I completed my longest run since my last marathon--17 miles--on Friday. It was not a good run. The weather outside was eerie, 80 degrees but dark skies and high winds. I thought I would have time to finish 17 miles in the rolling hills just outside of Nashville proper. While I did end up finishing, it wasn't pretty. I felt like death and my toes (one lacking a nail) were throbbing.
For much of this particular route, I run on a busy street where there are lots of cars and the shoulder is only about a food wide before a large ditch. When you combine this narrow margin with high-speed gusts of wind and Nashville drivers, the result is an awful pace which would only look like running if you watched it in fast forward. At one point, a nice old mailman pulled up alongside of me and said "you be careful now, little lady!" For some reason, this made me smile.
The first 5.5 miles or so are on busy streets, but then I turn onto a residential road and head to a beautiful reserve called Radnor Lake. This part of the run always makes me think "Yes, this is why I do this. So beautiful, and so exhilarating at the same time." Upon exiting the reserve, I ran out of water. With about 7 miles to go.
Now, as most people will tell you, I am not a good hidrator. I thank my Ragnar teammates for monitoring my own health as well as theirs. But, 7 miles in 80 degree weather when you have already completed 10 is very difficult. Add the rolling hills and the fact that I had not eaten in over 24 hours, and you get one very tired girl with a headache.
Which brings me to my next concern, I may be verging on disordered eating. Runner's World posted a nice little article on this: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/1,7120,s6-241-285--14203-0,00.html. I know it's terrible to skip meals, but part of me gets a weird sense of deluded triumph when I have maxxed out my burned calories for a day and had barely any caloric intake. Here is how my mind works:
8:00 am: get up, don't want to eat anything large before my run.
9:00 am: start long run, run for three hours.
12:10 pm: collapse on the couch, unable to move
12:30 pm: friend calls, no time to make lunch, assume I'll eat dinner
8:00 pm: I've been out all day, realize I haven't really eaten anything, grab a granola bar and head out for the night
It's a weird combination of not wanting to eat before or directly after my run, juxtaposed with opting to meet up with people when I could be cooking a meal. That all being said, on days where I work at school, I have been packing some spinach, a yogurt, a granola bar, and an apple, and I DO think I'm starting to see some weight loss results! I know it's important to eat, especially when I am running over 30 miles every week, but sometimes it's hard to find the time to eat healthy and on days when i'm faced with eating shitty or eating nothing, they tend to look like equal options.
I made it back to Belmont with about a mile left, and stopped into the Athlete's Store for some water. The man there asked me how far I had to go, and after I told him, he said "You better RUN, and you better go NOW. The storm's about to hit." Very exciting.
I fear this entry ends anti-climactically: made it home, collapsed with a water bottle, then proceeded to attempt an ill-fated trip in the car. Upon being pelted with golf-ball sized hail, returned to my house and put on storm tracker for several hours.
Here's the thing: even though this entry was a bit Debbie Downer, I was extremely proud of myself and inspired that I was able to finish 17 miles. Even on the worst runs, having the mental stamina to stick something out when my body is complaining, feels like an accomplishment. And perhaps that's why I love this sport so much--it makes me feel determined and satisfied.