Tough 18

My training plan called for an 18 miler this week. Due to working 3rd shift I had to work thins around and make it happen this Wednesday. I’m working 3rd shift tonight, and the next night followed by a weird turn around. There is no way I could have run this on Saturday. I plan to sleep in and maybe to my tempo then.

I’ve been dreading this one a little bit. It sounded scary. 18 miles, really? Sure there is still 8 miles to go to get to marathon distance, but still.
I woke up at 10:30, had a bagel with almond butter and honey. Unfortunately I was out of bananas so I had a glass of chia seeds (aka frog eggs in my head) with a splash of lemon juice and agave syrup.
I started running around noon, it was already 68F outside.

Now let me say it now, I picked a tough run. I knew it, it was on purpose. After all the Blue Ridge Marathon is tough. Not only is it a marathon (duh!) but it’s hilly, as in you climb 1200 feet in the first 7 miles. Not only that but there is a 500 feet climb starting at mile 17 too. So I picked a loop called Squirrel Loop: 17 miles, 810f of elevation change (that does not show in any way how much uphill and downhill are involved) and rated 18 out of 20 on the difficulty level. Yes please, call me nuts right now. Should I also say that I’m on the first day of my cycle? (Women will understand that one).

So tough it was. The first 5 miles are a straight uphill on forest road with the 810f climb on forest road. Then it’s downhill for about 2 miles. The first 8 miles or so I had cramps/side stitches on both sides, I though it might be what I ate at first, but now I think it may have more to do with my cycle. Anyhow, either I tuned it off or it went away by Mile 8ish. I took a break, texted my husband that I was about halfway. I couldn’t bear the though to tun the first crazy uphill of Sidehill trail, so I walked it. I ran on the trail all the way to Bent Creek Rd, then back uphill on South Ridge Forest Rd. I can’t say this is my favorite. It shouldn’t be called South Ridge but the Southern Roller Coaster. Seriously that’s all it does for miles.

Past the Apex I started wanting to walk. I took a mini break at some point and could tell my legs were hurting. But I kept on going, I told myself to walk when I would reach the uphill of Hardtime connector. It took some willpower! I alternated water with GU Brew and GU Roctane throughout my run. But by the end of the run, maybe around mile 13 or 14, all I could think about was the cold Emergen-C water waiting in the car. I swear that water is the only reason I finish running!

I finally reach Hardtime FR and the blissful downhill. Of course I had to add a loop around the lake otherwise the run would have been short a mile. It was tough. I just wanted to be done. I did walk the steep uphill of Hardtime connector but then ran all the way back to the car where I texted my husband that I was done, I walked to the bathroom. I could still pee but not much, I knew I was borderline dehydrated. I grabbed my cool drink and then jogged/walked to the creek were I proceeded to cool off as much of my legs as I could without getting my clothes wet. Heaven!

Now long runs recoveries call for eating within the first 30mns. I couldn’t. Just the thought of swallowing food made me feel sick. So I drank. I seriously thought that I might feel sick from all the fluids I swallowed. It turns out that I needed that water bad enough that it caused not problem whatsoever.

Once home I had a ripe pear straight out of the fridge. It suddenly tasted like the best thing in the world: sweet,juicy and cold. I did manage to eat a mini luna bar and helped myself to an other glass of chia/lemon/agave to replenish by body and provide some proteins. My next recovery choice was to set myself up for a nap on the deck, bliss! Once I woke up I stretched with the foam roller and told my husband he was in charge of dinner.

And now I need to have dinner and work third shift. I wish I could go to bed instead!

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