Long Run Bonk

I am currently wrapping up a quick visit to Sacramento to spend time with my family.  I arrived Friday evening and have been eating and drinking non-stop.  My dad grilled steak. My older brother made blue cheese burgers and grilled zucchini that made my taste buds weep with joy.  And my mom knows that I cannot say no to frosting and has tempted me with all manner of baked goodies.

Basically it’s been one big feast of food since I arrived. I can only hope that all my running is helping to balance it out.

Right now I am preparing for a beast of a trail race (more on that later) and I’ve been mostly sticking to trail work. However, while in Sacramento I decided to do a long run on a local bike trail. My dad worked out a plan for me: from the house, down a long non-descript street and around Natomas Lake would make 20 miles and change. It would be perfect for a long Sunday run. As I drank my coffee Sunday morning I realized I’d  failed to pack my hand held water bottle. No worries I thought. I’d just hit up the water fountains on the bike trail. That ought to be fine. Famous last word, right? It did not turn out to be fine. It turned out to be a mini-disaster.

It began like a normal long run.  I felt little slow and creaky at first, but soon my miles splits were dropping into the sub 8-minute range. 7:20, 7:15, 7:30, 7:33. . .  and they stayed pretty steady, hovering between 7:30-7:40. Perfect. Perky. Unflappable. On the bike trail, I hit three water fountains all within a mile of each other. I took small gulps at each as the sun was climbing higher. I even ate some Luna Moons at the third water fountain before crossing to the opposite side of the lake. Things seemed to be going so well. Miles 6- 10 were textbook. But then something curious happened:

Mile 11. No water fountain to be seen

Mile 12. Still no water fountain

Mile 13: Still no water fountain. It’s been six miles since my last sip of water.  Did I mention it was toasty hot?

Mile 14: I’m still feeling O.K. but I’d dearly love a drink just about now.

Sadly, each mile ticked by and none of them produced a magical water fountain. I couldn’t eat because I didn’t have water. My mile splits were steady but my legs were not as responsive. My mouth was sticky. My skin baked.

Finally the lap around the lake complete, I headed toward the house.  It was only three or so miles to the front door, but first I had to trudge up Heart Attack Hill (so named by my dad because it’s steep and there’s a fire station should you require CPR upon reaching the summit). About half way up my legs just kind of puttered out. I was still moving, but I was no longer running. It would be a stretch to say I was jogging. I had simply run out of fuel. I crested Heart Attack Hill and knew that it was only another 1/2 mile to a gas station. More importantly, I was pretty sure that the gas station had a convenience store. Thank the running gods!

Has there ever been a longer mile? I staggered, salt-crusted, red-faced and nasty, into the air conditioned cool of the mini-mart. I grabbed a Fruit Punch Gatorade and plunked $2 on the counter. Would I like my receipt? I feebly shook my head, I was too busy trying to rip the plastic seal off the bottle. Would I like my four pennies back? No, no I would not. I staggered back into the sunlight where I gulped the Gatorade furiously. I ingested half contents in one fell swoop and had to hold back from drinking the rest. No need to risk a side cramp.

I began to shuffle in the direction of my parents house, concentrating only on survival. I feel like absolute crap. I was SO tired. SO thirsty. SO hot! But after a few more minutes things seemed less dire. The electrolytes kicked in. My sweat production picked up and so did my pace. Gatorade, you were awesome!

Lesson Learned: Don’t forget the hand-held water bottle!


About heatherdaniel

I'm a runner, writer, eater and traveler.
This entry was posted in running, trail running and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Long Run Bonk

  1. Ana-Maria says:

    Wow, Heather. this is kind of scary. I am so glad for the gas station and gatorade, and mostly that you are OK. Ana-Maria

  2. Roisin says:

    Ooooo yeah…I need to get better about carrying a water bottle too.

  3. Mike g says:

    I had an experience just like this recently. I did a long 22 mile run near my home and did not account fully for the summer heat and bonked majorly the last few miles. The heat really saps endurance. I’ve read that every degree above 60 is equivalent to a percentage point off your performance because of the effects of heat exhaustion. I think we all forget about what a big difference it makes.

  4. Irish Cream says:

    Damn, girl! That is a long time to go without anything to drink . . . so glad that gas station was there!

  5. Sneezy says:

    Dearest Heather,

    I love your blog even though I can’t run to save my life! So sorry we missed you during our visit to Nor Cal. We had a great time with your family though and lots of other peeps. I featured our mutual love of the ridiculous in the latest post re: our trip on my blog (write-o-holic.blogspot.com). Hope to catch up with you soon.

    BIG HUGS, D.

  6. Matt says:


    I’ve been using the following on longer runs when I can’t carry the agua with me.


    Make finding a water fountain or potable source a lot easier and depending on where you’re running you can refill when you just want to cool it down a tad.

  7. Dadcat says:

    It was tough to see both your running and writing go on the shelf at the same time. I’m proud of your recovery on both fronts.

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