Weekend report: Bricks, 18 miles and humidity

Welcome to the ying and yang of my weekend workouts which went from a strong, solid bike-run brick workout on Saturday to a painful long run on Sunday (of which I am still feeling the after affects on Monday). The only thing consistent was the humidity — and my need to plunge into water at the conclusion. Let me walk you through it:

All smiles after a great brick at Evangola State Park

Saturday featured a brick going for quality over quantity. The workout started with a 20K bike ride followed by a 5K run with the goal to run the 5K at a tempo pace. Best buddy Sue joined me and after a solid ride, I took a deep breath and prepared for the run. The humidity was high and my goal was simple — run strong. Forget about time, I told myself. Just run strong. I set my Garmin to only show distance and took off, knowing that weird feeling in my legs would eventually disappear. And it did. I stayed focused, told myself I was strong and kept moving forward. After hitting the stop button on my watch, I checked my time. Turns out I beat the magic 5K tempo number by 18 seconds. Score! On top of that, I ran negative splits — each mile got faster. Double score!

The advantage of our chosen brick location, Evangola State Park, was access to the beach. On this hot, hazy and humid morning, we waded out into the water for a natural type of ice bath. I was slightly incredulous at my run performance, pretty certain that was the best 5K I’ve ever done outside of a race. I could not believe how great the workout felt, hard but invigorating, and how solid my performance was.

And then came Sunday’s long run.

My instructions were to run 30K “as you feel.” Working late the previous night, I decided to start my run late for me, 8 a.m. I planned out an 18-mile route which included the roads around Chestnut Ridge Park. Hills will make me stronger, right? Long runs are about challenging myself, right? Especially on a day with humidity at 85 percent, right?. Yeah. Big mistake. Big. Huge. Five miles in, my run started to hurt. I drank some Gatorade and ate a Honey Stinger Waffle a bit too fast and got a cramp in my right side. I had to walk some. I trotted up the hills, immensely grateful that Mark had driven out on my route to bring me extra hydration several times.

Floating away a bad run.

By Mile 6, it looked as if I had showered in my running gear. By Mile 8 I needed to take some walk breaks. What was going wrong? Didn’t I just have a great workout yesterday? Didn’t I have a rather solid week of training? Why was this so slow and painful? Wait, my run is supposed to be “as I feel” and right now, I feel like walking for a tenth of a mile. Sue me. OK, maybe my new goal for the Wineglass Marathon becomes just to finish. But I kept going. There was more walking than I would have liked in an ideal scenario and I ran out of water/Gatorade at Mile 16. I kept moving forward and kept remembering that this was part of the journey. After all, how fast could I run when my socks were soaking wet from the sweat dripping down my leg? Alas, it was what one would label an “ugly run” but 18 miles were recorded.

Upon arriving at Mark’s house (which served as home base for the run) I promptly downed a tall glass of chocolate milk (which was sitting on the counter for me, thanks Mark!) then bolted to the backyard swimming pool. (And by bolted I mean hobbled slowly.) I eased in the pool and smiled as I sat in the cool water. It started to rain, pretty hard, and yet I stayed in the pool, floating as the rain washed more of the sweat and smell and soreness off my body. Well, not all the pain. My calf muscles were ready to draft articles of secession from my body. A fudge pop and two waffles later helped start to get me back to feeling normal.

Some days, workouts feel amazing and give me confidence. Other days, workouts present a constant challenge and leave me searching for a valuable lesson or bit of wisdom. Saturday gave me confidence. And the wisdom from Sunday? It was that I can gain confidence from a bad workout, too. I’m confident I can keep going even when it feels as if the wheels are falling off. Because most of the time, the wheels really aren’t falling off. I just think they are.

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