Two weeks ago, I sat down to write about setting a new PR for distance: 14 miles. Prior to that, the longest distance I had ever run was 13.4 miles during the Walt Disney World Marathon in Jan 2014. Running the half hurt and I was not physically prepared for the run thanks to plantar fasciitis. The DrRachelRuns training plan for Dopey obviously pushes beyond this boundary, so a few weeks ago I hit 14 miles and a new PR.
The week before (three weeks ago), I had limped home after running 12 miles and collapsed on the floor – much to the amusement of my wife. I hadn’t run 12 miles since July and went out too far before fueling, didn’t carry enough water, and ran too fast through the middle of the run. I took a day off to contemplate why in the world I was putting myself through such misery then got back to work. The next weekend, I went out and put up 14 miles. I was foolish though… again. At mile 11, the cold and snow had set in along with desperation to finish before my Garmin™ ran out of battery power. I sped up and lost all semblance of pacing during the last three miles. I hit both a new distance and new half marathon PR (2:35 woot!!), but at the cost of suffering. These 12 and 14 mile runs were not great but they were done. I couldn’t bring myself to finish the post as I went out to get ready for my next run; sure that it would be another complete study in misery. I was afraid that all I would have to say was how horrible running is and to abandon hope all ye who enter into this dastardly pastime.
Last week was 16 miles – new territory again. I went in having learned from 12 and 14; a clear pace goal and fueling strategy based on the previous weeks failures. As the miles piled up, I was amazed at how good I felt and how well the run was going. I cruised through mile 10 and felt great through mile 12. Even mile 14 was feeling pretty good. The wheels fell off at mile 14.5. I shuffled and moaned for another 1.5 miles to reach the finish line and immediately texted DrRachel that I would never run again.
I will be out there next week running again and this time 18 miles. What I have come to realize, these long runs have really helped me to identify issues in my fueling and pacing strategies for long runs. Each time I feel like death by the end of the run I can pick apart what I did wrong and where. Going from 5K to Half changed my ideas about running kits and what equipment I need. Going now from Half to Full I am learning more about strategy. I had a good strategy to get to 14 and now need to revise to get to 18, 20, and ultimately 26.2.