Monday, September 17, 2012

BIG DAY, Part 2: 15 miles DONE!

To quote Dora the Explorer, We did it! We did it! Yaaaaay!

This run could be broken into three chapters: Chapter 1 (miles 1-5): Misery. Chapter II (miles 6-12): Feeling Fine! Chapter III: Calf Muscles are Screaming, But I Can Ignore Them For Now (miles 13-15).

Chapter I: Misery

Yesterday afternoon was hot. I think it was actually somewhere around 80-85 degrees, but the sun was blazing, so it felt more like 95. I don't run well in the heat - unfortunate, since this is the south and temps can be consistently, uncomfortably high for up to 1/3 of the year.

Within the first block, I could tell that I was not going to have an easy time of it. Running Friend was chatting, not out of breath at all. I was entirely focused on just putting one foot in front of the other, and my mood declined with each passing mile. RF wanted to talk, share stories - but she soon realized that it was going to be a pretty one-sided conversation. I wasn't having any of it. I think I may have growled at her a couple of times, and then she backed off and we ran in silence.

Sometimes that's the best I can do. Sometimes I need to go totally into myself and block out everything and everyone around me. I know I can run the distance - but sometimes I have to go to a place of quiet, angry determination to make it happen. This is how I am in running and in life. I overcome challenges, I push through, but it's never very pretty.

The worst part of this phase was when we were running on the shoulder of a very busy road and another running buddy, who'd agreed to join us for 4-5 miles, suddenly ran up behind me with a chipper hello. Scared the crap out of me, and I just about decked him. I have quite the startle response.

Chapter II: Feeling Fine!

Once some clouds rolled in and we veered off onto more shaded roads, I started to feel better. I had some water and a Hammer Nutrition gel, and within two minutes my energy level ramped up. Suddenly I was talkative and light on my feet.

The roads were still busy, but not AS busy, and that also helped me feel calmer. By mile 10 I could feel my calf muscles starting to get grouchy, and I had a cramp around my ribcage. But those things seemed way more tolerable than the heat, which by then had dissipated significantly.

At around mile 12 we stopped at a grocery store for a quick water break. I felt tired, but by then I knew the last three miles were going to be okay.

Chapter III: Calf Muscles are Screaming, But I Can Ignore Them For Now

I was worried about my knee going into this run, but it was a non-issue. My calf muscles, on the other hand, were totally seized up by the end of the run. Thinking back, I recalled that this had been a problem when my husband and I had trained for our first marathon 10 years ago. My lungs had been fine, my energy levels had been manageable, but sore legs had been a real drag.

Nevertheless, I kept putting one foot in front of the other, and soon we we'd reached our goal.

RF let me hang out at her place for an hour or so to ice my knees, guzzle another bottle of water, and take an Advil. That post-race care seems to have worked, because when I woke up this morning, my legs felt fine. A little sore, but way less than I'd expected.

Oddly, the thing that's bothering me more are my shoulders. My right one is particularly sore. Maybe my posture was poor by the end of the run.

Now I'm drinking coffee and a peach/banana/blueberry/kale smoothie and trying to make myself get started on a work project.

Any tips on dealing with leg cramps during long runs?


  1. Way to get it done! Especially in hot weather. I'm amazed how 5-10 degrees can make a huge difference. Which hammer flavor do you like? I need to try more of those out, but I'm really into shot bloks and honey stingers right now that it's hard to break loose. But I love how hammers are made!

    Also, after my first half, I remember thinking that weird places were sore like my face (smiling?) and shoulders (high fiving or just being tense?), but my legs were good.

    So weird!

    1. I haven't tried too many Hammer flavors. I think the one I used was the Tropical one... It was a little much. I also had Shot Bloks, and those were REALLLLLLY good.