I always think I learn more from my mistakes than from the things I do right, so here is an analysis of what went wrong for my run today. Hopefully I'll take something away from this and use it in the future. Every training session seems to have at least one disasterous run, and hopefully this will be the one for this marathon.
To summarize the cumulative problems for this run I'll use the word "attitude". I just did not have the right attitude going into this run, and I suffered the results. My past two 18 mile runs have been incredibly successful, I have felt strong and have been able to incorporate some tempo miles during the run. Since the goal for the 20 miles today was just to finish at a good long run pace, I really was not taking it seriously. In retrospect my fueling last night was nowhere near what it should have been with protein and fats taking the lions share of the plate. Also, yesterday marked a pretty significant variation from my usual routine where I did a strength training session instead of an easy run. I didn't think that it would affect me that much, but I think it did as I didn't really have the "pep" that I usually have. Unfortunately without the proper preparation the attitude could not really get any better over the course of the run, especially with the intestinal issues I experienced. I have had several "uncomfortable" runs over the years, but I have fortunately never had to seek out a port-a-potty until today. Unpleasant to say the least.
Did anything go right today? Yes, I can say that it did. Once I realized that the run was going to be a disaster I completely shifted my goals for the workout. In the end I decided that despite all the setbacks I could still experience a good training run by merely seeking to finish the 20 miles regardless of how long it took. There is some benefit to being out running for 3 hours (approximately the time I hope to finish the marathon in) even if I am not running the whole time. In the end I finished the run with an average pace that was just a little slower than I was hoping for, so even though it was unpleasant I was still moving fairly quickly. My fueling on the run was pretty good as well as I took my gel early enough that I was not totally run down before it kicked in. I think I will try to be doing that more on future runs as well.
Now it's time to put this run behind me and look to the next run. A well deserved beer tonight will do the soul some good.