A Tale of Two Runs

I look happy because, at last, I had reached my parents' house!

I just finished up Week 7 of the Marathon: Own It plan from Train Like a Mother: How to Get Across Any Finish Line - and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity for an October 7 marathon, TBA. Somehow, in what seems like the blink of an eye, I'm now running up to 18 miles in one stint on the weekend, like I did on Saturday. Yet it was a 13-mile run two weeks ago that nearly did me in. Let me tell you about both long runs in an effort to share my lessons learned (which I'll put in bold so ya don't miss 'em).

I was in Connecticut, visiting my parents with my kids for our annual summer visit. The plan called for 13 miles, so off I went--despite it shaping up to be one of the hottest days of the year. I was still getting used to being three hours ahead of Oregon time, so I didn't head out the door until about 7:30 or 8:00. (Head out early when forecast calls for hot temps.) I carried a single water bottle with me, laced with orange nuun; halfway through, I had some workmen refill it from a garden hose. (Carry more fluid, or stash bottles along the way.) In the shade, I felt decent; in direct sunlight, I was like a vampire, nearly bursting into flames. (Plan the shadiest route possible.) My willpower was flagging as quickly as my energy, and I did, for me, the unthinkable: I slowed to a walk several times. (When your body tells you to slow down or even walk, do it.) I scanned every yard and driveway, hoping for a sign of life so I could ask for more water. (Run at least part of your run past civilization or commerce.) By the time my mileage reached double-digits, I was getting concerned about heat exhaustion; if I'd had my iPhone instead of iPod, I would have called for a ride. (Carry your phone in iffy weather, if not all your runs.) There were no signs of human life...except for a half-full bottle of Poland Springs by the side of the road. Against my better judgment--but in desperation--I picked it up and poured a bit of the near-scorching water on my hand. It didn't burn like acid, and it didn't smell foul. So, yes, I did: I drink the found water. (Again, stash water bottles of your own along your planned route.) The fluid revived me, and allowed me to finish the 13 miles, but it was one of the ugliest runs I've ever done.

In contrast, Saturday's 18-miler was a thing of beauty. We were visiting relatives on the Oregon coast for the weekend, and I set out before anyone else in the house was awake. The skies were overcast, and the temperature hung around 60 the entire three hours I was running. I was unfamiliar with the area, but my husband's cousin had suggested I run south instead of north, thus avoiding monster climbs and more traffic. (Ask advice if you're running in a new-for-you location.) I listened to several podcasts (including ours!) on my iPhone. I ran nine miles out, then turned around, fueling at miles 4, 8, 12, and 16 (figure out your fuel intake in advance--and stick to your plan). I drank nuun from my Amphipod belt, but when I spied a roadside cafe--and later a drive-up coffee cart--I stopped to drink more water. (Again, listen to your body and run by places where you can get assistance, if need be.) By Mile 13, instead of feeling like death warmed over as I had two weeks prior, I felt strong and in charge. There was no doubt in my mind I was going to finish this run in great shape; it was merely a matter of ticking off the miles.

When I finished, the phrase that kept running through my head was a line from a song my son made up at age 3 at a backyard party where a garage band was playing. "Rock star; princess. Rock star; princess."

Whenever my hubby or I feel like a star, we sing John's line, "Rock star; princess"

25 responses to “A Tale of Two Runs

  1. Jane, are you running the NY Double this year? I live in Allen. Didn’t run last year, but thinking about it this year.

  2. I had a similar morning run last week (12 miler) and actually ended up vomiting when I got home. My new resolution is to do those runs in the evening instead. I live in Phoenix and it never seems to cool off for morning runs during this time of year. I get excited when the daily low is 80. Sometimes we’ll have strings of days where the thermometer doesn’t drop below 90. We’re now in monsoon season and morning is when humidity is at its highest, but nothing compared to FL or GA, I’m sure. Still, by 7:30 am we’re usually in the 90s with humidity around 40-50%. I have found I prefer to run in the evening. It may be hot, but the humidity is much lower than it is in the morning, which seems to take less of a toll. Plus, it gives me all day to get hydrated before my run. 🙂

  3. You’re making me feel like a total badass just for living in CT! I know just the weather you are talking about – it was awful.

  4. Wow! Your 13 miler totally describes the 13 mile run my friend and i just did last friday. I was nauseous and dizzy by the end. This week i have a 14 mile run scheduled and plan to hydrate and fuel much better this time! Thanks for the great reminders.

  5. This post totally had me laughing. When we don’t follow “the rules,” (i.e., proper hydration), we definitely end up paying for it. Glad I’m not the only one who should know better but occasionally has head-scratching moments.

  6. I am continually shocked at how much the heat and humidity down here in my hometown of Savannah, Georgia is affecting my longer runs. But I just keep telling myself that I’m gonna be able to whoop some ass when the cooler Fall temps return, lol! 😉

  7. This was my exact situation for my 18 this Saturday and last weekends long run (also on the Own It plan for a 10/7 full… PDX!). Anyway, I feel your pain and glad you made it! Rock on rock star princess. 🙂

  8. Such a great post – I ran 12.5 today, and the first 10 miles, I felt like a running goddess. I was well hydrated, but I guess I didn’t plan my fueling too well, even though I had gu chomps with me and was eating one every 15 minutes. After a 5 mile nonstop trail, I was back to civilization with 2 miles, and 6 stoplights, left to go. Every time I stopped, I felt like my energy drained even more, and I began to shake. During the last mile, even though I wanted so badly to run, I couldn’t help but walk most of it. You are so right, we have to walk when our body tells us to. I am going to work on my fuel plan, and hopefully finish like a rock star, princess on my next run!

  9. OK, your sipping water out of a bottle off the street surpasses my accidental barefoot debut. WOW, and you think I am crazy! We are crazy together! Desperate times call for desperate actions! Way to go!…Beyond Bad ASS!

    1. Thanks for allowing me to see the “badass” side of my crazy move. Good spin!

      Drinks are on ME next time we’re in NC 😉

  10. I can totally relate to your first run. I just got back from my vacay in MX to CT ad the weather is foul. Hot and Humid. have been out twice (5 and 4 miles) and have felt just awful. We are in the 90s with humidity up to 80%. I have had to walk some even though I loathe walking but my body needed me to slow down. I would have totally drank the water bottle also, so no need to feel bad about it!!!. So glad to hear it got better. I was able to get a very decent 6 mile tempo run in MX City even though altitude there is bad… but weather was perfect. overcast and cool. Can’t wait for September 🙂

    1. I still can’t believe that weather is so much BETTER in Mexico in the summer than CT. (Okay, I realize the effect altitude can have…) Nutty!

      Sorry we didn’t get chance to run together in CT. Next summer, Iliana. Glad you had a good trip. xo

  11. Thanks for the tips and the bold highlights. I’m glad your 13 miler gave you information that helped you rock the 18 mile run!

  12. Great advice, Sarah, all of it! And, for the record, I would have done the same with the half bottle. I recently had a long run, a (gulp) 26.2-miler, that I started too late in the morning. I had done a good job at stashing *frozen!* Gatorade and water along the route. Therefore, I was well hydrated. However, with Hotlanta humidity and temps at 86 for the last 30 minutes, I became light-headed and nauseous. At mile 19 I even stopped, babbled, and hugged a tree for several minutes! Most sane people would have just quit, but I was being accompanied by a Kenyan friend who was helping me train out of the goodness of his heart. I just couldn’t let myself give up. I managed to finish, but it wasn’t pretty. Without hydration, I know I would have been a goner. Your story is one all of us should read and heed. I’m so glad your next, longer, run was so much more pleasant!

    1. WoW, a 26.2-mile TRAINING run, Gail. My (sweaty) hat is off to you! I caught flack from a running journalist for not cutting my run short or rescheduling for another day, but there was no break in heat forecast.

      We can split a found bottle of water next time we see each other 😉

  13. Glad you survived the run! As someone living and running in hot, steamy Florida, I have another suggestion for running on hot days: ditch the tights/capris and opt for shorts or skirts. Even if your capris are moisture wicking, they still trap the heat and reduce air ventilation, which helps to not overheat. (Personally, I wear shorts unless it’s in the low 40s or colder, but that’s personal preference – I’d rather be cool than overheat.) Good luck with your training!

    1. I used to be totally be in the “capris only if it’s cold” camp, but when push comes to shove btwn chafing and hot thighs, I go for the latter. I wore even more serious capris in Boston Marathon. There was NO air movement so I figured I wasn’t depriving myself of anything…but I see your point about trapping heat.

  14. off topic, but i love your top. what is it?

    this week i begin to pick up millage to train for back to back halfs over new years eve/new years day after taking off much of the beginning of the year i am nervous about those long runs. but, i am also looking forward to feeling like all i need to do is check off those last miles as the runs become second nature.

    1. Are you doing the New Years Double in Allen, TX? I did double halfs there last year and NYE is my PR. The thing I think helped me the most was running back to back long runs in training. I didn’t get them all in, but by the end I knew I could do back to back 12s, so I knew I could do the extra mile those 2 days.

      Good luck!

      1. no, i will be running in the california bay area while visiting my inlaws for the holidays. thanks for that long run tip- i hadnt even though about doubling up some long distances, but its a great idea.

      2. Jane, I replied to this but some reason it posted as a “new” post. Anyhow, are you running the NY DBL this year? I live in Allen and I’m thinking about it. Just don’t want to over do it–Chicago full, Dallas 1/2, and then the NY dbl–my body may need a break after Dallas. BUT you know how runners are.

  15. Loved your advice. A bad run never feels good, but we all have them and learn from them. I am on week 5 of TLAM Finish It for NYC (my frist Full), and I think I’ll need your advice as the long runs are climbing! Thanks for your post.

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