I knew it was inevitable, but I’m down to 10 weeks until the Disney Marathon, which means the onset of long training runs. Like, really crazy long. So I knocked one of them out on Sunday while I was in town and my husband could watch our son for 4 hours after church. (My training plan calls for a 20-miler this Saturday anyway, so I flip-flopped the weeks). I drove to One Gorgeous Local Park to do long laps… every two laps is a 5k, but I set my RunKeeper app to track my exact mileage. I chose to do laps so that I’d have access to my car for water/Gatorade breaks as needed, instead of carrying all of that liquid on me. I did keep my GU with me in my SPIBelt.
Gorgeous Park also had one bathroom open for winter access (I spent forever finding which one was actually open). It only had cold water and no soap, naturally.
Around Mile 8, I started to get bored, so I tried to write a word on my running map using my GPS as I ran. That didn’t work, so I decided to leave the park and head up a dirt trail that looked interesting. It connected to the hilliest golf course I have ever seen. FAIL. But I ran most of it anyway trying to find my way out.
It was so hilly that my GPS lost signal for awhile, so that mileage was unaccounted for, but probably just around 0.2. As golf balls whizzed above my head and golf carts edged past me on the skinny paths, I found the quickest exit and ended up in a small residential neighborhood of chain link fences, dirty sidewalks, and vicious dogs. Second FAIL. I consulted my RunKeeper app and made the appropriate turns to get me back to the safety and familiarity of One Gorgeous Local Park.
This was about the time that the army recruits came out to run timed laps. They ran about two laps from what I could see, so about 3 miles, then they disappeared.
I took lots of pictures of foliage as I ran, noting the slight changes of sunlight hitting the same tree each time I passed. Instead of counting down the miles left, I counted down the hours.
I felt pretty good until about 14.5 miles, which is the max I’d ever run before. My calves snapped into cramps and stayed that way, locked and loaded. No amount of stretching gave any relief. I continued running until about mile 17.5, when I began to wonder whether I was even walking or running; I couldn’t feel much anymore! And I was FREEZING! When I tried to walk, it provided no relief – it felt like I had just woken up after a day of horse-back riding. The next time I passed my car, I grabbed a long-sleeve tech shirt -it felt amazing! This is when I began to seriously consider investing in a pair of compression sleeves for my calves. They were $40 at the last race expo I went to, but our virtual race bag offered a deal to get them for $27. Does anyone have recommendations for these? Brands? Do they help with muscle cramps?
I finally finished and relished in putting on a sweatshirt, sweatpants, flipflops, and sitting on some chilly brick steps eating a recovery bar, a banana, and rehydrating with (more) Gatorade and water.
When I got home, I enjoyed homemade chili straight from the crock pot, a tall glass of chocolate milk, and several cornbread muffins straight from the oven, thanks to my amazing husband. I passed him the relay baton, and he headed out to run 17 miles on his own in the dark (he’s training for the Goofy – a half marathon Saturday, a full on Sunday) while my Jello legs stayed home on baby duty.
And note to self: if you’re telling a work colleague the next morning that you were up at 1 AM eating everything you could find that was remotely salty in the kitchen, and you omit the part about running 20 miles the day before, she will assume you are pregnant.