I did my 20-miler today! And lived to blog about it!!!
I went to Rocky River, where it was bound to be (mostly) shaded, and it was. In fact, the high today only got to the mid-70s (although it felt a lot warmer while running in the sun)--a welcome respite from the 80-plus-degree long runs of August.
Annoying setback: there was a street closing on McKinley on the way to Riverside, so I couldn't enter at Hogsback Lane like I normally do. Got directions from a cop (why does even a harmless conversation like this still get me nervous around cops?), and of course got lost for a while, until I found my way back to Detroit Road and Claire told me where to enter the park. So I started at mile 1 (or, I guess, mile "0"), at the Scenic park picnic area, which actually proved to be easier to keep track of my mileage (instead of always subtracting two miles like I have to when I start at Hogsback). And lord knows, when you've run 10+ miles, doing math is not something anyone wants to do.
Started off strong, I think partially because I took an extra rest day yesterday AND because I have recently discovered a good pre-run meal: Cream Farina with raisins (I know, you people probably think I'm gross). For some reason, I had this all the time as a kid. As an adult, I more often have oatmeal, but Farina is yummy and doesn't have as much fiber, so it's not going to mess with the digestive system. Anyway, I thought I would try this out today, because I had it this past week and it worked extremely well for a six-mile tempo run on Wednesday.
Also, new to the mix this week: GU Chomps, which I picked up at Second Sole on Friday along with a lot of other gels and stuff. I have tried Clif Shot Blocks (Blox? Bloks?) before too, and although I liked the taste and the gummy quality, I thought they were a bit too big (I have this inordinate fear of choking; more on that another time) and too sticky. I had heard that the GU Chomps are smaller, and the package is also a little bit easier to manage (the plastic is softer and you can just slide the Chomps out the top, then fold it over and stick back in your shorts or whatever). Plus, they have vitamins C&E and amino acids in addition to electrolytes, whereas Clif Blox only have electrolytes (according to the sales guy at Second Sole).
Let me tell you, these Chomps were the bomb! Not only were they tasty, but they gave me a jolt that the gels simply do not. I didn't have coffee before this run--I am starting to not drink coffee before a long run as it tends to make me have to use the bathroom too much--but these bites gave me the little "kick" of caffeine I needed during the run. There are 8 to a pack, which says is supposed to last 1 1/2 to 2 hrs. Probably right. I used them in 2-chomp increments, about every half hour. Hehe, 2-chomp increments...that sounded funny.
I also used GU (Vanilla bean, which I am OFFICIALLY stopping the use of because it is just gross) and Just Plain (my first time using this flavor - I liked it and it didn't give me a bad taste in my mouth and/or stomach problems like Vanilla Bean). I am a bit tiffed that Second Sole doesn't have my PowerBar Gel--my go-to gel. Oh well. I am liking Clif Shots more and more; they are a bit more substantial than GU and taste better too.
The first half of my run was strong and steady--I would even say that I ran faster than usual in this part. I finally made it to mile 10 (my turnaround) near the Nature Center. Yay! Then things were good for about a mile or two, and then, predictably, got much worse before they could get better...hot sun, stomach issues, not knowing whether to eat more gel or whether the gel was the problem, etc. At least my hydration was awesome today; I decided to forgo the oppressive backpack for this run and instead simply carried a 16-ounce Dasani bottle (good size to hold; 20 oz would have definitely felt cumbersome), which I refiled a few times at the water fountains.
Mentally, I realized the end was "near" at 14 miles...tried to remember that I am regularly running six miles during the week and attempted convincing myself that it was just the same! (Uh...except for having run 14 miles already!) Started the mental "countdown" with about 5.5 miles to go...just kept looking for those half-mile markers. Hills were brutal, but relied on my strength and resolve to get through it...finally inching my way towards the end...when I reached 18 miles I knew I wouldn't have to walk in order to finish, although when I finally DID finish, I was literally hobbling to the car. Had to walk it off QUITE a bit, in addition to drinking gatorade/water/eating PB&J from my car stash before I could think about driving home.
But I did it! Time was 4:06 (approximate, wasn't wearing the garmin), which was great, because usually I'll average 5 miles an hour for the first 2 hours, then...slow....waaay....dowwwwwnnnn. (Ha ha, that reminds me of Office Space, when the hypnotist says, "Way...way down...."
Now, why can't I stop stuffing my face...? :)