Due to sheer exhaustion from my Ocean City trip last weekend, as well as a few social engagements (dinner with Ms. Escape at Vivace Ristorante on Friday and with Ms. Lin at Marnee Thai on Saturday), I had to push my long run one day out to Sunday this week.
Having run close to 13 miles last weekend on concrete in the East Coast heat and humidity, my body felt surprisingly strong on the 15-mile run at the Sawyer Camp Trail back at home. Although the day was hot (mid-80s, and I didn’t get to the trail until close to 10 a.m.), a gentle breeze swept in for a cooling effect, the air was dry as usual, and the trail provided a soft landing for my feet. I thought I had done everything right – ate a large bagel with natural peanut butter first thing in the morning, a packet of GU energy gel (with caffeine) at the beginning of the run and then every 45-50 minutes thereafter, carried two 10-oz. bottles of water on my Nathan 2-bottle hydration belt, and even planted a water bottle for my return trip (the trail is only 6 miles long, so I can leave water on the way out for my return trip fairly easily).
The gentle hills that were such a struggle a mere two weeks ago were conquered without too much pain. I was feeling great and actually thought I could maintain a sub-13-minute pace, which has been the baseline for my long runs (12:xx pace was considered good, 13:xx pace was considered on target, compared to 11- or 12-minutes for my shorter runs). As I approached the mile 10 marker, I finished the last few drops of water in my small bottles. Then I looked under the tree for my favorite pink water bottle for another 24 ounces for fresh, cold water (I had even filled half the bottle with ice cubes so it would stay cool). For some reason, it was not there! Initially, I was perplexed – did I leave it under a different tree? After a minute or two of frantic, but ultimately futile, searching, it finally dawned on me.
SOMEONE STOLE MY WATER BOTTLE!!!
It was in fact an unusually hot day, with the sun beating down on runners, joggers and walkers alike. I had finished all my water ahead of schedule, but thought nothing of it since I had prepared replenishment. I probably experienced the typical progression of emotions when one becomes a victim of theft – first, confusion, then disbelief, followed by anger, then finally acceptance. I guess I’ve been very lucky and can’t remember the last time something was stolen from me. I mean, who steals a water bottle?! It really calls into question my faith in human nature! Feeling rather dejected and by this point severely dehydrated, I trudged through the remaining 5 miles, walking the final stretch to avoid any type of heat exhaustion.
The silver lining is that wo good things did come out of this. First of all, after ranting about this incident on the Marine Corps Marathon First-Timer page on Facebook, I experienced first hand the incredible support of the community. Not only did more than 15 people offer their sympathies within 24 hours, but many shared their own experiences and words of encouragement. Secondly, with the endorsement of fellow runners on this board, I finally decided to buy the 4-bottle hydration belt (so I can carry all the water on my person). I had been contemplating this purchase this for a while, but thought it would be somewhat wasteful since I already have the 2-bottle version. However, this incident really solidified my decision.
In the end, every bad run is a great learning experience. Being forced to run 5 miles without water will just make my next properly hydrated run that much easier. Looking forward to that!