Sunday, March 11, 2012

#395: Pennsy Meets The Wall

It was not a particularly glorious finish. Standing glassy-eyed by the side of the road while drivers slowed down to ask if I was all right. 19 miles into a 21 mile run, my longest ever, I had found it. The crash. The bonk. The WALL. The wall is legendary in Marathoner Lore. He's a boogie man who lives out there around mile 20 and asks each runner a simple question: "Can you run through me?" I had never met him before. I was not ready to battle him. Not yet.
Long Slow Run - 40° to start. 19.1 miles/04:24:54 @ 8:34 AM. Green Pegasus. Old Frankfort/Pisgah/Parkers Mill. Started at 3:00 run/0:30 walk, but slowed it down to 1/1 at the end.
Splits 13:07, 12:08, 12:16, 12:42, 12:23, (Mile 1-5 / 01:02:36, avg 12:31) 
12:53, 12:53, 12:37, 13:15, 13:33, (Mile 6-10 / 01:05:11, avg 13:02)
13:29, 13:40, 13,35, 14,18, 13:10, (Mile 11-15 / 01:08:02, avg 13:10)
14:53, 15:51, 17:52, 16:47, (Mile 16 - 19 / 1:05:23, avg 16:20)
Started too fast.Felt strong through the first 15.
I started out at what felt like a conservative pace. My goal this morning was to hit the 11 mile mark feeling strong and fresh. At Pittsburgh, the stretch from 11-16 miles is all uphill. It's a 220 ft climb that starts with a 164 foot ascent from the Monongahela river to Oakland in just 1.2 miles. There's nothing like that around Lexington, not that I know about. All I can do is run enough small hills, and hope I'm ready for the big one.

So, yes, I tried to set a very easy pace for the first 11 miles. And I was successful at that. When I turned the corner onto Pisgah Pike, (which is the most beautiful road in the Bluegrass, by the way,) I felt pretty amazing, and my splits show it. I was slowing down, but still around my target pace of 13:30/mile. By the time I finished mile 16, though, I was pretty well shot. I tried adjusting my walk breaks, eventually setting my timer at 1:00 intervals, but at 19 miles, the gas just ran out. I found a grassy spot and called for Mrs P.

I got a couple of good lessons from this run: about myself, and about The Wall. I learned that it is extremely motivating if you tell everyone you know that you are running a marathon and doing it to raise money for people you know and love. That's a lot of hearts to carry with you. Also a lot of scrutiny if you decide to wimp out. I don't think I could have have done those last four miles without you.

I also learned that The Wall is real and will shut you down in a skinny minute if you are not prepared for him. I thought I did everything right. Drank water. Took nutrition. Stuck to my Run/Walk/Run schedule. Ran Happy. I did my best. But I need to make my best better. 

This was my longest run ever. There will be a few even longer. I need to pay more attention to my pacing in the first part of a long run. I didn't slow down to my target pace until mile 10. I sure could have used some of that energy when I got to mile 17. 

Hey, I have a lot to celebrate. I ran 19 miles, for crying out loud. But 19 isn't 26.2. I did my best, but my best just isn't good enough to take on The Wall yet. 

But soon...


LIVING STRONG AT THE Y, Pennsy's fundraiser to support LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is up and running. Please learn how you can contribute by clicking this link. Click. Give. Share. Together, we can do so much.


  1. GREAT job! I don't know many who can run that many miles!

  2. Just a little random input from me and my 18-miler... I was struggling the last few weeks because I was getting hungry. Based on Erin's research, I figured I might not be eating enough. So I ate whatever I wanted on Friday. It was weird allowing myself to do that, but I wanted to be well stocked. Saturday morning, I felt great. I started drinking gatorade around 10 miles. And I sailed through 18. After struggling with 11 the week before.

    Again, it might not be an issue for you, but food for thought. (hahaha! I crack myself up.)

    1. I think I ate pretty well on Saturday. Lots of vegetables. Not too much junk. I've been trying various gels and chewy things on the road, and yesterday I used PowerBar energy blasts. I'm still a little dubious about the physiology of the things, but they don't seem to do any harm and I did keep going for quite a while. Good advice about the Gatorade. I may try adding a little Sports drink into the mix. (I finally broke down and got one of those goofy Batman utility belts with the two little bottles. Mrs P just shook her head. "Shoes and a tee shirt, huh?"


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