For those who may have missed it, my Weekly Workout Round-Up for July 22-29 included a Friday morning 22 mile run.
First of all, I must emphasize that a 22 mile run is not necessary for marathon training (Perth Marathon, Aug. 25). In fact, I wouldn’t even put it on a marathon-training schedule for most of my runners (myself included). But this run wasn’t really for my marathon training – it was a stepping stone to some longer distance training runs I’ll be doing to prepare for my first 50K (The North Face 50K, Oct. 5). Basically, I have used marathon training as a motivator for me to increase my mileage over the past 4-5 months. And I’m using the 50K training to keep myself honest about marathon training and my goal to build mileage – not (yet) to train for/run a super-fast marathon. (I can’t do a 50K without decent mileage – but I can do a 50K without much emphasis on speedwork.)
So – 22 miles on Friday morning. On Thursday night, I prepared some food, clothes, hydration, and an early alarm clock. In the morning, I had some breakfast, finished prepping my supplies, and headed out for 22 miles. Having grown bored with my regular routes, I decided to explore a path to the Botanical Gardens, run around/through the gardens a bit, then head back and finish in AMK/Bishan Park. For fun and motivation, I decided to bring some friends along:
It didn’t take long before I got myself into route trouble. Hint: “I think this will work” route planning on Gmaps isn’t *always* the best idea…
I don’t usually carry my phone when I run (mostly for moisture-related reasons – but there’s a lot to be said about this in some upcoming posts, thanks to Amy!). However, for this long run, I knew that water stops might be few and far between, so I brought my hydration pack. While my whole hydration pack gets sweat-soaked on a long run, it’s not *quite* as wet/dangerous for a phone as being shoved in my shorts pocket or bra top, and I trust my double-ziplock-bagging technique to keep it dry (enough). So thankfully, when I got “stuck”, I just whipped out my phone. [Note that, thanks to the humidity in Singapore, I only remove one of the plastic bags, and simply use the phone through the second…because the sweat on my hands alone would be enough to ruin my phone, if it got into the wrong cracks/crevices.] And my persistence paid off, because I discovered a route/road that I will be using a lot in the future [Hint for locals: Kheam Hock Road lets you scoot right under the PIE – no sidewalks for a bit, but there’s not much traffic!]!
I made it to the Botanical Gardens, and set out to run one loop around the outside (Dunearn Rd > Cluny Rd > Holland Rd > Cluny Park Rd). But I missed a turn, ended up almost in Holland Village, and had to double-back. Then, while navigating the Tyersall Ave section (which I’ve never actually walked, run, or driven), I ended up climbing both Gallop Road and Gallop Walk (dead ends), before finally finding my way back to Dunearn Road.
In other words: Always expect that an exploratory run will take a bit of extra time/distance. This had been my plan anyway – I had 22 miles to cover on one small island, so burning a few miles doing route investigation was no big deal!
For good measure, and to cement the correct path in my head, I ran a second loop – with much greater success, bringing my distance up to about 13 miles. I swung through the Amenities Center in the Gardens to use the restroom, refill my hydration pack, and update:
And with that, I left the Botanical Gardens (which seem considerably smaller when you’re running, rather than walking) and retraced my steps back toward home. I took a short detour through Bukit Brown Cemetery – a spot which also deserves its own post. Basically, I felt like I took a gigantic step back in time, running through this old, overgrown, mostly-neglected Chinese Cemetery. Kinda creepy-cool, actually.
Also during this cemetery detour, I really started getting tired, mentally and physically. I’d been cruising along just fine, but knew that it was time to start “chunking” the remaining miles. “Chunking” is my favorite brain-tricking game for getting through a tough run, of any distance. Basically, I divide the remaining run up into segments, by location/distance/time (depending on my mood), and simply focus on getting through the current segment. This is a remarkably effective strategy for me, and it’s gotten me through many a tough run. And no, the “chunks” don’t have to be equal. On this particular day, my Chunks were:
Chunk #1: “Get to mile 16. If you were Jeano, running the Hanson’s plan, then you’d be DONE at 16 miles.”
Chunk #2: “Get to 18. You did 18 miles on the treadmill during the haze. You can TOTALLY do 18 miles outdoors.”
At that point, this thought kicked in:
Chunk #3: “Get to 20 miles. You did 20 miles two weeks ago in New Jersey.”
Chunk #4: “FINISH. No, you do NOT need to stop for lemonade. You have two measly miles left. You can have all the lemonade you want when you get home.”
The truth is that the last 3-4 miles were really challenging. My legs were tired and I was definitely dehydrated (despite consuming 3+ liters of water, 3 salt tabs, 2 packs of Sports Beans, and 1 pack of Honey Stingers). How do I know I was dehydrated? My body told me: The ONLY thing I could think about during the last 2-3 miles was an enormous, cold glass of lemonade or 100 Plus. Yes, I was craving 100 Plus – definitely dehydrated!
[Safety Note: I was dehydrated, but safe – I was still taking in plenty of water, and not experiencing any symptoms of severe dehydration or heat-related illness: cramping, headache, chills, cessation of sweating, etc. Running long distances in Singapore is dehydrating, and I know my body pretty well. I wasn’t doing much damage by finishing out my last 2 miles before stopping for 100Plus. If I felt that intense craving at Mile 10, I would have acted differently. Safety first, people!]
With 2 miles to go, I made myself practice the final miles of the marathon. I’d be tired then, and have to keep running. So I kept running, thinking to myself: “Quick turnover, light steps, drive your knees” (these are my form cues). And finally…1 mile left. “I can do anything for 1 mile.” At that point, I knew I had it made. For me, the last mile is usually much easier than the second to last mile!
And then…I was done. I stopped at the first hawker center I passed to buy a cold 100 Plus. When I got home, I gobbled down approximately one zillion slices of watermelon.
This run was exactly what I needed: Long, slow distance (9:40 min/mi pace), for both a mental and physical workout, as well as practice for a long run at Singapore temps – which will be crucial for the 50K! And despite my end-of-run fluid cravings, my recovery went pretty well. After refueling, showering, and propping my feet up for a few hours, I felt pretty good – and finally remembered to update my
adoring bored public:
I even had enough spunk to meet a client for a short run, go to a Yoga For Runners class in the evening, and join KMN for a late-night-date-night at my current favorite post-hard-run spot: Fat Boys (a burger joint – very American, I know). I ordered the chicken Caesar sandwich (I actually don’t eat beef burgers), fries, and a root beer float. I finished every bite (so quickly that there was no photo taken!), then went home, and slept like crazy!
And that, my friends, is the story of my longest training run ever, in excruciating detail. Thanks for playing along!
Have you ever FB-posted or Tweeted your way through a run?
How do you pick a “good” watermelon? I poke them, smell them, and tap them – but honestly have no idea what combination of results to those tests means that the fruit will be sweet and delicious.
Do you “chunk”?