17-Mile Run

Today was my long run day. I typically do my long runs on Saturdays, but because I will be out of town for the next few days I decided to do my long run today.

It was a great day for a morning run. I rolled out of my bed, and suited up in my long running pants, hydration belt, GPS watch, and a pair of gloves that I picked up at a Marshalls the other day. I drank two cups of water, and headed out.

A bit on colder side (37 F) than usual, and I could see white frosts on the cars parked along the street. Gray hays by the running trail was just shaking off their white glistening blankets. As I was running, I was not sure how many miles that I was going to cover. I just knew I wanted to get a good long run.

Starting pace was good. I was doing about 8:20 minute miles. I felt a bit more relaxed than usual, and felt as though paying attention to my stride length was showing on my pace. It was a good feeling.

My usual long run route is Iron Horse Regional Trail. I don’t know where exactly the trail starts, but I have been told that it goes all the way up to Walnut Creek and beyond. It has paved surface with gradual climb at about 130 foot elevation gain over 3 miles or so. Not any significant hill to speak of.

It takes about 3 miles to get to the trail from my place. By the time I start seeing the trail, I’m well warmed up, and ready to find my zone. I set my pace to be around 8:15 minute miles.

My usual route on Iron Horse Regional Trail. It's a good, flat trail for runners.
My usual route on Iron Horse Regional Trail.
It’s a good, flat trail for runners.

It was looking good until I ran out of my first water bottle. My hydration belt has 3 bottle holders. I usually carry two, but today I carried all three. I figured that if I decide to add an extra mile or two, it would not hurt to have an extra bottle of water.

Trouble was that when I ran out of water from my first water bottle, I used that as an excuse to slowdown and walked for a minute or so. I switched the water bottles so that I can grab the full bottle with my right hand. It was just before the 8 mile mark, and I think that little break in my concentration set the tone for the rest of the run.

Coming back was hard. It’s always hard to stay focused in the second half when the legs are heavy and tired. I found that when I stop and think about the heavy legs, they get even heavier and heavier. They start sending distress signals out to my brain, and I have to slowdown even more. Slowing down was a mistake.

At about 14, I started feeling a bit of cramping on my toes. Uh-oh. I better slow down. Another excuse. Could munching on some salty snack have helped? I don’t know, but I was on a downward spiral . I didn’t want to get cramps with 3 miles to go, and it gave me another reason for me to slow down. Pace dropped to 12:20 minute mile and the next one was even worse.

The whole run came out to be 8:59 minute mile average pace. I covered 17.26 miles in 2:35:11.

My mile splits.
It was nice going until mile 8, and it fell apart at mile 16.

I should experiment with eating before my run. Maybe running on the empty stomach is not such a good idea.

Plus I should not give myself excuse to take a break. Once I take a break, starting back up and finding the zone again is hard, especially when my legs are getting tired in my second half.

Another lesson learned, and things to experiment.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


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