If you'll remember, I had originally planned on running two 20-milers before Seattle. BUT, thanks to my little setback (stupid chest cold!), I was forced to adjust the sched' and only had time to squeeze in one 20. Holy pressure!! This HAD to go well.
I woke up around 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, with every intention of heading out by 6:30 a.m. at the ABSOLUTE latest. Ha, nice try, Irish. I dilly-dallied, I watched some telly, I read some blogs, I made (and ate) some oatmeal, I drank some coffee, I changed tops five times, I read some more blogs. Finally, I checked out accuweather.com and was reminded of the fact that it was going to be HOT and sunny. I needed to get moving! I finally scurried my butt on out the door around 6:45 a.m. Here we go!
Except . . . we didn't exactly go. I swear I was all ready, but then I realized I didn't have any gum left. I stopped at a bodega and waited on line to buy my gum. Some dude took FOREVER picking out his scratch game lotto tickets. I FINALLY purchased my oh-so-important watermelon Trident, crossed the street and started my run. But wouldn't you know, Gertie was acting all kinds of funny (I think because I'd been stuck inside the bodega for so long). I stopped, turned her off and on, waited for her to find a signal AGAIN. Finally, just after 7:00, I was on my way.
During the run to the park, I focused on keeping my pace SUPER slow. This was a long one, and I didn't want to waste a drop of energy early on. My legs felt a little tired, so I took it nice and SLOOOOOW.
Mile-1: 10:18 (I told you I wasn't messing around with my tortoise-ness)
I made it to the park and stopped near the entrance to stretch out my super TIGHT and freaky sore legs. Ah yes, much better! I grabbed a drink of water and on I trekked, still trying to keep my pace down as close to 10:00/mile as possible. Of course--per usual--once I was warmed up, running that slow proved to be a difficult feat.
I stopped at mile-4 to take my first gel. I had decided to try gel-ing up every 4-miles in an effort to avoid running out of steam like I seem to do in a lot of my long runs. On I went, happy as a clam, and feeling pretty darn good, if I do say so myself! Still, I wanted to avoid bonking later on and told myself I had to keep my pace down slower. I did a great job with the next couple miles, but per usual, it didn't last long!
Mile-6: 10:13 (Zoo Hill helpd slow me down)
Of course, my A.D.D. set in somewhere around here, and it showed in the next couple of splits. I CLEARLY was not focusing on keeping the pace down.
I stopped again at Mile-8 for a gel and some water, elated that I was nearly halfway done and still feeling "awesome". For the record? Don't ever celebrate feeling great 8 miles into a 20-mile run. Your gloating a$$ will probably soon lead to your being stomped on by the running gods! And was I ever. I started back up, and soon thereafter realized I felt nauseous. Like REALLY nauseous. Like "pretty sure that vanilla Accel gel is about to come back up and fertilize the grass" nauseous. Ugh. I tried to push on, but I made it about halfway up Zoo Hill and allowed myself to slow to a walk, convinced I was going to yak. I walked the rest of the way up the hill, and then cursed at myself for b*tching out and forced myself to resume running. Holy illness, Batman. I felt like poop. "Better make up for lost time", I thought . . . because I'm dumb. And this made sense at the time. If you think this is stupid, just wait until you hear what I did a bit later on . . .
Mile-9: 10:35 (wah, I'm gonna puke. I have to walk up this hill like a little b*tch)
Mile-10: 9:10 (yeah, see. Dumb)
Mile-11: 9:30 (little bit better, but still kind of dumb)
The nausea was gripping me by this time. I remembered back to in my training for L.A. when this happened A LOT during and after my long runs . . . and I immediately smacked myself up the side of the head when I remembered that Gatorade/sports drink seemed to be the missing piece that had solved that puzzle. Unfortunately, I had no Gatorade on me. Nor did I have enough money to purchase any. I knew right then and there it was going to be a LONG day (only, I didn't ACTUALLY have the slightest clue--ha, I promise you're going to die when you read about the idiotic move I made a few miles from now).
I got to Zoo Hill . . . again. And I walked the whole damn thing. I just felt SO defeated. And sick. So VERY, VERY sick. As I'm officially the most predictable nincompoop on the planet, I again tried to make up for the walking with a faster than necessary mile-13.
It was time for another gel break. Given a choice, I'd have chosen sawing both of my ears off with a rusty butter knife over consuming another gel. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), only one of these was actually an option, and I knew it was a very necessary evil. I pretended it was a shot, and squeezed the entire thing into my mouth, swallowing the whole glob in one quick motion. I immediately gagged and came damn close to losing it. Somehow, though, with lots of water, I managed to keep it down. I dilly-dallied for FAR too long at this stop. This is a problem with me during a lot of my long runs. I swear, I will stand there for like five minutes before I convince myself to get moving. Finally, I talked myself into it and continued on, trying to focus on the positives . . . my legs felt fine, endurance-wise I felt seriously strong, nothing was hurting (besides my gut). But you guys, I have never felt more ill in my life. I told myself to Just. Keep. Moving. "The sooner you finish, the sooner you can lay down, Irish."
After mile-14, things REALLY went downhill. It was hot as crap out, the sun was glaring down on me, and--surprise, surprise--I was feeling even more ill than I ever thought possible. This is when I really started to suffer mentally. Something about feeling insanely nauseous for 6 miles was causing my brain to malfunction. I started to consider sticking my finger down my throat. I was thinking maybe--just maybe--if I actually vomited, I would feel better. But then, of course, I was worried I'd lose all of the fluids and fuel I was working so hard to keep down. And remember how it was seriously hot out? 'Cuz yeah, it was.
I opted not to do it, and kept on going . . . and suddenly a seriously STUPID thought crept into my head. "Maybe I should just do an extra 2-mile loop and finish the run in the park." Please remember that I live 2.4 miles from Prospect Park. How on earth was I going to get home?! Ha, "I'll walk home--it will be a nice cool-down," I thought. I don't know why, you guys, but this sh*t actually made sense to me at the time. I'm pretty sure I was originally looking at the run in three segments--run to the park, run in the park and run home from the park--and cutting one of the segments out seemed easier to me, despite the fact that it was the same damn mileage! Told you my brain was dead!
At any rate, as soon as I made up my mind and stopped thinking about my new plan, I realized my right hip was SERIOUSLY hurting me. Uh oh. I slowed to a walk and stopped to grab a drink of water. Um, OUCH? Now what?! I let myself limp-walk for a while, then decided it was probably just an IT band issue and started running again. I realized it actually felt better to run than it did to walk, for some reason. But of course, the second I started running, my stomach threatened to empty its contents. WOO! We're having some fun now!
Right after the mile-16 point, I was practically trampled by an apparent race going on. I was aware that there was, in fact, a race in the park that day--but had totally forgotten about it, considering I was planning on being out of the park and gone by the time it started (10:00 a.m.). Between my super late start and my nausea-induced dilly-dallying, I was still running long after I had originally thought I would be. As the lead pack passed, I was as close to the curb as I could manage without tripping over it, but I still was elbowed and almost knocked down by multiple racers. I felt really badly, and tried to get out of the way, but there were runners trying to run by on the left side of me--as in up on the curb--so I couldn't even get over. Finally, I managed to hop off of the road and resumed running up on the dirt path that has been worn into the grass just inside the road. I stopped around mile-16.5 for my final gel break, and decided to wait it out a bit until the race thinned out.
I figured it wouldn't take too long, considering most of the non-NYRR (New York Road Runners) races in Prospect Park are relatively small, but I waited a good 5-10 minutes before it cleared up enough to carry on. Even as I started back up, I was still dodging a fair number of slower runners and walkers, as well as a lot of children who weren't exactly very savvy with the "rules of the road," as I like to call them. Ugh. I will definitely let my kids participate in road races if and when I have them, but I will be sure to a) keep an eye on them, and b) teach them about polite racing techniques. But I digress. Run, run, run. Dodge, dodge, dodge. On I went, running (and occasionally walking when I felt like I was about to yak).
Now, around the 18.75-mile point, I started on my way up Zoo Hill for the fourth and final time that day. I was feeling SERIOUSLY ill, but I knew I was SO close to being done. I told myself I was going to finish the run without stopping to walk, but wouldn't you know, I made it about 20 yards and felt the most convincing "I have to puke" sensation of the entire day. I slowed to a walk, hoping it would pass, but suddenly I KNEW I wasn't going to make it. Luckily, I was right near some trees, so I jumped off the road into the tree cover and spilled my guts. The funny thing is that right as I was jumping into the trees, Gertie beeped at me to announce I had reached the 19-mile mark. I would have laughed . . . but I seriously didn't think ANYTHING was funny at that point in time.
Mile-19: 12:10 (puke break--no time to stop Gertie--awesome!)
I popped a piece of gum in my mouth (was I EVER glad I stopped to buy that gum!), and took some time to collect myself/think about what I should do. Should I cut the run short a mile? Should I keep going? Should I just walk the remaining mile? For one thing, I was sure as hell not going to run up the rest of that hill (sorry, guys--I'm just not that hardcore). I ultimately decided on walking the remaining mile. But then? I made it to the top of the hill, and felt kind of like a loser. I had walked up at least part of that sucker 3 out of 4 times that day. WEAK! I forced myself to get running again and finish the run out strong. After all, I only had about 3/4 of a mile to go--that was nothing! On I ran, trying to think positive thoughts. "You're still out here, Irish. That takes guts. Maybe today hasn't gone the way you'd hoped, but you know what? You haven't quit yet. And you're not going to quit. You got this!" FINALLY, I reached 20 miles.
I slowed to a walk and checked my time. 3:23:31 overall for a 10:10/mile pace. I was actually kind of pleasantly surprised considering I'd thrown so much walking into the mix. Just to check my progress since my last training period, I pulled up my last 20-mile run completed on February 9, 2008 (yes, it's still in there--Note to self: I should really clean Gertie out before Seattle. Wouldn't it suck to have her fill up in the middle of the race?): 3:37:33, or a 10:52/mile pace . . . and I had thought that run went "really well"! Not bad. Not bad at all.
I grabbed a nice, long drink of water, relaxed for a while, and then exited the park when I was ready. Suddenly, I realized how stupid I had been. Walking 2.4 miles home was not going to be "a nice cool-down". It was going to be a full-on death march! It was already approaching 11:00 a.m., and the sun was beating down on me as I left the park. Here's a play-by-play of my walk home.
11:00 a.m.: I think, "Have I seriously only made it ONE BLOCK so far?!"
11:02 a.m.: And . . . I'm already thirsty again. If only I had something to drink . . . but alas I only have 50 cents on me. "Stupid gum! I'd still have 2 dollars if it wasn't for you!"
11:05 a.m.: I wonder why the youth of Park Slope aren't more entrepreneurial. Lemonade would be PERFECT!
11:10 a.m.: "Seriously? THREE BLOCKS??! That's it?!"
11:15 a.m.: I am very nearly run over by an out-of-control Park Slope stroller mom. Thanks, lady.
11:20 a.m.: A small child who has clearly just learned to walk passes me and then mocks me by begging her father to pick her up. He does. I spontaneously burst into tears, lamenting the fact that there is no one around to pick me up.
11:25 a.m.: I pass the South Brooklyn Coffin Factory, and wonder if maybe I should just stop there and save everyone some trouble.
11:30 a.m.: I contemplate hopping on a bus and just begging the people on the bus for the remaining $1.50 I'd need for fare. "Hmm, I've seen that work before." But alas, I have no clue where any of the buses in the area would go . . .
11:35 a.m.: I wonder if a police officer would drive me home if I begged . . . but I don't have a chance to find out, seeing as how there are no police officers in sight.
11:40 a.m.: The Killers tell me, "If you can't hold on/If you can't hold on/Hold on." Easier said than done, a$$holes!
11:41 a.m.: You're not going to believe this, but I pass a LEMONADE STAND! "Way to go youngsters of Cobble Heights," I think as I approach the stand. THEN, I see the sign . . . $0.75. You have GOT to be kidding me!
11:42 a.m.: I think about bartering with the kid and asking for 2/3 of a cup of lemonade, but there's someone else busy buying a cup. "Forget it," I think. I'm just eight blocks from home, where a big, huge, ice-cold bottle of Gatorade is waiting for me.
11:50 a.m.: I pass by the LIU Hospital and think about checking myself in.
11:55 a.m.: FINALLY, I arrive home (over FIVE HOURS after I left, mind you). I immediately chug an entire bottle of Gatorade. YUM.
I spent probably 45 minutes attempting to take the photos in the last post with my blackberry camera (the REAL camera was downstairs, and I sure as hell was not about to walk down any stairs after the morning I'd had!). Speaking of which, look how disgusting I look in this failed photo. GOOD LORD! Apparently blackberry cameras have the ability to make you look 50 pounds thinner! YUCK!
Finally, I got it right. I hopped in an icebath, followed it with a nice hot shower, then decided I needed chow ASAP! Although I knew we didn't have much food in the apartment, I was determined to come up with something good without leaving the premises. Finally, a lightbulb went off in my head. I turned on the oven and prepared myself some black bean nachos (just stone ground tortilla chips covered with black beans and weight-watchers shredded mexican cheese mix). DELICOUS! I followed this delightful meal with a couple hours of laying around in my recovery socks and watching some television.
By the time Wilson got home from work (did I mention he had to work, and couldn't baby me after my run? Cuz' yeah, that made me sad! At least he brought me a HUGE iced coffee and a couple donuts when he came home :) ), I was still in some pretty bad pain from the hip issue, but I managed to get up and "help" him do the laundry. And by "help", I mean hobble to the laundromat, sit in a chair while he did the laundry and hobble home. But I DID fold my own clothes, which was a HUGE accomplishment.
In true Irish Cream form, I finished the night off with Wilson at our favorite Ale House. We ordered the "Pig Out Special for 2" (sweet potato fries, cole slaw, beef brisket, ribs, pulled pork and barbecued chicken--YUM!). The feast was complimented ever so nicely by the two pints of Ithaca Apricot Wheat I drank. PERFECTO.
So there you have it folks . . . my never-ending 20-mile long run report. While it didn't exactly go as planned, I'm in high spirits and still feeling pretty confident. The nausea/vomit issue and the hip issue obviously sucked, but the good news is that endurance-wise, I felt pretty strong even as I was finishing the last mile. Not to mention, my legs felt really good aside from the hip thing (which was feeling 100% better by Tuesday night). So . . . I feel like if I am vigilant about stretching the IT band and I make sure to consume sports drink during the race, I should be good to go. WOOO! Getting close now . . . just a little over two weeks to go! :)
Watch out, Seattle, I'm coming for you!