I figured that since this is the longest run so far, I should probably bring some water and nutrition. I have had this Hydration Belt by iFitness since I got it at the L.A. Marathon Expo but haven't really had a need for it yet. Any time you are working out for more than an hour, you should drink some water and eat something. For endurance athletes that can be about 200 calories an hour. I'm not a big fan of gels and other simple sugary dextrose based products as it is hard on my stomach and causes bloating and dehydration. I prefer complex carbs as there insulin profile works better and more evenly raising/lowering my blood sugar instead of the fast spike from the simple sugar products. So I took a Bonk Breakers Bar which has 220 calories and is the perfect mix of complex carbs for me. It is also one of my favorites.
I filled one bottle with coconut water and one with filtered water and put the Bonk Breaker in the pouch. I lubed up my feet, top and bottom with Body Glide and anywhere else I though might begin to chafe after two hours. Then I headed to the start point and began my normal five minute walking warmup.
Have I ever mentioned that I don't stretch before or after I run? Crazy you say? Not at all. I stopped doing it when I noticed that I got injured whenever I stretched. Some people are like that. I used to stretch like a maniac years ago when I did Tae Kwon Do. Can't do it know. even with most careful, non ballistic stretches I was getting hurt. Even if I stretched after! So I quit, and haven't been hurt for a while now.
I knew this run was going to be a good test of my fitness and frankly, I wasn't to sure how far I would get or if I would "bonk" from lack of energy or my body switching over from using glycogen as fuel to fat stores. This can feel very energy depleting. Some marathoners think of it as "hitting the wall."
As soon as I started, it began to rain. Great. . . I live in California where it rarely rains yet the last two times I ran this route, it has rained. I noticed what felt like very large drops hitting my left calf but every where else was a fine mist. I kept feeling it. Finally, I figured out that one of the Hydration bottles was squirting my coconut water each time I ran! The little interior "nipple" was staying in the open position after I took a drink. Mental note: get replacement top from iFitness.
Oh, well. I wrote it off as part of the experience and just decided that I would run for two hours in the rain if needed. I had Rich Roll's audiobook Finding Ultra in the Yurbuds. Something I have listened to several times.
Interestingly, it stopped a couple miles into it. I headed down Hollywood Way near my house, running past the Burbank airport and Warner Brothers Studios Ranch facility. I felt fine, light on my feet, which is no small task, and completely free to go however far I wanted. Near the halfway point I noticed my heart rate was dropping and honestly couldn't remember what my low cutoff was. All I knew was I should probably increase it slightly. So at a stoplight I set my watch so I could only see my heart rate zone. This way I could only focus on that and not the distance or time.
As I neared the end of the run my feet were getting sore but I wanted to finish on a round number of miles so I looked at the Garmin and saw I was at 8.95 miles. Darn it! I kept going. I was hoping to do ten but I think slowing down in the middle took care of that. As soon as I past the nine minute mark, I stopped and then walked for about ten minutes to cool down. Just as I got to the last mile, it was raining again. Weird. By the way, check out this award winning photography!
I was actually kind of bummed. Even though I reminded myself that I went farther than I ever have since I started training. Still a little bummed. Could I have pushed harder? Yes. As a matter of fact, when I got home, I checked my heart rate minimums again and saw that my Z2 is 140-150. Had I maintained about a 145 bpm pace, I most likely would have gone double digits. Even as I write this, I'm thinking this is a milestone run for you and your whining about it!
Here is the other side of it. I realized that I have progressed enough that I can now do a half marathon race. I went from being able to do a 10k to a half marathon. That is pretty awesome.