Breaking out of a slump (I hope)

It’s weird to think that even though I’m coming off my first 30-mile week* in God knows how long, there wasn’t a run I felt good about until yesterday – kind of.

First the heat and humidity derailed last week’s first 10-miler of the season, which my sister and I completed but at such a pitiful pace we never bothered to note (or admit) the time.

Two days later, caught up in a low-carb diet kick, I tried a 7-miler to see if it’s true what they say about teaching your body to burn fat rather than carbs. The whole way out I was just rolling along, jamming on the idea of running forever on my seemingly limitless fat reserves. But then coming back the heat and humidity started getting to me and I kept thinking about about that Capri Sun lemonade pouch I’d stashed in a ditch by the woods and whether or not I wanted to waste 14 carbs on it (despite the fact that it was a mere 50 calories).

Well, you can imagine how that went. The same person who can never leave food on her plate was not about to leave a Capri Sun pouch unmolested in the ditch. I walked about half a mile before the “reduced sugars” in that kids drink worked its magic and I was able to jog it in home from there.

On Thursday Traci and I were scheduled for 6 miles of hills. This time it was cooler and less humid, perfect weather conditions, really, yet I completely bonked about 4½ miles in. One minute I was blathering away and the next thing I knew my voice just faded out. This low-carb thing was clearly not working. I slowed way down and then had to walk some of the last mile.

On Friday I ate a peanut butter sandwich with a few raspberries on it before our 4-mile 30-20-10 workout and I made it through that just fine – except for the fact that I always wonder, when my sister is the timekeeper, whether she’s secretly making us do more than what the clock says just to burn more calories.

On Sunday our plan for the 10-miler was to run 3 miles to the state park gatehouse, then keep going at a 3:1 run/walk ratio just to make sure we got in the distance and a baseline time to beat for next time.

Colleen had gone ahead on her bike, and we intersected as she was coming back out of the park in a case of perfect timing, considering that she had my park pass. We pawed through her Camelback for our drinks before she headed back toward town and we continued on into the park.

We were feeling pretty good, just relaxing into a long run after so many runs lately where we’re constantly trying to mix things up with the watch. The 3:1 intervals were different in that we weren’t increasing pace, just jogging along with an occasional recovery break, so we weren’t in that “how much longer til this set is done” mindset.

Still, after a while it got to be tedious and even kind of nerve-wracking trying to make sure we heard the beep on Ben’s GPS watch. In the din of late-summer insect chatter and our own yakking, I basically never heard it at all and Traci only heard it intermittently.

On the way back Traci got something in her eye that interfered with her contact lens, and so after having missed the beep on several intervals and running straight through for several minutes, we walked a couple of minutes just to let her get her eye straightened out.

We were still feeling decent, other than Traci’s eye, but heading back toward the gatehouse we started thinking how good those drinks tasted. We wished we would’ve stashed our bottles at the gatehouse, but we hadn’t thought about it. Traci called up Colleen, who was heading into Hardee’s for a cool post-ride drink of her own and wasn’t in the mood to pedal back to us.  Traci, being her aunt instead of her mom, neither begged nor ordered her to. “That’s ok,” she said in a falsely cheerful tone of voice.

We were both getting sick of the watch. In some ways it seemed like it would almost be a relief to give up those 1-minute walk breaks in exchange for not using up the mental energy to fret over whether or not we were hearing the alarm. Just jogging it in from here made sense except for one thing: My busted confidence.

We’re just two weeks out from what was supposed to have been one of my goal races for the year, and I’m clearly not in half-marathon shape. This is the first week where we’ve put in much distance and I’d consistently fizzled on nearly every run. Technically, as far as races go, I’m one for one, having won my age group at the Bison Bash. But considering there were maybe only 40 people in the whole race, it wasn’t much of an accomplishment.

It seems laughable now to think about competing for an age-group title in the Parlor City Trot Half Marathon on Labor Day weekend. I’m not sure I could finish the darn thing without some strategic walk breaks.

Heck, I wasn’t even sure I could close out the last couple of miles of this 10-miler without another walk break.

But just then Colleen showed up with those drinks we’d all but given up on. Thus refreshed, we trotted to the finish line.

*Technically this post describes 40 miles of running, but yesterday’s 10 is the start of a new running week.


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