I attempted another long run Saturday after having taken two weeks off. Big mistake. This post covers the painful details of what ended up being an eight hour ordeal in the state park.
Since my successful completion of a 23 mile training run, the next logical distance seemed like completing a marathon (26.2 mi). I initially thought I'd take a few days off from that long run, then try to do a few maintenance runs before my long distance run Saturday. This plan would have worked, but I did not take into account my lack of motivation to get out the last two weeks. The only exercise I got during this hiatus was a little bit of indoor rock climbing here and there.
In the back of my head, I knew that this run would be a little rough and I even thought about reevaluating my goals for the day. One of my running friends even told me I was crazy. Nonetheless, I pushed reason aside as I geared up Friday night with my gels, water bottles, and PB&J sandwich.
Saturday morning, I felt well rested and pretty prepared for my run. I made it to the State Park a little after 6 am and I was able to drive to my cache point where I planned on stashing a few essentials (e.g. water, sunglasses, etc.). I then drove back to the start, helped a few lost cross country meet parents, and got started.
I would say for the first 3 miles or so, I felt pretty good. I made it just fine to my cache and switched a few things out. After a quick Gu I was on the trail again headed to the North Shore. After maybe 3 miles in on the second portion (~6.2 miles overall), I noticed a slight nagging soreness in my left knee. Having just recently posting about pushing through mental barriers and perceived soreness, I thought it would be best to keep going.
By about mile 10, or so, I really thought I should just turn around and call it a day. Unfortunately, I did not make the smarter decision, and I decided to keep going. I made it all the way to the North Shore and my half-marathon turnaround point. With the easy access to the road, I thought it might be good to call a local friend to give me a ride back to my car. After attempting to call just one person and not being able to reach them, I made the conscious decision to start walking back to my car.
At this point in my run, my left knee was in some bad pain, my feet were sore from tight shoelaces, and my right hip was beyond tight. I was falling apart, but also fine at the same time. Mentally I was fine, and I even had enough water and Gu to be thinking straight. This really played a number on my decision-making process because I was downplaying these "nagging" issues.
Fast forward to mile 17 or so and I made it to a covered picnic table for a rest. It was at this point that I knew that while I wasn't in physical danger, I would have to evacuate from the park back to my car. I immediately started creating scenarios for getting out, and weighing out my options. With 30% battery left on my phone, I started trying to call for friends to meet me at an exit point, but it seemed that was still not an option. My phone battery was draining quickly due to a location app I had running for my wife to easily spot me.
With no one around town to meet me, I decided to hike the 5.5 miles back to a trailhead where I knew there would be enough traffic to hitch a ride back to the car. With 20% battery now, I made sure location sharing was off on my phone and texted my wife that I would be quite delayed and needed to put my phone into airplane mode to conserve battery. I quickly texted her that I would "check-in" again at 2 pm (1.5 hrs from then).
Well, my message must have gotten crossed because when I went to check back in at 1:50 pm, I had a slurry of notifications on my phone. My friends were now in the park looking for me, and a couple of park rangers were parked looking for me. While I was in a lot of pain at this point, the embarrassment was the worst. I thought to myself, I have training and experience in this type of thing, how did the situation escalate so quickly?
Fortunately, my friends know my running paths (not a fluke), and one of them ran out to me and quickly assessed me. We created some improvised crutches to distribute the weight and I was out of there within another 45 minutes.
Since Saturday, my mind has been racing about my ability to run in my upcoming 50K race, what I did wrong, and a number of other things. To be honest, I cannot highlight a silver lining quit yet. I'm just trying to take things one step at a time. In fact, I'm rushing the last part of this story so I can get out the door for an easy run to test my knee. I'll know more about my body soon, but in the end I am just grateful to have a wife and friends that care about me and were able to help me through the situation.
Run details if you want to see the brutal day (note, I took off my HR strap near the end; so, I'm sure I burned way more than 3,500 calories that day).