(“livin’ on a prayer”. Had to get that out of the way.)
Sunday’s super duper long run was well, long. The night before I boiled and mashed 3 large sweet potatoes, mixing them with a bit of oil and a lot of sea salt. I put the mash into a bunch of resealable baggies in order to take with me in my pack. I tasted the mixture as I scooped, it tasted like sweet potatoes with maybe too much oil and not enough salt, a note for next time. The main purpose of this run was to feed myself 150 calories every hour and notice how my body felt during the process.
Then I filled up my bladder with lots of water and the rest of my Skratch and put it in the refrigerator, put my watch on the charger, laid out my clothes on the side of the tub and crawled into bed to read a little bit of iZombie and pass out.
The next morning I ate my requisite banana while I drove to the lot. I got to Reedy Creek around 0630, swapped my flip flops for the Altras and got on with it. The beginning plan was to run from Reedy Creek to the Poop Loop so I could get a better feel for the mileage in case I wanted to run that route during the week or on Saturday with the trail crew.
On my way to the flood wall I had the pleasure of first surprising a squirrel and all four feet left the ground at the same time as it jumped straight into the air. That was entertaining. Then I startled a groundhog and it hurried into the bushes. Then as I approached the section of the trail directly under the bridge I noticed what looked to be another groundhog except the body wasn’t quite right and it had too much of a tail. It’s possible it was a beaver. I told myself to check it out after I visited the porta potty but my short term memory almost resembles that of a squirrel so five minutes later I had already forgotten.
I completed one circuit of the Poop Loop and stopped at the prescribed hour to feed my body the Clif Organic Energy Food, update Coach on my progress/whereabouts and then do another circuit going back the way I came. So far my body and my head were doing great.
I traveled the pipeline and decided to run across Belle Isle to Forest Hill because I can handle North Bank when I’m tired and sore, I cannot say the same for Forest Hill. Just before reaching the pedestrian bridge that would take me to Belle Isle, I saw this repurposed door in the lower parking lot.
Pretty cool, huh? Apparently this is part of a larger initiative to end homelessness.
This was my second hour thus my second stop and I ate one of my home squished baggies of sweet potato mush and drank more Skratch water while I watched three mountain bikers (MTB) get ready to ride. I was pretty sure they shouldn’t have been out there since it had rained pretty hard and long the past two nights but I was only basing my opinion on the Poop Loop which was like a skating rink. I took off for Belle Isle and the trail on the east side of the island. Yep, almost too muddy for my feet let alone heavy tires. Am I allowed to remind the MTBers of this?
I tackled Forest Hill (it was uneventful as far as runs go), stopping afterward in the parking lot at Reedy Creek for my third hour snack and decided to change my shoes, socks and shirt. Wow, what a difference dry clothing can make! However, I switched from the Altras into the Peregrine and within half a mile I realized that was a mistake. The Peregrine are great shoes, but they are not meant for ultra running or maybe even marathons. My feet were already hurting because I just did 17 miles on rough rocky terrain and putting the Peregrine on my feet only exacerbated the soreness. So they are officially fired from long run usage. Otherwise, I was still feeling fantastic and was excited to be in the single digits for the remaining mileage.
I got to Texas Beach and was so happy because I only had 5 miles left! And then I got to North Bank and it was mile 21ish! I stopped to take pictures of this guy because hey, beautiful black spider whose webs I probably take down with my face and they eat the bugs like mosquitos and gnats that have no ecological purpose other than to spread disease.
While I was stopped on the side of the trail trying to get my camera to turn, two guys ran by me, one of them yelled way too loud, “Runner up!” I remember thinking it was just his friend with him so why was he yelling so loud. Shortly after they passed I caught up to them as they walked up a “hill”. I was elated because this meant I could run “with” them for a bit, maybe even tell them what I’m doing so they can distract me for the next few miles. Except they let me pass and even on mile 22 I was still running faster than them. Damn. I was actually a bit disappointed. After about a mile I caught up to three hikers and their dog. The kudzu on that side of the trail is overwhelming which has made it hard to pass. The greenery makes you feel like you’re in your own sci-fi movie as the ivy reaches out threatening to wrap around your ankles and suck you into its vastness.
I went on to the east trail on Belle Isle again. I made it to the section by the skills course when I saw four little MTBers get on their bikes and say, “Yay, let’s go!” and head straight for me. Did they wait until I passed? No. Did they not even try to miss me? No. Did the last one almost hit me in the gut with his handlebar? Yes. Did I glower at the dad person as he followed them onto the trail? You bet. He was kind of smiling till he saw the look on my face because in my head I was screaming, “I’m on mile 22 of 24 and stopping at this point really sucks and your kids just fucked up my mojo and damn it now I have to start all over again!” As I started running again, I heard the dad person tell the small people they needed to watch out for others on the trail. If I could have talked, I would have mentioned the rules of the trail are important for them to know before they start riding.
And then I only had 2 miles left.
And then I only had 1 mile left.
And then I was done. I walked the half mile back to my car and just sat there for a bit before taking off those damned Peregrines. I had run 24 miles in 4 hours, 37 minutes. My average pace was 11:30. I was exhausted and I started crying because I was exhausted and these runs are getting harder mentally because I’m exhausted. And now I know why I have to run so many super duper long runs, I need to know what my body and mind are going to feel like when trying to run 50 miles at one time. I am not a crier and I don’t think I’ve ever cried during or after any run, especially not a training run. (Complain and whine, yes; cry, no.) I think I cried because I have already completed SIX super duper long runs and that is the most I have ever run so close together. Before I started training for this 50, my average monthly mileage was somewhere around 150-200, sometimes even closer to 250. But none of that includes super duper long runs only 7 days apart. When I began this run, I didn’t think of it as 24 miles but instead as six miles I get to run four times. I only ran from hour to hour. Perhaps that is also why the relief of it all came out as tears once I had finished; I did what I had to do to get it done, no thought going into the finish, just the now. It’s amazing, running these super duper long runs just because I have this life goal of completing a 50 miler.
As Coach said: it’s hard and I’m doing it anyway.
Still yet to come: I get to run 4 trail marathons over the next 5 weeks – there’s a down week in the middle. Too bad that still won’t qualify me for Marathon Maniacs.