Today I had my longest run to date of 15 miles. I was pumped, and my excitment could not be contained about how much I was looking forward to this run. (this is becoming the case with each run as they get longer and longer) Not only was it going to be my first run at this distance, it was also going to be my first long run using HEED as my primary source of nutrition on the run along with some gels. In the past I used HEED on some shorter runs, and have had good results. Gatorade seems to get sweeter and sweeter on each run, and lately it has been like candy to my taste buds.
On Friday, the day prior to this run, my son and I were to go to the Florida Marlins versus the New York Metz baseball game. This meant that when I was finished with work I needed to get myself and my son ready, hurry and eat, then drive the 45 minutes to the stadium for the game. That is a bunch of stuff to fit into a relatively short time period. Needless to say, it was McDonalds to the rescue for dinner. I enjoyed a HUGE double quarter pounder with cheese, fries, and coke. Yummy!
The game was pretty exciting, and lasted until a little past 10:00. Add to that the 45 minute drive home. By the time I got cleaned up and ready for bed it was almost mid-night, and I had my 15 mile run in the morning.
Normally I like to wake around 5:30, get a small bite to eat, and start running around 6:00am. But because I came home so late I decided to sleep a bit longer and wake at 6:30. My plan seemed solid. I wasn’t hungry because the McDonalds food was such a large amount, I would still get 6.5 hours of sleep, and would happily finish my run.
The next morning I did wake at 6:30, and had my small breakfast of oatmeal and orange juice, and one serving of gel as planned. Filled my Camelbak up with 60 ounces of HEED, drank about 8 ounces that I over-prepared, and also staged my 3 servings of gel. So far, so good. I felt pretty good also. So I got geared up and headed out on the open road.
I was running along, feeling GREAT, and was thinking that this was going to be a great run. At 4 miles in I was feeling pretty good, and was estimating that I was running at a 9:30/mile pace. Things couldn’t have looked better. The sun was starting to rise and the sky was beautiful. It was going to be a great day.
Mile number 5 I felt the need to empty my bladder, so was thinking that I would visit my normal spot and then continue normally. It was good timing since I was only 3 more miles to the spot I normally stop at when this happens. (I have run this route many times, even though not the entire 15 miles.) Little did I know that my day was about to change…drastically.
I made it to the stop, did my business, and started running again. However, I noticed a HUGE difference in my energy levels. I was at mile 8 and had 7 more to go, but felt like I had already ran 12 or 13 judging from my past experiences. I was getting so tired with each step it was startling. I had consumed normal amounts of HEED, and also eaten a gel at 4 miles, and was about to eat another at 8 miles. I didn’t understand why I was feeling so tired. I kept pushing.
Then two more miles in it dawned on me. I had not eaten anything the evening prior except for the McDonalds meal. Many warnings started playing through my mind from others that inform eating right is important. I had made a vital mistake. Even though I eat pretty well on all other days, this one infraction against the running gods was going to be painful for me. But I was at mile 10, and surely it couldn’t be that hard to get 5 more miles done. I was so wrong.
My pace slowed to little more than a shuffle, I was seriously thinking of stopping completely, and the sun became hotter than I remember it, and there was NO SHADE! When I did pass under a tree that provided some shade around mile 12 it was an almost 10 degree difference that sent a chill up my spine. Then it was gone, and soon became a distant memory. I pushed on.
Finally I got to mile14 and knew that the only thing that remained was one straight away. A ONE MILE LONG straight away that looked even longer because I simply wanted to lay down under the sun and die. I took a few sips of hydration and lengthened my stride as I forced myself to finish.
Upon arriving at home I couldn’t wait to get some food, a protein shake, and then jump in the pool. Aaaaaah.
I hereby pledge that I will never do this again. I will ensure that prior to my long runs I eat properly, get plenty of rest, and also leave early enough that the hot sun will be less of an issue. So help me God.