Friday, June 29, 2012

Beat the Heat

Check out the forecast for Richmond over the next three days:


Don't you guys just love summer?

It's no secret that I really don't love summer. In fact, I pretty much detest it. My hate of summer goes back to long before I ever became a runner, but now that the heat impacts my run routine I loathe these months even more.

Of course now that the heat is upon us, it seems like I have read 4583520 blog posts, "tips", and magazine articles about how to deal with or work around the summer heat and your run schedule. The thing is, I don't really like any of their suggestions, the most-oftened mentioned one being to run very early in the morning or late at night. I hate early mornings almost  as much as I hate summer, so this just doesn't jive with me. Other common suggestions are running a shaded route (sorry, but it's still too hot even in the shade), wearing as little clothing as possible (again, even if I ran naked - not that I ever would - I'd still be too hot), and slowing your pace (I'm to world's worst pacer).

In spite of all of this whining, I have made the realization that I am going to have to start to learn to run outside when it is more than 70 degrees. If I'm going to train for the marathon and continue to become a "real" runner, I'm going to have to suck it up and learn how to sweat it out. Therefore, I have made an effort this year to push myself when it comes to hitting the pavement even when it's warm out. One of the hottest runs I ever did was with the Run Like a Girl group back in April, when the mercury was hitting 87 and it was muggy as all get out.

So, when Greg, Siri, and I met up in Richmond on Wednesday night to tackle a 5 mile route in the dry 85 degree heat, I wasn't too worried or too whiny. I even felt pretty well prepared, given that I had remembered to bring along my hand held Camelbak to sip from during the run and was wearing my most lightweight top.

Things started out nicely. Yes, it was hot. Yes, I was sweating. But thankfully Richmond's city streets are lined with big old trees and tall houses, so we were afforded some shade.  Our pace hovered between 8:30 and 9:00 for the first 3 miles. And then I started to get a stomach cramp that soon became an all out "Oh God I'm going to puke if I don't stop running" feeling pretty quickly. At first I thought it might have been the giant piece of cake that I had decided to consume that afternoon and that it would pass. But the cramping did not go away.

Around mile 3.5 I stopped to guzzle water and just stand still for a minute. I waved Greg and Siri on, telling them I'd be fine. After the brief break I started out again, allowing myself to go no faster than a 10:30 pace. I probably couldn't have gone faster if I wanted to. For once I was glad when I got stuck at red lights waiting for traffic. I stopped and parked myself on many a step and front stoop, waiting for the lights to change. Sometimes I even waited through a cycle of the light.

Finally, at about mile 4.5, I decided it just wasn't worth the pain to keep trying to run. The last thing I wanted to do was end up getting sick over a stupid half a mile, so I walked for a few blocks. About 3 blocks from the start/finish of our route, I saw Greg doubling back to check on me and we ended up jogging back to the start/finish. I refilled my water bottle from a spiget on the wall (God only knows what quality that water was) and sat, defeated and feeling horrible, on the steps of the church that had served as our gathering point.

When I had recovered to the point that I felt like driving was safe, I headed home. My stomach was in knots for the rest of the night.

The forecast for Thursday was 93 degrees... and my schedule called for a 5 miler. After Wednesday's debacle, I was not about to even attempt to run outside again so I took the easy wait and headed to the nice, air conditioned safety of the treadmill at the Y. I wasn't sure what to expect from this run - I had truly felt the worst I ever  had during the last mile on Wednesday night and figured that Thursday's outing would likely not be a good one.

Imagine my surprise when I cranked out 6.25 miles with absolutely no problem. In fact, I could have kept going but felt that I should probably get home to Husband, who was making dinner. I felt extremely relieved to know that I could attribute the complete disaster of Wednesday to the heat and not to a sudden loss of running mojo.

So the morals of this entry are:
1. Eating a giant piece of cake before attempting to run 5 miles at an 8:30 pace in 85 degree weather is not such a good idea.

2. The next time I attempt to run in 85 degree weather, I need to slow down.

3. If all else fails, embrace the whiny wuss you know you are and enjoy a temperature controlled jaunt on the good old treadmill.

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