I dutifully suited up in my winter gear preparing for the mid-thirty degree and mildly windy weather. But something happened that I was not prepared for. About two miles in I was looking at some flags. They were blowing the wrong way. How can a flag blow the wrong way? Well, I am glad you asked. The wrong way is the way that they do not normally blow. The wrong way is a tail wind on my first leg and a head wind on my major middle leg of my run.
I had overdressed. I was quite warm and didn’t feel good. I didn’t feel smooth. I felt slow. I unzipped my coat and the moist air coming out on each step was steaming up my glasses! I wanted to walk. My calves were tight and my left foot started to go numb again. I was thinking about when I’d stop the run. I was thinking about how the best thing for my training would be to call it a day. …But if I finished I’d have the longest week of my life. And as I thought about that I also knew that I’d be proud to cut it short in spite of losing the title of the longest week. But I chose to be stupid and kept running and I even made things worse.
At the first checkpoint, my parents house (6.5 miles in), I stopped and left my wind breaker. Wind breakers break wind (gross). That is what they are designed for. And like an idiot I took it off and charged into a head wind with two very wet shirts. I was instantly cold and felt that way for another hour and a half. If I hadn’t been so cold I might have been thinking about how dead my legs were and how slowly I was running.
The last time I wished to be done with a run this much was when I ran the Marine Corps. Marathon in 2008. But I soldered on like an idiot for the sake of running 71.5 miles in a single Monday-Sunday span.
I thought about what went wrong since I very rarely have a bad long run. Here are some ideas:
- I didn’t eat enough this week
- I ran too much, particularly the 9+ miles on Friday.
- I didn’t dress properly
- I was trying to get over a cold all week
- I need to make a sacrifice to the great gods of running (Lord Nike, Prince Mizuno, Sultan Saucony, etc)
The most likely it is a combination of all of the above. The most important lesson is that I lied to myself. Running by feel requires being honest with yourself and I lied — twice.