I learned something valuable yesterday. Do you want to make sure you are going to finish your long run? Simply do a long loop or an out and back. And leave your phone in the car or at home. You'll have no choice but to finish the run! Needless to say - that's exactly what I did yesterday. And I was wondering about my commitment about 12 miles in when my calves started cramping! I "ran" (okay - shuffled) the last six miles.
I knew that heat was going to be a factor, so I was out the door at 6AM. I pulled my stuff together (fuel belt, a couple of Gus (vanilla bean and espresso love), an Apricot Clif bar) and headed on down the San Diego Creek trail. Now, eighteen miles of out and back didn't really appeal to me, so while I was running, I was trying to figure out if there was a new route that I could somehow piece together a long loop instead of an out and back. And then I had a stroke of genius:
(1) I could run the first nine miles on the San Diego Creek Trail.
(2) At that point I would be running on the same route as the Cinco de Mayo Half marathon, I could run that for a couple of miles and I would be pretty close to Shady Canyon
(3) Finally, I could run through Shady Canyon, pop out where I started that run, and just continue a couple more miles back to my start point
Sounded like a plan!
The first 8, heck, the first 10 miles were pretty uneventful. And boring. But I kept the feet moving and before I knew it, I was sitting at the same table in Shady Canyon I had been at a couple of weeks earlier. I grabbed my Clif Bar and refilled water and was off to finish things up. I started up the hill into Shady Canyon when my calves started cramping. These weren't your little "Oh - take it easy will ya!" cramps. These were outright big muscle knot cramps. I stopped and released them, but things went downhill pretty quickly from this point. My "run" became a shuffle for a mile or so, stop and work out cramps and repeat. On top of that, my heart rate started spiking. The only way I could keep my heart rate down was to slow down. Slower. And slower. Ouch! More cramping. Crap. Ole Sol up there in the sky was beating me down! Slower and slower and slower.
I did finish. Not out of choice though. I was miserable. I was reduced to walk shuffle walk shuffle. Not even a wog. I wish I could say that I summonned some tremendous will power or channeled some higher energy source. It was knowing that the only way that I was going to get home was to make it back to my car. I had no cell phone , so calling for a pickup was out of the question. Since this is Southern California, cabs don't exist outside of an airport. So I just kept shuffling....
The ugly truth: eighteen miles at an average pace of 12:15 per mile. Average heart rate 75% of max (only because I had to go so damn slow the last four miles!) I'll try to work out the soreness this morning with a short little six mile recovery run (yeah I know - since when does six miles equate with short - ring the elitist bell on me!)