A Bucket of Suck

Pardon the expression, but that's how I described my run on Sunday. 

My plan called for a brick - a back-to-back workout that included three hours on the bike and a solid 50 minute run. I treated the entire workout like a race day. I prepared the day before - hydrating, eating well, sleeping long.  I rode with race-day precision. Erica, Jen and I warmed up for seven miles and then split up for an hour. The goal: to ride at iron pace for two hours, regroup and then ride back to the start for the run. 

I had a solid, strong ride. My cadence was high, my spirits were high. I had a few transcendental moments. I quieted the monkey mind. I thought of games to play and songs to sing in preparation for B2B. When we regrouped, I was proud of my effort.

The success of the ride was reversed in the run. My workout included 2 x 25 minutes of running separated by five minutes of a walk break - to reboot my form. The first 18 minutes were okay. We ran across the drawbridge, towards Johnnie Mercer's pier and halfway to the north end of Wrightsville Beach. I slowed down at mile two

I'll admit the heat was stifling. The heat index was 89 degrees and the humidity was 74%.  I sang Alicia Keys: my skin is on fi-yah! My feet are on fi-yah-ah-ah-ah-ah. My heart was racing more than usual and I swear I could feel the hair growing out of my head. The five minute walk break equaled me standing in the carport of the nearest home and wondering if I should sneak a shower from their hose. 

The next 25 - 30 minutes were torture. I honestly don't think it was physical. I COULD run. I wasn't cramping. Nothing really hurt. I just couldn't get it together. I spiraled mentally and emotionally. I slowed to a walk and watched Jen melt away into the distance. When I walked I got mad: I can't believe this is happening again. This feels just like White Lake/Raleigh 70.3/Beach 2 Battleship Half Iron. I should be able to hold my race pace. When I stopped to get water I got sad. This is pitiful. What am I going to do? I can't believe this. I'm never going to make it.  I admit it: I cried. Right there on the loop at Wrightsville Beach. I tried to figure out who to call to come pick me up - and I didn't even have a phone. I started to play LET'S MAKE A DEAL. If I run for 100 steps, I can take a sip of water. If I run to the fence by the boat ramp, I can walk up the bridge. If I can run to the last stoplight, I can walk to the finish. I eased into a shuffle and finished - knowing it wasn't my best day.

Afterwards, I pouted for an hour. I had a cup of coffee and treated myself to waffles. I texted/whined to my coach. I took a hot shower and a long nap. I sang loud in church that night and allowed myself the last of the pina colada sorbet I made.

Coach and I spent time on Monday - and again yesterday -  troubleshooting. Was it the heat? Nutrition? Hydration? I've also spent some time working on my heart and my head this week. I am interested in the fact that my emotions were much like grief: denial (this shouldn't be happening), isolation (I pulled back from the other runner), anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I've been looking at ways to get out of the bucket - quicker. 

It's been a few days and I'm actually grateful for my bucket of suck. It was hard to shake the feeling that I had on Sunday. But, I know everything works together for good and I'm a firm believer that almost every moment is a teachable moment. 

I realize that there are more dark moments out there. I know that they will likely meet me somewhere on the bike or the run course of B2B. I know that there will be moments in training that I'll want quit. I hope I will remember this bucket of suck. I hope I only carry the memory of it and the lessons I learned from it -- and leave the bucket at one of the aid stations.