12 miles, 4 pounds and a Peanut Butter Milkshake

See this nice downhill?  This is Inspiration Point over Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe.  I will be running this. It is the last 6 miles of 39.3. The only problem is I have to run UP the mountain behind it first.  I should probably train for that.

It is perfectly acceptable to pick up a peanut butter milkshake at mile 10.  No really, it is.  But more on that in a minute.

Sunday I set out for 12-13 very urban, very boring miles in oppressive mid morning heat at my oh so sluggish Trifecta target race pace of 14:30.

Doesn’t that sound like a really fun day?  It actually was.  Sunday’s run was just as much a test of my mental endurance as my heat tolerance-both of which are key components to my ability to complete the Trifecta without dying.

You see, while I am physically more than capable of completing 39.3 miles in three days, my mental capability is perhaps a little more shaky, particularly if it is hot out.  I mean, I am really quite likely to launch myself into Lake Tahoe directly from Inspiration Point (several hundred feet ABOVE the lake) instead of waiting to run through finish line and directly into the water at Pope Beach if the temperature is much about 75 degrees.  Plus, I hate that 14:30 pace with a passion.  I understand the reasoning behind slowing down over longer distances but I have a hard time coping with 12:30 miles on my short runs.  I don’t want to run half marathons over 3 hours.  I have to remind myself often that this is all about getting to those 50Ks.  (And I’ll be honest, my pace is sneakily starting to pick up as I get used to running longer distances…)  Regardless, it puts a huge strain on my mental well being to see that pace.

Fortunately, Tahoe Hot and Reno Hot are two very different things.  Still, with the temps predicted in the high 90’s this weekend it seemed like a good time to push myself a bit.  I intentionally started out nearly three hours later than I normally would for a long run.

The great news is that other than zoning out and missing one of my turns (and therefore missing 0.75 miles of my route), I did it:  12 miles.  14:22 pace.  1,200 calories burned.   960 calories consumed. In 97 degree weather.

Let me break it down for you:

I started out with a tasty breakfast of Greek yogurt, honey and granola.

And then I laced up my shoes, checked my route one more time and took off out the front door.

Mile 1:  This is always my least favorite mile of any run, mostly because it takes me about 3 miles to actually warm up these days.  Still, it was a nice even pace and right on target for my first 4 miles.

Mile 2:  I got a nice break at the world’s longest stoplight.  I took off across the huge intersection feeling really strong.  I continued on through a quiet residential neighborhood, taking the opportunity to dash through sprinklers whenever possible.  Still on target!

Mile 3:  I was trying a new route where I promptly learned I could not access the jogging path without darting through heavy traffic only to have to do a super hero type leap across a drainage ditch onto the concrete several feet below.  Instead I altered the route to follow a quiet street parallel to the major road.  Despite this, I was still on target.

Mile 4:  The side street actually worked out better than anticipated and dropped me right at the desired 7-11 for a water refill and pit stop.  Water bottle filled and bladder emptied, I set out across another major intersection.  I lost a little time here but finished the first four miles right on target at 12:45.

Mile 5:  I practiced running with a water bottle in my hand.  It isn’t nearly as awkward as I remember it.  Then again, it was 89 degrees out and climbing I really wanted that water!  The smell of the fresh asphalt sealant was more than a little overwhelming.  It was an absolutely uneventful mile, however.

Miles 6 and 7:  I hit my old stomping ground at the Marina.  It was an easy jog.  I lost a little time trying to pass folks walking leisurely 6 wide on the path, but nothing major.  I refilled my water at the snack shack and pondered cotton candy.  Assured that this was really NOT what I needed, I continued on.  I finished slightly ahead of my target for mile 5-7.

Mile 8:  This is about where my brain shut down.  This isn’t all that unusual for me.  Somewhere around mile 8 or 9 of any long run I lose it.  I did this speed walk for a few tens of a mile, jog for a tenth of a mile, shuffle a few steps, ponder quitting, realize I can’t quit (because it is 4 miles home no matter what I do), repeat.  I eventually threw myself down in the grass at a park under the guise of stretching.  Really, I sprawled out and stared at tree leaves.  Pretty tree leaves!  I knew this mile would be tough and I had set a target of 14:30.  I missed it with a 15:56.

I actually took this photo while laying on my back in the cool grass…

Mile 9:  Feeling refreshed, my brain promptly re-entered my body and I set out at a steady run.  The temperature rapidly climbed to 95.  I plodded ran in a very straight line, missing my turn and therefore unintentionally cutting .75 miles off my run (I would discover this later when looking at my Garmin route).

Mile 10:  It’s a damned good thing there is an old fashioned drive in hamburger joint with the most amazing milk shakes in town on the route.  I was hot (now 97 degrees), hungry (failed to eat properly the day before) and tired (no comments needed).  I grabbed quite possibly the best peanut butter milkshake ever and proceeded to consume it while trotting through this mile.  That’s right:  I ran with a milkshake.  Don’t judge me.  It was DELICIOUS!  And I was still on target for the mile.

Can we make peanut butter milkshakes mandatory at mile 10 of every race? Please and thank you!

Mile 11:  I finished up the milkshake and realized I was much closer to the finish line than I wanted to be but on the other hand I was starting to consider leaping into decorative ponds in people’s front yards so I decided to just pack it in.  This mile felt so slow.  So very, very slow.  It seemed to stretch on for miles on end.  I wasn’t exactly tired.  My legs certainly felt just fine.  Mentally, I was just slowing down.  And then it was done.

I walked through the front door, grunted at the boy, stripped clothing off all the way down the hallway, leapt into a cold shower and became human again before drinking there bottles of water and promptly curling up on the couch for a blissful two hour nap.

I usually don’t nap after runs because I am overflowing with energy and the munchies.  The heat took it out of me.  I woke up, however, feeling refreshed and much to my delight, not the least bit sore or stiff.  Even better, I wasn’t ready to take down a wildebeest.  Apparently that peanut butter milkshake was a pretty decent recovery 960 calorie snack.

I did a little shopping, played with dogs, processed some photos then wrapped  up my day by watching bad bridal shows and the Olympics and whipping up some delicious baked chickpea eggrolls (again from Gazing In), served with a side of avocado.   My post run activities were just as important as the run itself because simply put, it took me only two hours to recover from running distance in the heat.

This morning, I woke up ready to rock and roll.  I had only the slightest (as in barely noticeable) twinge in my right quad after walking around on concrete in heels for three hours.  That is the extent of it.  A year ago, I never would have imagined that I would feel so good the day after a long grueling run but I really do feel great.  Apparently training does actually pay off.

It also is paying off on the scale.  I was diligent in feeding the Trifecta last week.  As a result, I am also four pounds down.   And that is after the 960 calorie peanut butter milk shake.