Journal entry 082610: In the long run

Friday morning I ran 20 miles. In the old days I saved my long runs for Saturday morning, but lately I’ve been on childcare duty Saturday mornings so I’ve pushed them to Friday. I got up with Cyndi at 5:00 AM, and left around 5:30. Cyndi had to get up to teach Body Pump at Gold’s Gym, making it easier for me get my body out of bed. I needed to get started early so I could finish before the temperature hit 80*F.

I had been laying awake in bed for about thirty minutes going over my gear list for the run. I’ve been running now for over 32 years, more than 35,000 miles, and I have a pretty good handle on what I need to carry with me on a long run. It isn’t much: (a) Preemptive band-aids, moleskin, and Advil; (b) Interval timer; (c) Garmin 405 GPS watch; (d) iPod; (e) Camelback; (f) Sunglasses; (g) Handheld digital recorder; (h) Money; (i) ID; and (k) Shorts, shirt, socks, shoes. Anything else has to earn its way into my kit.

This time I didn’t take any energy gel blocks or GU or electrolyte chews or any of that. I did take some Jolly Ranchers, but I ended up eating those only out of obligation since I had them. I couldn’t tell if they helped in any way. So far, in my experiment of one, energy and electrolyte supplements haven’t made a noticeable difference nor have they been worth the effort. Maybe it’s because I am moving so slow? But I am open to being proved wrong about the subject, I will keep reading the articles in running magazines. I need all the help I can get.

I do, however, enjoy wearing my new Garmin 405 GPS watch on long runs. It is great fun after the run charting my route and studying the data and printing a map. My actual distance from Friday was 20.86 – how would I have known that without my cool watch? I also carry a clip-on interval timer that I bought from Jeff Galloway so I can do my run-walks. It helps keep me on pace, on task, and I don’t have to look at my watch until the run is completely over.

There is a potential vulnerability with carrying a GPS watch, however. A few weeks ago during a 10-miler, about 8.5 miles in, as I was turning north under the overpass at Loop 250 to head home, I looked at my GPS watch and it was completely blank. The battery had died. I felt empty since I had been following that watch all morning. I felt erased, blank, and non-existent. Well, only briefly, then I ran on home.

The toughest part of my run is the first mile. My legs are stiff, my shins are sore, and none of me wants to move. But I’ve learned if I keep going all of those pains will fade and I will be OK. It is sort of like hiking the Guadalupe Peak trail; if you get past the first bunch of switchbacks it actually becomes fun.

The only time I was really tempted to quit and turn around and walk back home was about 8 miles into the run when I was passing First Baptist Church. I went inside to refill my Camelback, being careful not to disturb the Friday morning men’s prayer meeting, and it took all my powers of persuasion to convince myself to keep going. But after I turned west toward the TXU hike-and-bike trail, I felt better. After that, I just kept going. I didn’t hurry or push the pace. My goal for the long run was to keep moving on my feet and not worry about pace or time.

At the 7-11 at Thomason and Loop 250 I bought a Gatorade G2, drank some and poured most of it into my Camelback to mix with my remaining water. It was a nice treat. I had $20 with me with the intention of doing exactly that, which means I drank from my Camelback more liberally than usual knowing I would refill it. Unlike previous long runs I never worried about running dry.

Afterwards, after a shower and after lying on the floor of my closet to recover, I enjoyed my traditional post-run vanilla milkshake. What a great reward. I savored it down to the last slurp because I’d earned it.

My friend and fellow marathon-runner, Chad, said that the secret doesn’t seem to be the training pace but rather how soon you can recover. I was pleased after this long run. By Monday, three days later, I was able to run 5 miles and I felt fine. That was encouraging.

My bum left knee felt fine and my right foot with goofy toes was fine and never bothered me at all. I haven’t had any problems with blisters on my toes since I started wearing Injinji socks. I may lose a toenail or two, but I am used to that.

So you may be wondering why I bother to write all this stuff down? I do it partly because running is the root of my writing. The first pieces I wrote as an adult were for a running club newsletter.

But I also write it down so you can join me on this journey. I am trying to live up to Habakkuk 2:2, Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.” I hope you have stories of your own, and I hope you’ll share them with me.


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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