Yesterday I ran from 7 AM to 4 PM and a distance of 37 miles. This is the longest that I have run to date. I ran in the Barton Greenbelt in Austin, Texas. The last time I attempted a long 30 mile training run I ran out of fuel and only completed 28 miles. During that 28 mile run on 10/25/2008 I now know that the lack of fuel for my body directly affects the ability of my brain to focus on running.
There are several hurdles that I will overcome in my quest to do my 62 mile run at Bandera in January 2009. One of these hurdles was how to fuel my body on long runs. During my run yesterday I tried Spiz for the first time. I used Spiz exclusively for fuel with the exception of two handfuls of cashews and two sticks of dried sweetened papaya. The Spiz really helped because on my last lap at mile 30 from Zilker Park to the Hill of Life I was able to run the whole way with confidence and energy. I only slowed my pace to go over the really rocky spots because I really wanted to finish without an injury to my tired feet.
I am using two bladders in my Nathan back pack. I use the original Nathan bladder for 2.0 liters of water mixed with two scoops of Heed. I also add a Camelback 1.5 liter bladder with water and 4 scoops of Spiz. My estimate is that I can run 15 miles with this fuel pack unsupported.
I also learned about Suceed S!Caps on this run. Roger Davis was the coach on this run. At the first stop at Zilker Park at mile 17, he met us to see how we were doing. He asked if anyone needed salt tablets. He said that the lack of salt in your body prevents you from absorbing fluids. I believe that the salt tablets are the missing link to my after event leg cramps. I have done years of biking with distances of 100 miles and I have always relied on real food and no salt. I always relied on Gatorade to replenish my elements. A 100 mile bike ride takes me from 4 to 6 hours depending on the route and stops. Running for 6 to 9 hours puts my body into a completely different realm of fueling needs. I did notice that at the end of my run that my ring finger was not as large as it normally is so the salt tablets did help.
OK, so what was I feeling while I was running? I ran with the group in my class for 20 miles. I was the only one in the group that was running the 35 mile training. It was really nice to be running with a pack of friends and chatting along the way. I knew that my last 15miles would be lonely so I was planning to save my iPod for that leg of my run.
Running endurance races is a challenge. I have come to understand that endurance running like any project takes planning. Part of executing a project plan is being able to break the project up into smaller projects with a timeline. I have started to do this with my runs. Instead of looking at the whole distance when I start and getting overwhelmed I only look at the run in stages or loops.
This run had three stages. The first stage was a 9 mile loop down the Hill of Life and across the second dam at Barton Creek and then up the Hill of Death to the power Lines. We continued on the power line trail until we hit the chain link fence. we then turned around and headed back up to the Hill of Life. The second and third stages were from the Hill of Life down to Zilker Park and back. Each stage for the Hill of Life to Zilker Park is 14 miles round trip. I started the day thinking about running each stage and resting during my refueling.
My first goal was that I wanted to complete this run in 7 hours, but it took me 9. My second goal was to see how long I could run on Spiz. I wanted to see what my body would do during a long run. I am glad that I was able to gain access to the knowledge that my body can run for 9 hours and recover. Today I am supposed to run 15 miles. Currently I am wondering if I will be able to do it this evening.
At one point during my last stage from Zilker to the finish I felt like crying. I had just past my 30 mile mark which meant that I was now running further than I had ever run. It is amazing what you can do when you create the possibility that you can do it and you surround yourself with other people that can support your goals. I am glad that the coaches and members of my Rogue Running class are all supportive in my efforts to attain my goals. I also feel like I am supporting them with my positive attitude and efforts. It really helps to be around people that are reaching out beyond what is probable to create what is possible. When I listen to people who complain about walking a mile the voice in my head tells me I am crazy for wanting to run 60 miles. When I am around people that run 100 mile races the voice in my head suddenly gets really quite.
During my long runs I get ideas in my head. I do not try to understand where they come from, I just enjoy them. When I had my iPod on a song came on during my shuffle play, it was by Public Image Limited (PIL). The song was Warrior.
So I was running through the canyons of Texas and I felt my Cherokee African ancestors running within me. I felt my heart crying and laughing with joy at the energy and beauty that I felt running on the ground and rocks of Barton Creek. I felt like I was a primal Aboriginal running in America before there were horses and the only way to get around was by running. These are just some of the thoughts that go through my head when I am running.