Eighteen Saturdays: Canton Marathon 2012, Weeks Fourteen and Fifteen
Holy mackerel, I have only a dozen runs left on the schedule, counting the 26.2-miler looming out there on June 17.
It’s been a decent couple weeks: Tuesday and Thursday morning runs have been five-milers, and it’s gotten a little bit lighter each time my brother and I go out. These are pretty relaxed loops, and we talk while we keep a pace of between about 8:30 and 8:50 per mile.
Wednesday the 16th I ran my last midweek eight-miler, and although I felt decent enough during the run, I clocked in at 1:09:15, or just over 8:30 per mile. I wasn’t trying for a pace record, but that 8:09 pace I did for eight miles in Week Ten really inspired me at the time, and I wanted to be closer to that mark.
On Saturday the 19th, we did a 12-mile route that felt particularly difficult after mile eight, but we ended up with an 8:23 pace, and I was pleased about that.
On Wednesday the 23rd, Adam and I had a five-mile pace run on the schedule. Two weeks prior, I had run a 40-minute five-mile for the first time ever, so I felt good about this one, and we really attacked it hard. Through three miles, we were still under an 8-minute pace (23:30), and we managed to knock even a few more seconds off our average over the final two, coming in with a final time of 38:47.
We used that achievement – and the fact that I felt pretty good afterward – to motivate us for Saturday’s 20-mile run – the longest on the schedule. Adam suggested we try to cover the first five miles in 40 minutes, then settle in and slow up for the remaining 15 miles.
I prepared well for Saturday’s run: Carbed up Friday night, got a good night’s sleep and my long-run breakfast of toast, a banana and a PowerBar.
When we left at 6:45, though, it was already pushing 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and I could tell I was in for a difficult run.
We did manage to hit the five-mile mark at an 8:06 pace, but it took a lot out of me, and I was already battling to stick to my walk-water-and-gel plan at 5, 10, and 15 miles.
I can’t re-slog it mentally, but it boils down to this: After the 15 mile break, I couldn’t get back up to speed. It was maddening. I mean, yes, my knees and ankles were sore, but heck, that’s what happens on a long run. It wasn’t the pain – it was that I just had no energy to get my speed back up at all.
I had to walk some more. And I was pissed off and frustrated about it. After about a quarter-mile, I managed to jog again, fuming inside.
I was hot and thirsty and irritated and after I’d finished off the last of my water, I had to walk again for a few tenths of a mile. Adam jogged back to me and poured some of his water into one of my bottles. With about 2.5 miles to go, I bore down and just said, “Let’s finish this thing,” and I finished with no more walking. Still, the whole thing really bugged me, and we finished in an ugly, ugly 3 hours and 14 minutes, something around 9:45 per mile.
Looking back, I think the heat was the real problem. I’ve never trained for a summer marathon before, and my running belt carries 20 ounces of water. I’d been doing a good job of rationing it and taking sips every mile or so to keep myself hydrated, and using a few ounces at a time to wash down the gels, but Saturday’s heat just left me wiped out, and my water supply wasn’t enough.
On race day, there will be water stations along the entire route, so I’m already planning to at least get a sip at every station, even if I don’t feel like I need it right at that moment. That way I conserve my own water for the miles in between, and hopefully don’t wind up a dehydrated mess like I did on Saturday.