I ran 18 miles in 3 hours, 7 minutes, and 47 seconds. Afterwards, I decided that running is stupid and no one should ever do it.
Shortest. Post. Ever.
I kid, I kid. I specialize in the long, rambling blog post and we all know it. And this one is really rambling, even by my standards. Sorry about that!
I had a much nicer day for a long run than I did last week. It was in the low 50s when I started and remained cool and overcast for the duration. Though it was a bit humid at the start (but nothing like last week!), it seemed to get cooler and less humid as the run continued. Perfect! I was trying to get an early start to beat the rain, and I did.
Despite the cool weather, however, I just wasn't feeling this as I started out. My stomach didn't feel great and my legs felt tired. It was a bad week of running -- I just didn't get my midweek mileage in. That explains my dead legs. The stomach troubles I attribute to something I ate the night before at the Revolution game. I suspect the turkey wrap, which I thought would be the perfect pre-long run dinner. (Or the best I could do at the Revs game).
After a mile or two, though, I felt fine. The temperature was comfortable; my Shuffle was rockin', and the miles were flying by. My plan was to run my usual 10 mile route, followed by a similar 8-mile route (which is identical but doesn't have the extra loop down toward Mt. Wolf). However, since it was cool and I wasn't sweating as much and drinking water and Gatorade as fast as last week, I decided to put off my refueling stop and extend the first "leg" of my run as much as I could. So I added some loops through Mt. Wolf and as I headed up the steep Chestnut St. hill going back toward my starting/refilling point in Manchester, I was approaching mile 14.
This was where things started to go wrong. I think this hill needs be expunged from my long run routes. My calves, which have been my weakness lately, started cramping up constantly after I ran up this hill. I was stopping to stretch at least every half mile for the rest of the way. The same thing had happened at this point in my run last week, when I climbed the same steep hill going up to mile 12 of 17. I'm not afraid of hills, but this hill is much steeper than anything Philly (I think) or Shamrock (I know) has to throw at me. Luckily, I had fewer post-hill miles to go, and was able to finish my 18.
I was pretty significant pain when I got home, and basically fell down on the floor in the kitchen before I could summon great resolve (sarcasm!) needed to make some chocolate milk (the recovery drink for when you don't by recovery drink mixes) and peel a banana (gotta keep those potassium levels up!). However, after sitting for a couple minutes, I was able to comfortably do my stretching and foam rolling, which I wasn't able to do last week after my long because my quads were cramping so badly. A little soreness today, but overall I feel better than I did last weekend.
This long run was definitely a success. I was scheduled for 18 miles, and achieved it without injury. The cool weather and my Shuffle (especially the new Blink-182 album) made the first 14 miles relatively enjoyable. Mentally, I'm not sure I was as psyched up for this as I could have been. Because of the cool weather and the possibility of having split it over 2 days because of bad weather I don't think I respected the distance as much as I should have. Hence, two beers and french fries at the Revs game the night before; and then during the run I never had that moment of determination that I had in last week's disgusting run: "I am going to finish this run no matter what." I mentioned that I felt after my gross 17 last week that I'd won a race -- mentally, I probably rested on my laurels when I could ill afford to so and took every excuse not to get my midweek miles in.
The Philadelphia Marathon is only 49 days away. I can't lose focus now. Next week is scheduled to be a step-back week, 13 miles, followed by 19 and 20 miles the next two weeks. However, due to a very busy Saturday in two weeks, I think I'll try the 19 next week and step back the following week. (If anyone reading this has reasons why that's a terrible idea, I'd love to hear 'em.). I'm hoping to run that 19 somewhere a bit flatter to get a real gauge of how far from being ready I am. 18 was as long a distance as I got in training for Shamrock, and though I definitely hit the wall badly on race day, at no point were my calves cramping like they have been on these last two long runs.