Nothing makes marathon training more real to me than running an 18 miler. Until I hit that point I can just pretend I'm messing around and continue to talk about how far away the race is. But the 18 miler is like a semi truck of reality for me. And that is what I got hit by yesterday. A semi truck.
I started an hour before I met everyone to say hi. Just me and my pepper spray ready to take on a sleepy campus. It was actually a very peaceful 5 miles to start. I realized I had forgotten my salt tablets, but it was a perfectly cool morning so I was sure I'd be fine. I did almost mace a runner guy that came bolting out of a driveway that was surrounded by trees. He didn't do anything wrong, but perhaps he could constantly announce his presence during his run? No? Ok. So the first 5 was good. Except I kept feeling like my pace wasn't matching my effort. Oh well, met up with the group to get my water belt, down a gel, and head off for the next 7 mile loop. I pull out my music, Ipod is dead. Ok, I don't really need music. Just keep running. By the the 5th or so mile of this loop my shins were starting to ache. This shin pain is not quite shin splints but some kind of horrible leg tightening that always happens to me while road running when my weekly mileage starts to creep into the 30s. It is always there, but occasionally it barks very loudly during runs.
So my shins were hurting, my knees were hurting, and my tummy was growling. And my pace was slowing. Fan-freaking-tastic. Back to the car, another gel, fill up water belt, ditch planned route, just 6 more miles. Onward! Running has become shuffling, walking has become much more common, and pace has been thrown out the window. My new mantra is GET THE F$%#ING MILES IN! Just forward movement. Then the full body cramps come in. AHHHH!!! My whole body is locked up in pain. But what do you do? Storming into the nice Saturday Brunch place and grabbing a salt shaker was definitely an option I considered. But I abstained. Thankfully, my route I was making up had me run into a few friends that allowed me some fantastic reasons to stop and chat. And then I was done. This run was about one third ok, one third oh well it's just a training run, and one third total shit show.
BUT! Training runs are just that... TRAINING (you see, that's why them call them that. Clever huh?) Training runs are great for upping mileage and learning what works and what doesn't work. I learned a lot about what doesn't work on yesterday's long run.
1) Tiny peanut butter chocolate chip sugar ball candy things do not a breakfast make. Eat something real. What was I thinking?
2) Bring salt pills. Duh.
3) Make sure your stupid Ipod is charged if you want to listen to music. Oops.
4) This shin pain isn't getting any better on it's own. Must be more diligent about rolling out and compression.
5) You can make it through a shit show run. F'ing awesome.