I had planned to run eighteen miles this week. But instead of taking another shot at the out-and-back road course I attempted during my failed eighteen-miler on Wednesday, I decided to revert to my 3.75-mile desert loop (there was more traffic on the road than I had anticipated at six in the morning). Five loops would have made 18.75 miles. At first, I thought Why not run a few extra minutes to get nineteen? But during the run, I kept thinking When I've already gone nineteen, what's one more? And that is how I ended up running twenty miles today.
It took me three hours and nine minutes. I am ecstatic to have made it over the mental hump that is twenty miles! It gave me such a feeling of I really CAN do this! But all the credit belongs to the Lord--I could not do this without Him by my side, nor would I even want to try.
I took a waterbottle and two packs of Clif Shot Bloks to the start with me. I ate at least one Blok per lap (probably 15 to 20 calories each), whereas on previous long runs, I just ate a GU near the mid-point of the run. I think eating every lap helped, if only mentally. I like chewables better than gels, but I had a problem with these in particular: they are so large and dense as to require more chewing than I want to engage in while running. GU is too gooey, the Bloks aren't gooey enough...there is a perfect solution out there, and I WILL find it!
(Side note: in the book Born to Run, Christopher McDougall mentions ultrarunners who eat real food during both training and races. This idea appeals to me, but I don't know where to begin. Peanut butter sandwiches? Bean tacos? Applesauce? I want to try it, and I guess it will just be trial-and-error).
I felt great, until the last two or three miles. And even then, I didn't feel as bad as, say, Frodo and Sam on the final approach to Mount Doom,* but I was ready to be finished. A few minutes before the end, I saw a girl walking a dog, and since I usually see no one out there, I started to think I was hallucinating. But she was real, no worries. That, or my hallucinations reply when I say hello to them.
Also, by this point, it was starting to get hot. I started at 6:20 am, comfortable in long-sleeves for the first few laps. But by the last few miles, it was after nine o'clock, and I felt my face burning in spite of the sunscreen I was wearing. Speaking of which, I am on the hunt for a new sunscreen--the one I have been using causes excessive face-sweating. The heat at nine in the morning in April makes me dread the approaching summer, when El Paso will turn into Mordor.*
Well, I'm off to begin the search for better sunscreen and running fuel! As soon as I feel like moving again, that is.
*I just finished reading all the Lord of the Rings books, and watching all three movies. And I will probably re-watch The Return of the King while icing my legs today. I guess you could say I've become slightly obsessed...