I turned 40 on Saturday. Some people think milestone birthdays like this are bad. Not me. I'm in better shape than I was at 30 and 35, so I say "Welcome 40, bring on 45!" In an attempt to drive this positive thinking home, I ventured out for a 40-mile birthday run on Friday.
I drove about an hour from my home to Draper, VA to run on the New River Trail. The NRT is a rails-to-trails path that runs through the New River Valley for 57 miles, give or take a few. It is a mostly flat, scenic run on a forgiving surface. I love to go there for long, fast training runs.
I filled my 64-oz pack with nuun and took off. I knew very quickly that it was going to be a warm day on the trail. After a few miles, I decided to return to the car, change into lighter (faster) shoes, and drop the pack in favor of a handheld bottle.
With just over 10 miles under my belt, I headed back down the trail, bottle in hand. As the miles started to build, I knew 40-miles was asking too much. I was experiencing a bit of soreness from the punishing Promise Land 50k just 5 recovery days prior. And my mind was just not in it. To make sure I got at least 50k I decided to run out 10 miles from the car, forcing myself to come back 10 miles for a total of 31 on the day. At the time I made this decision, I was drinking conservatively, and although I knew it would be close, I thought I'd have just enough water.
Now that I had decided to cut the run short, I picked up my pace. I was running 7:45-pace down the trail, loving every minute of it. Visions of a 50k PR were dancing in my head as I drank to keep my body fueled. But I was about to get into trouble. By the time I got out 10 miles my bottle was almost dry and I was fatigued from the continuous running. I turned around and began the 10-mile slog back to the car. Within a mile or so I was out of water and bonking fast. Mentally I was okay. But physically, my body was beginning to shut down.
Water water everywhere, not a drop to drink. That was the challenge for the next hour plus as I tried to keep up my pace along the beautiful yet unclean New River. Drinking out of the river was not an option. I did dunk my head a couple times, but resisted the strong urge to gulp it in.
Moderate running turned to slow running turned to walking. I asked myself, "what would Survivorman do?" Slow down to conserve energy and keep body temperature under control. That's what I did. That, plus another dunk in the river (now the upper neck of Claytor Lake), and before I knew it, I was at the car.
I quickly chugged 12-20 ounces from the tepid hydration pack. Then after eating some fruit, I crossed the street and bought some cold water and a Pepsi from the local store. Those were gone in minutes. On the way home I stopped to refuel at ye olde local "Omelette Shoppe" where I chased down two eggs, sausage gravy and a biscuit with 2 glasses of water and 2 cups of coffee (Noakes recommends drinking coffee or beer after a long run to stimulate the kidneys -- beer was out of the question with several driving miles yet to go). When I got home I weighed myself, and I was still 3lbs down from where I started the day. It took me a couple more hours to get my plumbing back to normal, but luckily I suffered no ill effects.
Lesson learned -- Current thinking is that it's better to drink too little than too much, but there is a difference between "drinking to thirst" and "going thirsty for 2 hours." I made an unwise decision to run further and faster than my hydration plan allowed. And I paid for it.
Saturday was a recovery day (very lovely birthday hike with my family), Sunday was a great 12-mile trail run with one of my best running buddies. I was a bit tired for the 12-miler, but nothing unusual for 2 days after a hard 50k run.
On a positive note (I guess), I've just about been talked into running the Old Dominion 100 for the first time. More on that later.