On Sunday 8/26 John and I planned to run our second 20+ mile long run as part of our training for the 2007 Rochester Marathon. I prepared all week for the run sacrificing an excellent meal at Red Robin and avoiding anything that could possibly harm my performance for the long run. I’m happy to report that almost everything was in my favor on Sunday and I had the best long run of my life.
The morning of the run started out very badly. I woke up at 5 AM not wanting to get up yet. As soon as I woke up I knew I was in trouble — I had a visual disturbance that meant I was getting a migraine. I considered postponing the run but I decided that it would be good practice. After all, it’s entirely possible that I could have a migraine on the day of the marathon.
I did my (now) normal early morning long run routine. I ate a sesame bagel with nothing on it. I washed it down with plenty of water. To help combat the migraine I also downed two Exedrin Migraine pills. They are a cocktail of acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, and caffeine. I was a little nervous about taking the caffeine because I avoid caffeine almost entirely these days. I figured it was worth the risk. After eating I showered, suited up, and then sat down to read Harry Potter to pass the time until I could leave for John’s house. I have to eat 2 hours before the run and it doesn’t take me nearly that long to get ready. Even though it’s early I kind of like have the “extra” time.
I felt lucky. My migraine appeared to be mild. The visual disturbance disappeared well before I drove to John’s. Had it not I wouldn’t have been able to drive and I would have had to ask Mary to drive me (she offered before I even had to ask). John and I packed up the car and headed over to Fleet Feet.
Learning from past mistakes we had lots of fluids ready. In my Fuel Belt I had 4 bottles of Power Endurance drink and 2 bottles of water. The water is for washing down gel. I also brought 16 ounces of additional water and 16 ounces of additional Endurance drink to refill bottles if I needed to.
Our route took us through the Park Ave/East Ave section of Rochester twice and we had a short 5 mile jaunt to the canal. Our hope was to make the run longer than 20 miles with 22 being our goal. By putting a 5 mile loop in between an 8 mile loop it’s very hard to take the easy way out. If you are 2 miles from home it’s very likely you won’t start walking.
We started out at a nice even pace. I felt bad and concerned for John because he’s running through an injury. I’m concerned that he’s going to do more damage if he keeps running through the pain. However I also love having a running partner for long runs and so I don’t urge him too much to take it easy (yeah, I’m a selfish person). At first my stomach was a little upset due to the migraine. After a few miles that went away and I felt great! I couldn’t believe how good I felt while running through a migraine.
I continued to feel great through many miles. At around mile 18 John and I split apart to run at our own paces. I with “See you in another life, Brotha” and he with “Strength and honor.” I picked up the pace a bit and still felt great. I couldn’t believe that I felt that good after running for 18+ miles. I decided that if I still felt good at the 22 mile mark (our goal distance) that I’d run longer. I wanted to do more than 22 miles and less than 24. After completing my first marathon early this year I decided that I needed to do some long runs of 22-24 miles to train for how it feels after hitting the wall.
I reached the 22 mile mark and continued on! I wasn’t sure that it had been 22 miles, it could have been more or less. I ended up running an additional 12-15 minutes beyond the point that I thought was 22 miles. I was tired but I still felt really good. I didn’t want to run more than 24 miles for fear of over-training.
When all was done I completed 23.37 miles in 3:54:49, just about a 10 minute pace. My pace was decent but what made me most happy was how I felt during the run. I felt great. I felt great during the run, at the end of the run, and after the run. I could have easily completed 26.2 that day. That’s the sort of confidence that I’ve been looking for with every 18+ mile run that I’ve done.
I did NOT walk. I stopped 3 times. I stopped twice at the car to refuel my water/sports drink supply and I stopped once to pee. The longest I’ve run without walking prior to this was somewhere between 16 and 18 miles.
The only thing that was not in my favor that day was the migraine but it proved to be a non-issue. What I wonder now is what led to such a great run:
- The caffeine in the Excedrin?
- The great sleep that I got all week?
- My increased carbohydrate and salt intake for the week prior to the run?
- The overcast and reasonably cool weather?
- My hydration strategy during the run?
- My hydration strategy before the run?
- My hydration strategy in the week prior to the run?
- The increased amount of water I took with each gel?
- Was it just a good day?
We have another 20 mile run planned for Sunday. I’m not expecting it to go as well as last weekend but I’m hoping it’ll at least be good. Tonight we have a 7 mile tempo run. It’s pretty warm and I’m not inclined to push things too hard. I’m expecting a little over a 9 minute pace for tonight.