My attempted 30 miler today did not go as planned. I ran just over 16 miles before I decided to call it a day. I am trying to remain positive and use my failed attempt as a learning tool for future long runs.
The whole day started out on the wrong foot. I had a 645am photoshoot with the Daily News in Central Park – my plan was to start my run immediately upon finishing. Unfortunately, although I was promised it would only take 15 min, the shoot actually lasted almost 2 hours – and about an hour of it consisted of me running up and down a hill – over and over and over again. Because of the delay, I didn’t actually start my run until 945 – after being up over 5 hours and having only eaten a piece of whole wheat bread with peanut butter. In addition, there were refueling issues, major crowding in the park due to a breast cancer walk, and strong winds – which only added to my lack of motivation to finish the run. Here are my key takeaways from today:
1. Don’t leave things to the last minute. I realized last night that I had run out of power gels (my energy refueling option). I decided to put it off until this morning – and planned to stop at a pharmacy on our way into the city. Unfortunately, I completely forgot until we were already in the city and getting ready to head out the door. Paul ran to 3 local stores – the only option were vitamin chews (that I had never tried before) – but I figured that it was better than nothing. This leads to my next lesson…
2. Never try something new on a long run. Assuming the vitamin chews would meet my energy requirements was foolish. I took the first at mile 8 and never felt any energy boost like I usually do with the caffeinated power gels I rely on. About 10 minutes after taking the second at mile 13, my stomach started to cramp and I felt as though I was going to be sick. I hoped it would fade away, but after a mile, I realized I would not be able to run another 13+ miles with the vitamin chews as my only source of energy.
3. Always bring extra food with you. My pre-long run ritual is simple. I eat one piece of whole wheat bread with peanut butter about 45 min before I begin. I assumed the photoshoot would take 15-30 min, so I ate in the car into the city. Big mistake. If I had packed an extra sandwich, I could have just repeated the ritual after the photoshoot ended. Instead, I had to rely on food that I ate 3 hours prior to starting the run.
4. Never run in Central Park after 10am on the weekend. This is a lesson that I thought I thought I had learned the hard way numerous times. Central Park is a beautiful, amazing, quiet place to run – as long as you are running before the hordes of tourists are out. There was also a breast cancer walk going on at 9am which attracted thousands of walkers. Combine the walkers with the tourists and the result was an overcrowded park – so packed that at times there was no room to run – I had to weave in and out of the crowds. This was my own fault. I know better and should have made sure I was running long before the event started and the tourists were out sightseeing. The “stop and go” running only added to my building frustration and was another factor of why I wanted to stop.
5. When trying my longest run ever, pick a flatter, easier course. I shouldn’t have been so ambitious with wanting to do my 30 miler in Central Park (my favorite place in the world to run). I should have planned a route that included more flat, even terrain. After a few 30+ milers under my belt, then I should attempt a tougher course.
Taking all of these lessons into account, I have decided to give the 30-miler another try this Friday (on my actual birthday). I plan on doing the course along the SI boardwalk and into Fort Wadsworth (which has a few hills- should be a nice break from the flat boardwalk) first thing in the morning (5am). If all goes as planned, I should be finished before 930 and still have the whole day to spend with Paul and AJ!!! Keep your fingers crossed!