Welcome to the (Very) Long Run

It seemed like a good idea at the time and there may or may not have been alcohol involved.  A friend turned to me and said “We should run an ultra!”to which I shrugged and said “OK.”  And that was it.  Now here I am, less than two months out from said ultra and a little FREAKED OUT!

But when I picked the race distance, well it seemed like fate.  In order to count as an ultra, it had to be longer than a marathon.  So that left 65 km, 50 miles (80 km), or 125 km.  Since the 50 mile is only offered every other year, which is this year, well that was the one I picked.  Of course it seems like all the time in the world when there’s still snow on the ground. When you ran your first marathon in October then with next to no training run a (painfully) slow half marathon the following February in Montreal on the coldest day of the year.  Yup.  Plenty of time.

Today (July 12) I ran my longest run this year: 30 km through hilly trails.  And even though I started early in the morning it was already hot and humid.  But I threw on my hydration pack, complete with new collapsable bottles with sports drink, dried dates and almonds, a peanut butter and berry wine jam (it’s all I had) wrap, and the last of my Honey Stinger gels.

I’m in drink experimenting mode and had grabbed a couple pouches of Honey Maxx.  The taste isn’t terrible; it’s just not great.  But having a bladder of water at least means that it isn’t my only source of fluid.  At least there was no, shall we say digestive distress, from it.

Sometimes it almost feels harder to run slow but I know that I have a tendency to pick up the pace way too early and end up hating every moment way too soon.  That has to wait until the last 10 kms at least.  I also walk, or hike (sounds better that way) up all hills on the long runs.

It didn’t take long for the heat to get to me because soon I was dripping wet.  It was so bad that the back of my shorts were soaked from the sweat that soaked my shirt.  I felt as though I had climbed out of the shower.  A shower that soaked you then poured salt and dirt all over your skin.

I’m not ashamed to admit it but I did a lot of walking the last few kilometres.  It’s funny how my definition of a “hill” changes the longer the run goes.  I minced my way back to my car and shuddered as I tossed my pack in the trunk, the sweat drops splashing me where it squished amongst the grocery bags.

I’ve gotten into the habit of changing my shoes after long runs for a couple of reasons: my feet sweat and I like to get them drier.  Even with the same socks they somehow just feel drier.  New shoes also have different wear patterns so tired muscles and ligaments get a bit of a rest.  At least that’s how I feel.  I’m not sure if it really makes a difference but it can’t hurt.

I had to pick up some groceries and felt like I almost got frostbite when I walked into the frozen foods section.  Of course that didn’t stop me from opening the freezer doors and just basking in the cold.  This Canadian girl will take snow forts over sand castles any day.

When I finally got home, I took my dogs to a nearby creek and just stood hip-deep in the water.  Call it redneck icing.  The weirdest thing was that fish started nibbling at my legs!  I’ve never had that happen before so I don’t know if they were treating me as a big salt lick  or they were just really hungry.

Then I did make a really silly mistake: I didn’t eat a proper recovery meal as soon as I got home.  For some reason, I was rabid for pickles and finished off the last of a jar and then drank the juice; right out of the jar.  Then started on a new jar.  I can only think that it was an attempt to replenish electrolytes.

Then to complicate the food equation, I decided to eat probably one of the worst things I could eat: spicy baked chicken wings.  For some reason I bought wings from Costco.  Because when you’re single you have to buy enough chicken wings for a family of four.  Well they won’t last forever in the fridge so that was how I found myself scarfing wings  coated with a homemade spice rub, heavy on the spice.  And beer because you have to have beer with wings.  Of course that was after almost chugging two litres of water, and who knows how much pickle juice, over the span of a couple hours.  And watching James Bond.

Recovery.  It’s all about recovery.

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