To a certain extent, I'm glad I experienced the wall, it's always better this happens during training rather than racing and it's always important to get reminded it exists. But, geez, it's still painful. I'm also glad that I managed to run another 10 miles after hitting the wall, that's good mental strength training.
What happened? The typical chain of events leading to the running wall
- First, and more importantly, I didn't have much time this morning so went out early, without taking a breakfast.
- Traveling and having an all-day offsite on Saturday, I had even run 14 miles the night before and, with the super dry air here, was probably already dehydrated when I started running this morning
- I wanted to go back to Red Rock Canyon but didn't have time to put a 36-mile run this morning before a business lunch so decided to hop on bus to avoid having to run through the city (more details below about this option). As there was 30 minutes between each buses this Sunday morning, I ran the first two miles pretty fast not to miss the one I was shooting for. Too fast of a start, a typical mistake leading to hitting the wall in marathons...
- I left with one bottle of water, but no electrolytes. By the time I reached the park entrance, I had logged almost 8 miles, mostly uphill. There wasn't water at the entrance so I kept going on the road for another mile before turning back, with now 19 miles to run to get back to the hotel and a temperature in the low 90F. Fortunately, I found a drinking fountain at the West Technical & Career Academy. I was seriously dehydrated and had only run 13.5 miles, barely half way...
- Pressed by the time, and taking advantage of the slight decrease of elevation (from 3,700 feet at the park down to 2,100 in down town Vegas) I pushed the pace although my body was asking for the opposite... From 7:30 min/mile, my average pace was now down to 7:15 by the time I reached the long and boring Sahara Boulevard.
- I stopped at a gas station to get an ice cream (whopping 300 calories at once!) and a Wendy's to refill my bottle. After hitting the wall around mile 20, I "cruised" at 7:45 min/mile pace for the last 7.5 miles, for an average pace of 7:25 at the end. I certainly get better at running through such walls, yet, I kept drinking all afternoon and my lips are still cracked and burning this evening...
- Without Gu2O not even salt tablets (S!Caps), no wonder my electrolytes got completely out of balance.
the schedule only shows 7 stops from the Strip, the bus probably stopped at least 30 times on the way (not that URL will probably not live for too long. Incidentally, that gave me the opportunity to see the sad part of Vegas, all those folks who either have lost everything gambling or working for very low wages in this "industry." That being said, the bus was brand new and very clean. And, despite it took the bus 40 minutes to cover 11 miles, I would still recommend this way in order to allow you to actually run in the canyon. $2 a ride, I can't think of how much it would cost with a cab when you see the speed the taxi counter runs for the short ride between the airport and the hotel. The other option is to rent a car. Alternatively, there are organized tours of the canyon, such as this one, but no sure if they would let you do a long run on your own...
the Vegas map of its modern bus system.
Overall, not a very nice run, still a lot of asphalt or cement, yet quite great views of the nearby mountains, so dry but so colorful... If you can, go straight to the Red Rock Canyon park then do some trail running over there.
Back to the title, here is a great article on the (running) wall, from Sara Latta in Marathon and Beyond. Back to the basics... although hopefully not this Saturday at Miwok...! ;-)
PS: the pictures are from our group run last year, not today!