained properly hydrated.  For some reason I decided to stop my Garmin, which I never do for a potty stop.  And since it’s something I don’t normally do, I didn’t restart it.  I realized that mistake 1.5 miles later.  And since part of the requirements for the B-Fit Birthday challenge are to post a bit of proof, I needed to make sure my Garmin showed at least 40.0 miles.  So my 40-mile run now became a 41.5-mile run.

But that was OK, since it lined up well with another run I was participating in.  The folks that put on the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon had put together a 42-mile “fun run”, which just happened to be today.  No entry fee, no support, just folks getting together to run.  Pretty much what I was doing, so I signed up as the Baghdad contingent.

Those last miles were tough.  My watch was beeping at me to keep me on schedule for the 4-minute run/1-minute walk plan, but I ignored it.  Luckily my very understanding support crew kept supporting me even though they were beginning to hurt too.  When I wanted to just walk the rest of the way, they’d wordlessly start running, knowing I’d follow.  So we managed to get across the line.

Details:

40.0 miles

Total running time: 7:15:57

Total clock time: 8:25

Fastest pace a 3:58 mile?  Yeah, right.

And the quick GBU rundown:

The Good:

– I absolutely nailed this taper.  Perfect.  Although I had struggled with maintaining a high mileage peak during August and I was concerned, the taper really set me up for a great run.  Even a week ago, I was starting to get concerned, but then this week I could feel my legs getting real twitchy and just begging for a long run.  Even last Sunday’s half-marathon was just a tease for them.  This week’s nightly 3-4 mile runs were just a tease too.

– Carbo load period.  This was difficult for me to get through.  Having done an excellent job of sticking to a Paleo/Primal diet, the only way that I could load properly for this run was to eat stuff that I hadn’t had in almost five months.  And honestly, I hadn’t missed it.  By the time I woke up just prior to the run, I knew that I had loaded properly, feeling completely bloated.  I know the load was a signficant part of my success.

– Electrolyte load period.  Hindsight over my past race issues pointed to a lack of electrolytes, even though I regularly take pills during the events; turns out that those were just staving off the inevitable, which was compelete depletion, since I’m such a heavy sweater.  Discussing with other endurance athletes, we came to the conclusion that I’d likely need to load up on electrolytes in the days prior to the event.  I did, and it worked very well.  None of the issues that I had in the past.

– Pacing.  Working (and working, and working) on pacing during my long runs this year has really helped.

– Thanks to Ramadan, the call to prayer started at 3am.  I can’t describe how beautiful the prayers sound, echoing through the night.

– Great support!  Not just here, but around the world.  A co-worker ran with me virtually while in Afghanistan, Goddess ran with me in Kentucky, and the many folks here who supported me via e-mails and actually running.  I couldn’t have done it without them.

– 40 miles!

The Bad:

– Doing something out of practice.  Stopping that Garmin at mile 37.5 really changed the face of the last few miles.  I knew I’d have to run a bit past the finish line of the 15K to make the full 40, but having to run a full two miles after that was mentally tough.

The Ugly:

– ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

And for now, a few days off from running, then nothing focused for a little while.  But not too long, since I now need to teach my legs how to run hills over distance, since I’ll be running the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey marathon soon after I return home.  And that marathon is nothing but hills.

Mars

Photo © Navyweaxguy from SSP

That’s what it looked like around these parts earlier this week.  That pic was taken at 4:30 pm.  No filters or Photoshop trickery.  That was really it.

It started Sunday and lasted through Wednesday.  But Tuesday afternoon was the most vivid orange anyone could remember seeing.

BTW, those structures are what we call “T-Walls”, due to their shape.  Their purpose is to contain shrapnel should a mortar, rocket, or other explosive make its way to camp.

Luckily the dust has cleared out.  It’s taper week and I’m now 72 hours out from starting my 40-miler.  I’m looking forward to it.

PR! But not mine

From this past Sunday, posted today due to internets access issues here in my room.

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Ran a half-marathon this morning.

It was the “shadow run” of the Roadrunner Akron Marathon. But due to infrastructure and heat issues, the longest we can do here is a 1/2 marathon.

The course was for the most part new to me. I hadn’t run a large portion of this course, so it was a nice change of pace. The scenerey was about as good as it could get along tree-lined streets. The only downside was that they ran out of water at one of the stops, which turned out to be a problem for others, but not for me. I was sporting my Fuel Belt and carrying my Quickdraw water bottles, so I had plenty for the entire run. Matter of fact, as we passed the “empty” water stop, I passed my bottle to a lady who was desperately in need of some water.

read the rest here…

Low Octane

“Glycogen is the fuel, but electrolytes are the octane” is a paraphrase of a quote that I read somewhere some time back. It was related to Ironman training.

So I discovered how true that was on this weekend’s long run. And with a bit of hindsight, realized that’s what happened to me during last year’s Iron-distance DNF.

The backstory is this – typical Iraqi summer, with afternoon temps in the mid-oneteens. Nothing out of the ordinary there. But Friday night, the air conditioner in the office caught fire. Luckily we were there and I gave it a puff from the fire extinguisher to put it out. Jump to Saturday. The office is a sauna. Outside it was 115-ish with low single-digit humidity. In the office, which is on the third floor of the building we’re in, is easily mid-90’s with significant humidity. To put it politely, we’re sweating our balls off. But I do know we’ve still got it good compared to the guys out on patrol.

Anyway, recognizing that it’s a sauna in our office and I’ve got a long (27-mile) run scheduled for that evening, I’m pouring down the water. Several liters through the afternoon. A good dinner, more water and then it’s out for the run.

Since it’s such a long run and I’m working 12-hour days, I start earlier than normal (8pm) when it’s still 106F. The first few miles aren’t quick, but that’s OK; I’m in this one for the long haul, expecting about 5 hours to finish, which gets me back to the room at 1 am, with enough time to eat, shower and get about 5 hours sleep before heading back to the sauna. Not ideal, but it is what it is.

The goal is to keep the pace at a relatively pedestrian 11-minute mile using a 4-minute run/1-minute walk strategy. Ingest 100 calories every 20 minutes and three Endurolytes once an hour on the :50’s. Which is exactly what I did.

Again, started off a bit slow, but I was warming up. By mile 5 I was averaging 10:46, which was a bit quick, so I backed off just a hair. For the next 7 miles, I kept it right at about 10:55’s, which is right where I needed to be. Fueling and hydration were right on schedule, including a couple of unscheduled pee breaks. Good hydration in the 100F+ heat.

At mile 12, the wheels came off. Actually, I didn’t realize it until mile 13, when I had stopped to refill my water bottles (for the second time). Looking back at my Garmin data is when I realized that it happened in mile 12. I went from keeping a nice consistent 10:55′ish pace to 12:45. Just like that. Someone had flipped a switch.

I had the energy. I could feel that. But the legs just weren’t firing. I could get up to a shuffle, but that wouldn’t last long. I was better off walking, even though it was flat. No amount of talking to my legs would get them to change.

At mile 15, which was my regularly scheduled fuel/water stop, I turned off the watch and called it a night. Sure, I could have tried to tough it out and see if it got better, but having been there before during last year’s IM-distance race, I knew that it wouldn’t. I’d just continue to do a zombie shuffle.

Fast forward to today. It’s still 115 outside. I’ve been drinking fluids all morning, but still hadn’t pushed the electrolytes, other than the few pills I popped as soon as I got back to the room. I’m well fueled, but standing up and getting dizzy as hell. Even though I was peeing clear, dehydration had apparently set in. I sucked down three liters of water with two Nuun tablets in each one before I even started to feel remotely normal again.
By then it was already late enough in the day that I decided that the best course of action was to bag tonight’s run. No sense in pushing my luck tonight. Tomorrow’s my normally scheduled rest day, so I’ll just do tonight’s run tomorrow.

Looking back at the last two days, I know that I was fueled just fine. Matter of fact, even after putting in the 15 miles last night, I ended up with a 300-calorie surplus for the day. But I know now that I had a stale tank of gas, with no octane.

And I’m glad it happened. Only 20 days until I run my 40-miler. And that’s a lesson I’m glad I don’t have to learn that day.