No matter what training plan you read or who you talk to, everyone preaches the value of the long run to marathon training. And it makes sense. You gradually train your body (and your mind) to endure more and more mileage. And, if I can tell you a secret, long runs are my favorite thing about marathon training. Not actually doing them... but the feeling afterwards. It's almost as rewarding as running the actual marathon itself. I mean, I love the fact that I can wake up on a sunday morning... pound 16+ miles out on the pavement (before most people have even woken up) and go about my day as usual. All the while thinking to myself... hells yeah, I ran 16+ miles today AND did x,y, and z. I am kick ass. (Yes, it sounds like I am an ego freak, but you other runners can't tell me that you aren't the same way).
So, while the long runs are generally boring, grueling, and sucky... it's always worth it in the end.
Sunday was the first "official" long run of this training period. And by official, I mean... longer than a half marathon. Vandy Montana and I have decided to adjust our training plans slightly by linking them up to match the Nashville Striders Marathon Training runs. Sunday was the first one. The Bongo to Bongo 14 miler. Basically, you start in East Nashville at Bongo Java East, make your way across the river, through downtown, through music row and to Bongo Java Belmont and beyond and then taking the exact trip back. 14 miles... 9-10 of which are routes that I take on a daily basis, so I knew what to expect.
For whatever reason... I didn't really treat this as a long run. I didn't wake up early enough and I probably ate too much before I left my house... both of these things would come back to haunt me during the run.
We pulled up to the coffee shop with about 5 minutes to spare. Not really ideal, but doable. This run was definitely smaller than other training runs I've done.... but, I'm sure as the mileage increases, so does the number of people at these runs.
In the first mile... I jinxed myself by mentioning to Vandy Montana... ummm.. maybe one of us should have brought a pair of our house keys (since we would be running 1 block from each of our houses). But, everything was hunky dory for the first 4-5 miles. We were cruising along... enjoying the fact that there were other runners around and that we got to run on the asphalt instead of the sidewalks. And then... I started to feel a little... how should I say... uncomfortable. My legs, my lungs, my brain... all those things were right on. But... my stomach... was starting to garner some attention. I tried not thinking about it, but by the time we got to the downhill part of Belmont Blvd I was looking desperately for a porta-potty. Vandy Montana offered up a couple homes of people he knew who lived in the area. But, hell, who wants to wake up at 7:45 on a Sunday morning to someone banging on their door needing to desperately use their bathroom??? I pushed on... praying that the little po-dunk grocery store ahead would be open. It wasn't.
Miraculously, though... immediately after the grocery store (which, was literally the LAST chance to use a public bathroom for about 2-3 miles) I spotted a porta-potty and sprinted off in its direction. Even more miraculously... the porta potty was fairly clean and... get this... it had toilet paper! I was saved! I emerged from that porta potty feeling like a new woman.
All was well until the stop around mile 8-9 to gu up. Now... I'm not a gu girl. I haven't trained with gu in the last three marathons that I've ran. But, I've decided that this time around... I need to. And so I planned on taking one gu this training run. We got to the water station and I forced my gu down with a couple of sips of water and off we went again.
Now, it wasn't even 5 minutes after taking that gu and water that my stomach started grumbling. I was kicking myself for not bringing my house keys along, because we literally ran one block away from my house. Vandy Montana tried to convince me to go into a church and use the bathroom there.... and then later a hotel... but, I don't know... I just felt weird about that. In hindsight, I realize how idiotic that is. I mean, when faced with the choice of a building with a clean, public bathroom and a porta-potty... why was I so hellbent on the porta potty? I guess it's that whole thing... well, it's not MY church... and I'm not staying at THAT hotel... I didn't want to be a user. But, eventually the situation got DIRE and I had to reroute us to hit up a ghetto mcdonalds.
Amazingly... even with these stomach issues, we were able to maintain a pretty consistent 8:45/9:00 pace. It sucked because the bathroom stops caused us to get out of the pack and so it wasn't quite as fun as it would have been with lots of other runners around.
But, aside from the stomach issues... the run was awesome. I felt like we cranked the 14 miles out pretty easily and didn't struggle with any fatigue really. I know I need to get up earlier in the morning to keep from getting such crappy stomach problems (pun not intended)... but I am a LITTLE concerned about the gu situation. Maybe I won't be able to use gu... maybe I will just have to stick with gatorade while on runs...
To be determined I guess...
(Also, I had intended on taking my camera to the run to take pics of the crowd, etc... but, of course... I forgot it. Ugh.)