I read a quote recently that went something like, “Most things we deem impossible are really just much, much harder than we expected.” That kind of sums up my long run today. I’ve been feeling a little sluggish the last few days, but when I left this morning I was confident I could get through 18 miler on my schedule. The first red flag was that when I got up at 5:45, the thermometer in the back yard already showed 73 degrees and 75% humidity. I’ve been really lucky that so far this summer I’ve managed to avoid long runs on days with the usual New York humidity, but my streak was apparently at an end.
After my smoothie and butter coffee I headed out on my usual route of Brooklyn Bridge Park to Prospect. I kind of spaced out for the BBP section, which was my first mistake. I wasn’t running crazy fast, but I was not focused on keeping my heart rate down, either. My stomach was feeling a little sloshy, so I also didn’t drink much in the first 5-6 miles, which was Mistake #2. When I started up Park Slope’s titular hill to Prospect I finally reined in the pace a bit, but by that point I was almost 7 miles in. The first lap of the park went okay and I actually felt a little better than I had earlier, thanks mostly to the shade on the west side, but I was still sweating buckets. When I came around to the more exposed eastern side I tried to control my heart rate and effort in preparation for the hill at the end of the lap.
Lap 2 steadily degraded as the temperature continued to climb. On a side note, I’ve been toying with the idea of switching to a fat-adapted fueling approach for the marathon, and I made a coconut oil-based gel concoction to try on this run. I had brought two regular gels and two of the coconut oil, figuring I would use some combination depending on how I was feeling. I was getting pretty hungry by the time I got to Prospect, but fearing a mess with the homemade gels, I waited until I got to the trashcans around the south side to eat one. I seemed to tolerate the fat just fine, though it didn’t take the edge off my hunger at all. (Mistake #3.) I should note here that I did a little research after the run, and confirmed that in higher temperatures, the body shifts to burning a higher ratio of glycogen to fat, so this may not have been the best day to start my experiment.
By the end of Lap 2 I was starting to feel very low-blood-sugary, so I had one of the normal gels before starting the last lap. The sugar combined with the bit of shade and downhill section of the park helped enormously, but by the time I rounded the lake at the bottom I was dragging again. I was taking walk breaks on a lot of the uphills by that point, and was just trying to pull it together enough to get the job done. I only had about half a mile left after I left the park, so I had a mercifully short downhill finish. Even with all the walks at the end, I still somehow finished just under the RLRF 9:32 proscribed pace. My watch lost two miles somewhere in Lap 2, but this graph pretty much encapsulates the suck-fest that was this run: