Sunday, October 11, 2009

Not the way I had it planned. Or, how not to run 20 miler

Well, that's not the way I had it planned. Saturday morning I was set up to run 20 miles at 8:00 mile pace. That's my marathon pace and the last truly hard long run on the schedule before the taper.

Looking back, the problems began during the week. This was a long week of work for me - 60+ hours. Historically that meant a terrible diet, in that hard work meant eating junk around the office. Also, sometimes when I get engulfed in work, I lose my appetite. That happened this week. I noticed on Friday that my weight was 179 - the first time I have been in the 170's in probably 15 years.

And I haven't been sleeping much. Combination of work stress and a sick baby. Thursday we were up a good chunk of night with her, but still got some sleep. Friday night - the night before big run, she was sick most of night. I was up from about midnight until 4 am. I remember looking at the clock and thinking I can't believe I am going to go run 20 miles in like 3 hours on no sleep.

And again I left all of my Garmin gear in my office charging the battery. And my brand new iPod nano was dead too - it wouldn't take the charge, so I have to return it. I ended running with my wife's iPod but we have different taste in music. (I thought I was in a 1970s disco circa 1984. Patti LaBelle "New Attitude"? Please - that's not running music for me.)

And then Saturday I woke up and it was 65 degrees and 100 humidity, again. What gives with this NY fall? Where are crisp mornings and smell of leaves, etc. Nada. Humidity meant slick roads, rain and just a tougher run.

Even with all of this, I knew I had to tough it out. I had been looking forward to this run and getting through it all week. And thought it would set me up well mentally for the coming race. And I've run in humidity, rain, etc all summer and fall. And I'm tough and what doesn't kill me makes me stronger, right?

I took off, having studied my mile marks from a previous run on this route, so I would know almost exactly where the miles were so I could judge pace. Through 5 I was doing OK: too fast at 7:30 or so, and I had no idea how I was going to keep up the pace for 13 more.

I felt terrible. I've never thrown up during a run, but had to stop twice due to vomit attacks. And my gut was killing me. And I wasn't in groove at all. I decided to cut it to a 14 miler (two loops)at about mile 5. And then I had another vomit attack. And it started to rain. Nauseous, stomach in a knot with pain, and wet from the rain.

So, I said to myself: screw it. Packed it in at the end of that loop, at 7 miles. Ran 7 miles in 54 minutes and change. My stomach felt terrible - like a knot. After showering, etc., I was wiped out. And my teeth were chattering and all afternoon I fell asleep every time I sat down or laid down, even when I wasn't trying or letting myself fall asleep. Periodically, I'd be watching a football game and doze off.

Looking back, the seeds of my downfall were laid Thursday and Friday. I in essence didn't eat a meal until Friday dinner (I think Thursday I had 4 energy bars all day). And two nights of basically no sleep led to a terrible body condition. Instead or carbo loading, I did the opposite. And running on no sleep just doesn't work well for a 41 year old. Still not sure why I was throwing up during the run, but maybe
because I had taken my vitamins before I headed out and they upset my stomach. I really wish I had my heart rate monitor so I could see if the pace was too hard and pushed me physically too hard. Maybe my lack of running caught up with me. I don't know.

At any right, I figured I would live to fight another day. I've done all my long runs, and ought to be in good shape. If not doing this one costs me, c'est la vie. My time will be what it is going to be and I didn't want to push myself in the rain throwing up for 20 miles.

Today is Sunday -and its beautiful day to run. All the people running today in Staten Island half marathon or in Chicago, I hope you are having a great day!


  1. Lots of bugs at this time of year. Get well soon, enjoy the rest of your taper and put this run down to experience. In the greater scheme of things this run will not make a great deal of difference top your marathon time

  2. Sorry about your tough run. I think your assessment is right on. Lack of fuel, lack of sleep, in bad weather...will never do for a long run. Scratch it. You'll do better in better conditions.

    Hope you're recovery is going well.

  3. Yeah, that run was doomed from the beginning. Good you cut it short and didn't do any more damage!


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