Last night, I was up somewhat late. We attended a high school football game and I made sure to take in some extra calories in preparation for my 12 mile run today. I managed to get up at around 6:30 and I was out the door just before 7. I wore my microfiber, long sleeved running shirt, but the air was not as cool as I suspected. Still, it wasn’t hot, so I set off. I foxused my thoughts during my warmup on starting off slow.
My run starts out well. My goal for the first mile is 11:15-11:30. My goal pace for the whole run is 10:30 per mile, though in the back of my head, I think it would be pretty cool to finish under 2 hours. My memories of this week’s 6 mile run serve me well in keeping my pace slow over the first mile. I cross the 1 mile mark in 11 minutes.
I continue to remind myself to slow down over the 2nd mile. As I approach the waterfront park, it gets continually more difficult. I’m in the presence of other runners and I subconsciously speed up. I run the second mile in 10:23.
As I push comfortably into the third mile, I notice that the park proper is fenced off. Tonight is Octoberfest and Loverboy will be playing to thousands of beer guzzling, brat eating revelers. It’s a paid admission event and access to the park is already restricted. It’s not a big problem as the street is closed to traffic, so I can just cruise along the fence on the street. Unfortunately, my water fountain is inside the fence, so my 3 mile and 9 mile water breaks are just going to be walk breaks sans water. I wistfully pass by the water fountain. I complete the 3rd mile in 9:45.
I take a 1 minute walk break. I pass a camp of women participating in some kind of breast cancer related event. The area is more crowded than normal, but nothing compared to the Race of the Cure crowd I experienced earler in the month. I start running again and head toward the famous St. Petersburg Pier. If you’ve ever watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play on Monday night football, you’ve likely seen the St. Petersburg Pier lit up on the way to a commercial break. It’s a half mile from the street to the end of the Pier, so adding this to my run adds a total of 2 miles to the trip, allowing me to follow basically the same route as my 10 mile run two weeks ago. Running back to the street from the end of the pier, I pass the 4 mile mark. I’ve run the 4th mile in 10:18.
I’m still feeling quite comfortable. The sun has risen, but it’s quite cloudy so the heat hasn’t been a factor. In fact, it’s started to rain. It’s a fairly light drizzle, so it’s really no big deal. During the fifth mile, the rain picks up and it’s starting to get a little annoying. Still, I’m comfortable and I complete the fifth mile in 9:44.
The rain picks up a little more as I cruise past the airport. I reach the USF College of Marine Science. I’m down to 2 weeks until I’ll defend my Ph.D. dissertation here. I’m behind on putting my presentation together and I try not to think about it. I run through the rain, past the research vessels, and onto the main part of campus. Just before the Dali museum, I hit the 6 mile mark. I’ve run the 6th mile in 9:49.
I turn and run back to the campus buildings where my first and only water break awaits. I linger at the water fountain and take a slightly longer than usual walk break. I’m halfway through my run and my legs are feeling a little tired, but nothing bad. I’m still comfortable except for the rain and I retrace my steps. The rain has actually gone a little beyond annoying. My shirt is soaked. This shirt is normally very good at drying out, but when it’s continuously raining, it doesn’t have much of a chance. I’m also running along the water where drainage is pretty poor. I’ve stepped in a number of puddles and my shoes are awfully wet too. I’m certainly carrying a few extra pounds. I run the 7th mile in 11:14, thanks mostly to the extended walk break.
I’m still in a good rhythm as I run past the airport and back toward the Pier. I pass the Yacht Club and the rain is still falling. I’m starting to really feel the added weight now, but my rhythm is good and I just go with it. Back on the Pier, I finish the 8th mile in 9:34.
As I reach the end of the Pier, the rain finally stops. I welcome the change but that damage has been done. My shirt will dry out, but the wet shoes are with until the end. Tasting my next walk break, I speed up. I run the 9th mile in 9:06 and take a 1 minute walk break.
During the walk break, the stiffness in my legs becomes apparent. It takes a slow acceleration to get back to speed when I start running again. I’m in the home stretch, though and I soon fall back into a good rhythm. I know I’ve got a fighting chance at finishing under 2 hours if I can maintain a steady 9:30-9:40 pace the rest of the way. I run the 10th mile in 10 minutes flat because of the walk break.
My legs are very tired. I give very serious thought to walking again at 10 miles and I stumble for a step as I quickly convince myself that 2 hours is in reach and I should keep going. I round a corner and pick up a tail wind toward the bridge back to the neighborhood. The incline of the bridge is tought, but I take it slow and steady, the descend the other side with nice control. There is fortunately no traffic to stop me as I cross the street. Breaking my rhythm now would result in another walk break, I’m sure. I continue on. I run the 11th mile in 9:37.
I’ve got about 9:30 seconds to run the last mile in order to finish under 2 hours. My legs are very tired, but the thought of pulling this off is carrying me on. My heart rate is at a steady 165 and my breathing is comfortable. The key is to just keep my legs moving. Usually when I get a side stitch, it starts small and slowly develops to a painful level over the course of several minutes. I’ve now developed a very painful side stitch over the course of about 2 seconds. At the same time, my shoulders have tightened up and my legs have stopped moving. I wobble and stop. I’m physically unable to run. I won’t be finishing in under 2 hours. I walk for about a tenth of a mile, then try a low jog. It doesn’t last long. After another tenth of a mile, the stitch returns and my legs wobble again. I’m so close, but my muscles are telling me I’m out of fuel. There’s nothing left in the tank at all. At 11.95 miles, I jog again and barely make it to the 12 mile mark before the stitch comes back with a fury. I’ve run 12 miles in 2:02:45 – a 10:13 per mile pace.
1 mile warmup
12 miles at 10:30 pace
1 mile cooldown
1 mile warmup
12 miles at 10:13 pace
1 mile cooldown
I’m not sure exactly why I bonked in such a fashion. These runs are getting longer and it may be time to start taking in some calories during the runs. The added weight of the rain may have played some part, but with 13 miles to run next week and more than twice that to run in the marathon, I need to take a closer look at my diet in the coming weeks.