With my half marathon less than two weeks away, the pressure is on! On Saturday I had another 9 miler on my schedule, and I was looking forward to it all week. Then Saturday came, and I didn’t want to do it. I had to go a little later in the morning (around 9:30) because Stephen had to take our dog to the vet, and it was already near 70 degrees by that point. (Apparently we’re skipping spring and going straight to summer. Lame.) I knew it was going to be hot, and I have gotten so used to running in 40- and 50-degree weather that I knew the heat would be a rude awakening. Still, I knew I had to do it if I was going to be ready for my race, so to the park I went.
This run was the first one where I was using energy gels. The last 9 miler was tough because I didn’t drink enough and then had serious gastrointestinal issues later on. I decided that the Gatorade G2 may be the reason my stomach was always upset after my runs, but I still needed to replenish my electrolytes, so I decided to buy some Gu energy gels. I bought 3 flavors: vanilla bean, lemon sublime, and strawberry banana. I brought the vanilla bean and lemon sublime with me and planned to take them around miles 4 and 7. I also brought 2 16-ounce bottles of water with me. I run a few laps around the park’s trail and then run in a nearby neighborhood, so I left my water bottle by my car so I could just stop briefly to drink some water before continuing my run. I felt good about my plan to stay hydrated and fueled, so I started my playlist and began my run.
The first few miles weren’t too bad, but it wasn’t five minutes before I already had sweat running down my face. Despite a forecast that called for a chance of rain, the sun was out in all its brightness, and I could feel beads of moisture start to form on my forehead and in the crooks of my arms. But I knew dwelling on how hot I was would only make this the world’s longest run, so I tried to distract myself with my music and just run. This worked most of the time, but I still watched my Garmin a lot more than I have in the past. I took my first Gu (the vanilla bean) at 3.75 miles, and it was so yummy! I really didn’t expect it to taste very good, so I was pleasantly surprised at its taste. It was a very sticky, gooey substance, and I chased it down with a considerable amount of water before starting my run again. (I’m going to have to figure out a way to run and fuel/hydrate at the same time, but I’m not there yet. Even in past races I’ve always walked through water stations because I end up choking if I try to run and drink at the same time, but other runners seem to manage it.) After my brief break I headed into the neighborhood. Here I managed to tackle some hills and kept a relatively steady pace the whole time. With the exception of my first mile, which I consider a warm-up, all my miles were between 11:45-11:55, and I was happy with that. Still, I wanted the run to be DONE! It was hot, and I was not enjoying myself as much as I have on previous runs. I toyed with the idea of quitting at 7 miles, but I knew I had to finish this distance so I would be set to run 10 miles this week. I told myself the morning of my race could be really hot, and I certainly wasn’t going to let heat prevent me from running the race, so why let it prevent me from finishing this training run?
I took my 2nd Gu and more water at mile 7 and headed back into the park to finish the last 2 miles. Not too long after I had taken the Gu, my stomach started to feel unsettled. I realized I had probably drunk too much water too quickly, and it was all sitting in my stomach like a brick. I ended up taking a walking break (my first one) for about a minute and a half before running again and actually felt much better. When my Garmin beeped to signal the completion of mile 8, I looked down and saw 12:26 as my time. I thought, “Oh, no you don’t, Erin, you’re not going to finish this run at a snail’s pace!”
So I finished mile 9 in 11:15, the fastest mile of the whole run. 🙂
My run on Saturday wasn’t my best run, but I still got out there and gave it my all. If I do the same thing the day of my race, I know I’ll finish and finish strong.
FTC disclosure: Gu did not compensate me in any way for my review of its product. The opinions in this post are entirely my own.