There are a few things that need to get done before next week and I'm eager to check them off the list. One of those things is to get one last long run in before I leave, and to do it without killing myself in the heat. Summer rolled in with a vengeance here in South Texas and we've had no break, only brief afternoon showers that do nothing but raise the humidity a few more notches.
As mentioned in an earlier blog post, a friend and his wife are also coming to Alaska so that he can run in this same half marathon in Anchorage. He emailed me earlier in the week to say that he was going to do an 8-mile run on Thursday, so I told him I'd do my 8-mile run on the same day. Sort of a "virtual" partners in training! So heat or no heat, I was committed to getting this run done, and to doing it on Thursday.
So it was that at 4:45 AM this morning, my alarm went off and I rolled out of bed and pulled on my running clothes. Don't think....don't get distracted....just get dressed and get out the door and get this run started before I change my mind. Shoes and socks, shorts and sleeveless tank, cap and Garmin watch. I covered myself with a good dose of bug spray and fastened my hydration belt around my waist, filling the bottle with Gatorade.
78 degrees and 89% humidity at 5:15 AM as I got this long run started. It was dark and quiet in my neighborhood with only the streetlights to provide small circles of pale light along the road. I was the only person out and about this early. I ran slowly, intent on preserving my energy and not overheating...8 miles is a long run in this humid air! It's like running through molasses.
Three mile loop in my own neighborhood, then I headed out the gates and up the hill and then east on McHard Rd to Cullen. The sky was just starting to lighten. The large retention lake was surprisingly empty of wading birds; I was cheated out of my usual visual distraction along this stretch of the route. Only a lone Egret stood on the southern bank, looking out across the water. I slowed to a fast walk to get a swig of Gatorade from my hydration bottle and searched for other wildlife but could see nothing.
Just as I reached the Cullen intersection and my turnaround point, the sun peeked up over the horizon. A bank of low mist hung over the large field across the street. There wasn't a breath of a breeze and everything seemed like a still life portrait. I made my turnaround and began heading west, taking another pull of Gatorade. Then I picked up the pace and ran back the way I came, back to the entrance to my neighborhood. With the sun rising at my back, the temps were rising noticeably.
At the top of the hill and then a left turn to go down the hill and back through the gates...now just 2 more miles to go. Neighbors were just starting their day, some out walking their dogs, some retrieving their newspapers from the end of their driveways. At this point I just wanted to get this done. It was getting hotter and I had consumed the last of Gatorade.
The last mile was mostly shadeless and, as always, the hardest mile to cover. But there's the turn to my street and then....there was my house. Hooray! It's done! A major accomplishment given this heat and definitely a moment of self-pride for not balking, for getting up, leaving the comfort of my air-conditioned home, and getting this done!
My favorite quote from "The Biggest Loser:"
What have I done today to make myself proud?
I can definitely answer this by saying, "I ran 8.13 miles in 78 degree heat/89% humidity!"
Coming up: How to pack for widely varied weather and get it all on the plane!