After painful calf cramping on my last two long runs, and a week where I generally ignored my midweek running -- I limited myself to four miles on Tuesday not out of laziness but due to exhaustion from one of the busiest and most stressful work weeks I've had in the last five years -- I had been extremely doubtful that I could run the 19 miles that Hal Higdon had ordered me to run this weekend.
I'd driven south the Hanover Junction access point on the York County Heritage Rail Trail, knowing that I needed to choose a less hilly setting to have any chance at reaching my goal, but I was not optimistic until that moment when I stepped out on the trail. I felt light. I felt fast. I was Kenyan. An extremely slow, pale Kenyan, but a Kenyan nonetheless.
My plan was to turn around at mile 5, refill my bottles at Hanover Junction, and then head south 4.5 miles and back. However, I felt so good at mile 5 that I kept right on going. I contemplated going all the way to the trail head at York, but a quick assessment of my water and Gatorade supply made me think that was a bad idea. So, I turned around after about 8.2 miles.
I started to struggle a bit at about mile 15, but after a refilling stop at Hanover Junction, with 16.4 miles under my belt, I felt I could run a bit farther south and turn around to bring me back to my starting point with 20-mile mark. But then, I met an old friend from Shamrock: The Wall. I crashed pretty hard at just under 18 miles. I turned around and struggled northward and stopped at 19. I was sore but not injured, but my legs just couldn't go one more step and I felt like I would be risking injury to press on in pursuit of a (in this case) meaningless mile.
So, I probably fell a little short of the "amazing" I felt I could achieve at the beginning of this run. I'd have loved 20 and it would have been a huge confidence boost (probably to the point that I'd be unbearably cocky and everyone would hate me), but this was my second-farthest run ever, and I'm really happy with it. I think the cool conditions at the start made it a pretty good simulation of the marathon, and I think I repeated a key tactical mistake that I also made at the Shamrock Marathon.
A few brief lessons learned/confirmed:
- Try harder to put the "S" in LSD -- I ended up at 19 miles in 3:19:36, putting me at a 10:28 pace, which is not far off my usual long run pace. As slowly as I was shuffling those last 2-3 miles, this means I was probably going way too fast somewhere along the route. I don't think my lame-o Garmin keeps accurate speed on the trail, but I have to do a better job of making sure I feel like I'm going slow. This was my undoing at Shamrock, too.
- More midweek miles are needed -- I didn't really hit the wall until mile 22 at Shamrock. I think more midweek runs, including back-to-back days, which are not my SOP when not on a training plan, gave me more endurance even though my longest pre-race training run was 18 miles.
- That Reebok visor I bought in the summer? Awesome. This seems like it was the first really sunny long run day in at least a month. It warmed up toward the end of the run (It was in the low 50s when I started, but was probably around 65 by the end), but this was the sunny, cool dry run where I think the visor is perfect. I definitely need to bring it to Philly.
- EAT BEFORE YOU RUN 19 MILES, IDIOT. I hate feeling "full" when I run, but the 3:00am peanut-butter sandwich would have probably helped me get that last mile in.
- There's no such thing as too much BodyGlide.
- When starting from Hanover Junction, there's more shade running north toward York. If I do other long runs on the trail, and I plan to, I might get a belt with more water bottles, so that I can run all the way to the end of the trail and back without running out of fluids.