Long run Blues

I’ve been trying to write a post ALL day.  I even got one written and went to save and my internet became disconnected,  so forgive me if I seem a bit irritable.

I ran my last Long run before Seaside yesterday.  I was supposed to run it today but for a variety of silly reasons, I decided to do it yesterday.

In preparation for Seaside, I decided to do what I usually have done before long races- with varying success…Cut Off the Caffeine.

I’m a total fan of Coffee especially, and rely on it to keep me feeling pleasant at work…In the past I have only managed to do half caff before races without breaking down, but for some reason I did alright.  Monday I had a slight headache.  I was off work, so I took lots of nice naps, and made eyes if you will at the coffee pot.  By tuesday I felt surprisingly fine.  I was all set to stay off the caffeine until a few days before the race.

The day before my long run it dawned on me that I was unsure of how that would work, so I decided my last long- a 12 miler- would be done with me trying to duplicate race conditions.  So, Friday morning I awoke early and made a pot of Community Coffee with great relish.

So  after being off Caffeine for 4 days I seriously had doubts that this would make any difference.  But I noted when I was drinking the coffee that I was indeed feeling a very pleasant “lift” from the coffee.

oh yes thats me…

I got all suited up and went out to get this run done.  I was feeling chipper with the caffeine on board and ready to get out there. So I started.  I was pleased to see my pace for the first 2 miles to be nice and speedy.  about 40 seconds faster than it needed to be, but…I tend to go out fast and then settle into a realistic pace with a bit of a cushion if you will.

I took my first gel when I was supposed to, and still felt pretty good.  I kept going and after about 2 more miles I started to feel, well, not so great.  I still was running alright, my breathing was fine, my pace was perfect, but I felt a bit detached…

Everything seemed fine but I felt a little unaware of what I was doing.  The run started to seem rather long, and I was getting irritated, then all of a sudden, I was at the next town, and the run seemed to be less long.  I did another gel (these gels have caffeine), at the appropriate time, and kept running.  Mile 5 is one of the most difficult miles for me, simply because it is up a long incline (not really a Hill, but a mile of increasing incline) and right through town, so I have to cross a lot of traffic.  But I got through it with a time that I was ok with.  Mile six was my “new territory” (which is a joke as I have been on so many points of this trail that I can tell you every nook and cranny.)  and I was looking forward to it because I got to run over a small wooden bridge. I had kind of forgotten though, mile six is a nice decline…which of course made the turn around point, and mile seven an Incline.  I struggled through mile seven.  When It was complete I was back on familiar territory.  I felt pretty good and confident.  at the end of the mile I remembered that I had my ipod in my water belt.  I did not like my 7 mile time at ALL, but I figured it was due to the hill and doing some quick calculations in my head I realized that if I just ran a 12MM pace (which is well above what I have been running) for the next 5 miles I had this run within my time goals.

Except that I could not do it.  Mile 8 was off that by about 9 seconds.  and miles 9 and 10 are on a nice gently decline, so I thought I would speed up….oh no.  I started to feel very frustrated.  I could not get my legs to cooperate with my body.  I was also noting that I was super thirsty.  Every time I had water with a gel I wanted to drink the entire bottle.  I had to sort of resist that, because I would have gotten a terrible cramp to be sure.  As each mile ticked off, I was sure the next one would be better and that I could regroup.  And most of my subsequent miles started out for at least the first quarter at about an 11:20 pace, which is what I wanted.  I just couldn’t keep them there.  I ended up doing more walking than I wanted, but I was just feeling awful.  And nothing I did seemed to help. I was having pain in my hips, but really it was not significant and was not at the surgical area.

Well I finished off the run.  My total run was 7 minutes off the goal time I set for myself.  Not terrible, but very strange.  I was miserable for the rest of the day.  Went in and worked for 4 hours and then had to endure a training session with my coach.

So THAT was horrific.   Just what I wanted going into my Half Marathon!!!  There is not time to do another long before the race, so…here’s hoping that next Sunday is not a repeat of this Friday.

Couple of lessons I hope:

* Initially I thought I had gone out too fast.  After looking at the splits (agonizing over them really.), I realized that I really did not go out “too fast”.  I set a pace and maintained it for 6 miles- which is half of the run.  The second half of the run had very erratic splits which were related mostly to hillage.  I did not force the pace I was running for the first 6 at all, I just ran it.  I did not even have music to pace me…it was just me.  SO…on race day I don’t think I will make an intentional effort to run slower.  I’ll just try to find that comfortable pace and stick with it.

* Apparently going off Caffeine and then going abruptly back on it while using Caffeinated gels may have been a bit much for my body to handle.  Since my other long runs with the caffeine went find, I went right back on it  that day.  I can’t say I feel any different- better or worse.  But I currently feel so beat up by running 12 miles and then doing 45 mins of drills in one day that I am not sure which way is up.   During the run I felt a little jittery and sort of over stimulated there at the end.   I am glad I had the opportunity to try this out before race day…and VETO that strategy, though in theory, it seemed like a good plan.

* I may have been a bit dehydrated.  Either I started the run out low  (I had worked a very busy day the day before and drank very little water)  or the increased humidity of Friday’s run left me feeling super thirsty during the run.  When I ran 11 miles the week before I came back with my bottle still 1/3 of the way full.  THis time it was empty.  I immediately filled it and drank the whole thing and then more from the fountain….Soooo will be hydrating probably over hydrating the day before the race.

It’s a very unsettling feeling to have such a crappy run right before a race.  Very Humbling as well.  I had just seen my Physical Therapist and was a little puffed up- telling him I was going to have a 10 minute PR.  I did tell him, you know that things could go either way, but I was feeling sooo confident.  Now…I have to admit, I am feeling a bit shaky.

I also need to put this into perspective.  Just a little while ago, I was doing test jogs on the soccer field with my Physical Therapist knelt down on the field watching for any hip drop, or problems.  I could barely run a mile.  My hip was weak and my cardio was weaker.  I was so worried about the half because I did not think I could finish it.  I was sure I did not have enough time to train for it.   Now, I am frustrated because I want a 10 minute PR, and I am unsure I can do that!

Anyone have any suggestions at all.  Did I really go out too fast?  Or should I just ignore it, and have a glorious time at Seaside?

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7 thoughts on “Long run Blues

  1. Ken says:

    Training runs do not need to be as important timewise as distance is the real deal. I think you dropped the gels too early. Races generally go ok because others help pull one along. It is harder to train alone. I figure you will be ok and do not fret it. Coffee could dehydrate you as does tea, soda, beer. I use coffee daily. I think it is A ok and caffeine gets a bad rap.
    Ken , the dude in the day who did 50 a day for 6 days.

  2. I agree that you shouldn’t drop caffeine and then caffeine up before a long run. Either drink a cup in the morning daily or stop caffeine and don’t go back until after the event. If you like coffee, I would suggest going with a cup or little less every morning. Studies have shown a little can help many things to include digestive system and running performance.

    I am a little confused on your training pace versus your planned race pace? Training pace should be slower than race pace. I also think you should be tapering a little earlier.

    You are coming back from surgery, Holly. I think you should focus on running with joy rather than a PR. Geeze, woman, you are running at the beach. Enjoy it! There will be time for PRs when your body has had a chance to get used to the long run again.

    Sometimes running is harder than others. A bad training run does not mean a bad race. A bad training run means your body needs something… rest, nutrients… something.

    I hope you enjoy Seaside!

    • Yes, I was running the long Cassie pretty much at Race pace. Thats the issue with having no real plan except to increase the miles up to 12. It is crazy. My old coach used to say about me: “With MG, every run is a TEMPO run”. I am a terrible person to pace myself. In November, I was focused on being able to run/walk Seaside in under 3 hours. I could not run one mile I was so weak. I was wishing I had not registered. I think when I started being able to run faster times than I have been able to do in YEARS, I got a little bit excited. Most likely Seaside will be a PR, just because I am just plain running a little bit faster now.

      And I am really going to love Seaside. I jave tons of friends old and new coming. Team 413 will be there! the Gulf of Mexico is there! We have a house with a beautiful ktichen. and I can drink Coffee again. God has really blessed me. I think this last run may have been God telling me to not get over confident, and to take each moment as it comes…

  3. i think you just had a bad long run. yes, it was your last LR before your race and i 100% agree with Ken up here saying that it’s distance (mileage done). you got your miles in – and i, too am a big fan of caffeine.

    enjoy seaside. if you’re not hitting your timing to pr in the beginning of the race then just kick back and run and enjoy the scenery.

    • Thanks Bunny!
      I really need to keep it all in perspective. I am definitely struggling with pre race excitement and nerves…and some hassels with housing choices…will write on that later. BUt the way things are now, I feel good!!!! Can not wait to take my Zensah Girdle out for a race!

  4. I wonder if the caffeine had something to do with your being so thirsty, especially where you had gone off of it for a while. Before the Sedona race I did a practice run which was terrible. Then at the actual race I had my best time ever. Adrenalin maybe? Anyways, you never know.

    I hope you have a great race this Sunday! Please post about it. 🙂

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