Having planned a long run for a Tuesday, everything leading up to it was not like usual. For starters, I had to run when I was able to, not when I wanted so that meant starting the run after 8 a.m. As it was supposed to have been warm, starting at around 5 a.m. and finishing sometime after 8 would have been ideal but I couldn't do that.
So I went about my routine Tuesday morning, went about business as usual. I ate a big breakfast, my usual pre-long run fare of a bagel and something else. This time instead of a Clif bar I opted for oatmeal. Got dressed in a sleeveless and a light pair of shorts, got my GU and Gatorade together. I was ready.
More importantly, my legs were ready too. I can feel my legs sometimes kind of itching to run, itching to be stretched. I certainly felt this way on Tuesday and I took that as a good sign. Last week I'd run 10 miles and that was such a chore. I did not want to repeat that.
When I started off on my run, it was already sunny. It wasn't quite warm but it was sunny and it was only a matter of time before the heat started to become a factor. I was at my favorite trail, the Santa Ana River Trail behind Mt Rubidoux, and had intended on running a simple out-and-back towards San Bernardino. Instead, decided to run it in the opposite direction. I'd intended on running 2-3 miles and then turning around and possibly finishing up near Fairmount Park, where there's a lot of shade.
I stretched out the distance, instead of going 2-3 miles out, I figured I'd try for five. And the I decided on six. And then somehow I talked myself into more and figured 'Why not run all 10 miles now and then just go back?' Sometimes, I play these types of mind games when I'm out on a solo long run or if a run is somehow challenging. It certainly kept me going, kept my mind engaged.
Unfortunately the path was not accommodating. While the Santa Ana River Trail continued further, I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere and my portion ended in a parking lot when I was nine miles in. I decided to turn back there and just head straight back. I could have made up the distance there so I would be done when I got to where I started but there was one thing that I needed from my truck.
I had my fuel belt and Gatorade but I knew I'd run out sooner rather than later. With the sun beating down on me, I was parched at times. I was at Mile 12 and already down to my last couple of sips of Gatorade. I realized that I'd erred. I should have gone out six, gotten back to my truck at 12 and gotten more water at that point.
Nothing I could do about it. I trudged forward. Just before Mile 16 I saw a park. Earlier, sprinklers had been on. Had they been on then, I would have gladly run through them. But the water I saw this time was even more refreshing. I saw a water fountain. I walked slowly up to it and prayed that it worked. I pushed a button and water came shooting out. Oh joy! I filled up my bottles, drank and drank and drank some water, poured some on my head and on my hat and felt refreshed.
By Mile 17 the water was all gone. The temperatures were in the mid-80s by this point although it felt warmer. While I was running, I couldn't feel it too bad because it felt breezy but when I stopped I certainly felt the heat. Plus, while I wasn't feeling the heat when running, it was wearing me down and I took a beating from it nevertheless. My arms glistened in sweat, my clothes were covered in it, my hat was dripping with it and I knew I'd lost a lot of fluids out on the course.
At Mile 18 I got back to my truck. I took off my fuel belt, grabbed a water bottle and took off. I didn't think that I'd be tempted to stop but I didn't want to linger around too long. I went out for Mile 19 in the direction I'd intended on running earlier. I was feeling okay still. Given that my last solo 20-mile run was such a mess, I was surprised how well I was holding up mentally. I was engaged still and not a blubbering mess.
Finally I was on my last mile. Every step seemed to take forever. It was probably the anticipation of seeing my truck once more, of being able to turn off my Garmin, of being able to take off my phone holder and my hate and of just being able to stop running.
I'd done well to not glance down at my Garmin every few seconds earlier but this time I couldn't help it.
19.70, 19.83, 19.88, 19.90, 19.93, 19.96...
It's as if I didn't want to run one step past 20 miles...
Then the magic number flashed on the Garmin - 20.00. I hit stop and I was done. I threw my arms up in the air, celebrated my feat and went in search of more water.