I know we’ve had summer temps for well more than the past eight weeks, with the ‘real feel’ above 90-degrees, but summer REALLY is here. Yesterday was my first long run in 100+ real feel temps. It was 86 on the thermometer with 84% humidity. All that equates to a feel of 102 degrees. Yes, 102.
Given the fact that I have pushed myself to sickness by running in the heat in sub-100 temps, I’ve had to re-evaluate my marathon training. Because, let’s face it, I still have to run in July, August & September, which are even hotter than June.
To stay on track, I’m going to be playing around with a few options, the first of which I experimented with yesterday. (I guess technically I tried my first one a few weeks ago when I ran 19 mi on the treadmill at the gym. I would prefer to not do that all the time. I will surely die of boredom if that is my long run every week!)
I started with a 6 mi run at the gym, then transitioned to a 9 mi run outside to end my planned run. In all, it wasn’t too terrible. But yes, the heat once I was outside was a factor. I took a few more walk breaks than usual, and in general, I had difficulty breathing because of the high humidity–I never seemed to be able to settle into a comfortable breathing pattern. I was so thirsty the whole way, in spite of constant hydration. In fact, there were a few times when I drank too much and water was sloshing around in my belly—not a fun feeling by any standard. I kept giving myself small goals to reach before I would take my next walk break or sip of water, trying to focus on the fact that I was still moving forward, even if I was going slowly. Moving forward means I am still working toward my goal, and that is the key to this whole training experience.
I almost cried when I saw my husband waiting for me at our rendezvous point, where he gives me water, I strap on my LED light belt and we both take off together for the final four miles. I’m certainly not fast at this point, and I need more walk breaks than he does, but I know he loves being able to help me meet my goals and be a part of helping me achieve my dream. I really am the most fortunate of women to have him as my life partner. During these moments, he knows when I am really ‘done’ vs when I need that pep talk. He is there to help me get through it, and he saw that I was running on fumes. He checked in to make sure that I wasn’t about to die; rather, it was that I was struggling with the heat. So he started talking to me about the Orioles game, an upcoming dinner he needed me to attend this week and more. These distractions really help keep me from thinking too much about how sore I am, how tired I am and how much I want to stop. And when he runs ahead at the end to get the car cooled down and be ready for me to hop in so I don’t get eaten alive by the mosquitos…yes, all of this helps me keep going even when the heat is telling me I should stop.
But I did it, and while it wasn’t pretty, this is my current best idea to get the long training runs in so I am as prepared as possible for October 25th.
I realize I won’t be back to that fabulous 17 mi run I had in early March, when I essentially ran the whole way at a 9:17 pace, and only one mile was a 10-min mile (I must have walked a short bit to eat some Gu) until it is probably February or March again. I guess I’ll just have to make peace with the 11+ mi miles I am cranking out in the summer months and hope that doing my marathons in much cooler temps will allow that faster me to emerge and rock the course in a way that I know I CAN do.