Okay, I’m being a little dramatic. My run today was bad, but I’m still alive, I’m not bleeding profusely, and my bones/muscles/organs all still seem to be functioning.
It’s been a tough few weeks for me on the training circuit. Prior to Hershey, I skipped two planned runs, bringing my total of skipped runs for this marathon training cycle to three. Although I met my time goal at Hershey, it took a lot out of me physically. Normally I would be resting completely in the week after a half marathon, but since the marathon is coming up soon, I bounced right back into training.
Well, sorta. This week I skipped yet another run. I just wasn’t feeling it. I tweaked my right shin during my run on Thursday, and I was afraid of legitimately injuring it before my Sunday 20 miler.
So, that 20 miler…
Yeah, it wasn’t pretty.
I had a very restless night’s sleep beforehand (I still don’t understand why—I had fresh flannel sheets on the bed [fresh sheets, especially flannel, are the best!!!] and it was actually quiet). As I was eating breakfast, I had a nasty encounter with a banana (basically the last bite was super chalky and full of those nasty fibrous strings), and I ended up dry heaving for a few minutes. It felt absolutely awful.
Still, I needed to make my run, but at this point I was late. I dashed off to the store much quicker than I normally would (I’m usually early to my morning group runs), but thankfully the group hadn’t left yet. We didn’t get started until 30 minutes past time, which had me a little anxious (I really didn’t want to be running past noon today, cuz, you know, I need to fit in my nap, because I am an eighty-year-old woman).
We were taking on a new route on the group run, and even though I was familiar with the course, I didn’t want to get separated from my peers since we would be going through some slightly sketch parts of town. This was where I made my big mistake.
In the entire time I’ve been training with my run group, I’ve been able to keep up with the 9:30 pacers approximately 10% of the time (the other pods are way too fast or significantly slower than me). Normally I’ll keep up with my mini group for as long as I can, whether that’s a few steps or a few miles. As soon as I start to feel like I’m pushing my limits too much, I back off and do my own thing.
This has worked great in the past, for my 18 miler and other long distances. Today, however, the group was going at a decent clip (it wasn’t anything too different from my normal training pace, but it was super windy today and I am still exhausted from Hershey), and I hit my limit almost instantly.
Instead of breaking away when I tired, I stuck with the group for 7 miles. Once we got back to familiar ground, I slowed to a more manageable pace. By that point, the damage was done. For the rest of the run, I was gasping for breath, like my heart was in my throat (I believe that is a Jillian Michaels quote from one of her DVDs, but I highly doubt she would encourage that same feeling on a 20 miler).
By mile 13, I was completely miserable. I had to stop for frequent walk breaks, my pulse was racing out of control, and the left side of my chest was sore. Not gonna lie, I totally panicked, thinking that I might be experiencing a cardiac event (in reality, I was probably suffering from a combination of overexertion and acid reflux). Rather than turning to the west side of the river trail with my group, I backtracked along the main side. The Head of the Schuylkill Regatta was occurring, and there were medics and policemen everywhere. I thought if I was going to have a heart attack or any other medical emergency, that would be the place to do it, rather than on the more deserted west side of the trail.
|Next year I would like to actually watch the regatta, rather than just scope out the nearest medical assistance.|
I initially pushed through the misery, thinking I could make it to 20 miles, albeit slowly, but at mile 18, my body had other ideas: overcome by a sudden wave of dizziness and nausea, I was forced to stop. Thankfully, I held back vomit (although I came pretty close to emptying my guts all over the sidewalk), and I didn’t pass out, but I was supremely shaky for the next few minutes. I knew I couldn’t make it even two more miles. So, instead of triumphantly running to the end of my first ever 20 miler, I walked home.
I knew I was in bad shape, because I didn’t even feel guilty (and still don’t) about quitting. I just wanted to crawl into bed as soon as possible.
Hours later, I feel mostly recovered, although a walk to the grocery store was somewhat tiring (then again, I ran 18 miles, so there’s that). Over the next few days I will be closely monitoring my pulse, and I will be putting all of my focus on getting good sleep (I am, however, going to try to run easy a few days, as long as I feel like my body can handle it).
I’m hopeful that this was just a temporary setback, but I confirmed through today’s run that nothing is more important than my health. If I have to stop, I have to stop. Too bad, so sad, but sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to. I still have the option of running 20 miles next week if I feel up to it, but otherwise, I will just take my training as it goes.
And I sure as heck will not be worrying about keeping up with the faster runners. Sometimes it’s good to be slow :-)