Sunday, July 19, 2009

Commitment and Misery

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!)


  1. Wow. That sounds pretty awful. How smart of you for leaving the phone in the car.

    How did you get that map?

  2. gahh..sorry to hear about the leg cramps!!!

    i am still positive you came closer to the 50 miles this week than i did - i ended with 40, and im content with it.

    i ALWAYS leave my phone in the car, which could be a good thing or a bad thing. bad, for safety reasons. good, because although im not sure i would ever call someone to save me from finishing a treachorous run, the thought would be oh so tempting!

  3. Running with pain is no fun! Hope you aren't too sore after that!

  4. That sounds painful!
    The scary thing about doing greater distances is that you more or less automatically need to go further from home/car/etc. Cramping up at the far end of the run is scary stuff.

    Hope you can work out the soreness quickly

  5. ah, running in So Cal during the height of summer...this pretty much sums it up right here!

    Sometimes, ya just gotta take the time on your feet and throw everything else out the door. You toughed it out, finished and that's what counts. Good job Glenn.

  6. Sorry you had such a tough run. My 16 miler was tough on Saturday too! But you just chalk it up to one of those days and keep going.

  7. I've never had leg cramps, and after your post I hope that I never do. :( Hope your legs are feeling ok today.

  8. This sounds pretty familiar. When training for my first marathon, I did a 16 miler out and back. I started really, really feeling it about 7.5 miles in. I forced myself to go all the way out to 8 miles, then it was walk/shuffle all the way home!

    When all was said and done, that marathon ended up being such a struggle to just finish in pain, that it may have been my most important training run!

    I hope your marathon goes much better.

  9. Sometimes commitment IS misery. Good for you for finishing!

  10. Just catching up on your blog Glenn- I'm sorry that you had a rough time on this run. I never heard of a 'wog' before- so that was pretty funny!

    Also congrats on being halfway there!!! That is a MAJOR accomplishment and something to be proud of!!

    As far as cross training goes...yeah....what is WRONG with us triathletes?? lol

  11. hopefully you won some big mental battles with this run! I feel your pain almost just by reading about it. we all hit a roadblock on our long runs but hopefully this won't happen come race day. put the hard, sloppy runs behind you now and have a strong showing at the race! I'm sure being out there was the last thing you wanted but you toughed it out. remind yourself of that the next time you struggle!