Note: My blog was originally posted on AOL's Journal service. Then they ended the service and I lost a ton of blog postings. This one I was able to recover. It originally ran in 2005 but seemed to still be relevant, especially as summer temperatures are peaking in many places around the country. Hope it is valuable.
Yesterday was the infamous Team in Training SF Peninsula's Woodside run. This is a challenging 12 to 20 mile trail run through Woodside, CA and Edgewood Park. It is easy on the knees and joints but has some tough hills. Weather was perfect but for some reason I had a mid-run bonk.
I'm a month away from the the Maui marathon so needless to say this was a bit concerning to me. I've done runs longer than this and have been training on hills a lot this season with no bonking.
Started the run very strong, maintaining a great pace with good cadence and comfortable stride length. Was able to maintain a comfortable conversation and good breathing pattern. Hit the first hill and hammered it, which felt great and recovered quickly on the backside. Kept this pace for the first 10 miles no problem. Downed a HammerGel at this point and powered on. Then the trouble began.
By mile 12 I was hurting. Maintaining pace became a struggle and found myself really slowing down. By the time we entered Edgewood Park I was in full bonk and even the smallest uphill grades forced me to walk. Ugh!
I was mainlining Accelerade at this point, hitting every water stop for more Gatorade and chose to take the second HammerGel a bit early. This helped. My energy recovered a bit, but I couldn't maintain a steady pace until I got out of the park and back onto Canada Road.
The last water stop was a godsend (can't tell you how fantastic it feels to have a cheering group of volunteers encouraging you on when you are feeling this way. Thanks gang!!
After a bit more Gatorade I pulled myself back onto Canada Road and found I was able to get right back into my usual cadence. Stride length wasn’t there but the energy returned my body fell back into the efficient relaxed state and the last 3 miles were a breeze.
So what happened?
I made two mistakes that caused this bad experience:
1. I did not bring a watch.
2. I ate too late.
I’ve found through my training that I function best when I hydrate and eat regularly. I don’t have a set meter for drinking Accelerade but I do eat an energy gel every 40 minutes, whether I‘m hungry or not. This day, I didn’t take my first energy gel until 74 minutes in and it cost me.
The other thing I learned, though, was that I could recover from a bonk. While I certainly did not recover to the level at which I did the first 10 miles, I was able to regain my cadence and finish efficiently.
Big lesson and better learned on a training run than during my goal event.