Friday, August 9, 2013

If The Heat Doesn't Kill Me...

The hardest part about committing to running half marathons in all 50 states is the year-round training.  There are some races that - unbelievably to this Texas gal - are held in August!  If I want to participate in any of those, it means continuing my training through the dog-days of summer in the heat and humidity of south Texas.

Sane folks stay inside in their air-conditioned homes and sip coffee while reading the morning paper.  Insane folks - like me, for instance - set the alarm for o'dark thirty in the misguided belief that they'll beat the heat and get a good long run in. 

When I was still running full marathons, training would start to crank up in early July in preparation for the winter marathon season in Texas:  Houston in January, Galveston or Austin in February.  It wasn't so bad, really.  The longer runs - over 10 miles - didn't fall on the schedule until late September, early October.  By then the mornings were a little cooler, the air a little bit fresher.

Then as I got older, and recovery from training for and running full marathons got harder, I dropped to the half marathon.  It was like going on permanent vacation!  I could even delay the start of training until well into the fall.  I could take the summers off completely if I wanted to.

And then I got the wild hair to start running in races outside of the state of Texas.   Flying Pig Half Marathon in early May.  No need to train in the heat of summer for this one.  I did it three years in a row. 

But then in 2010 I signed up for the Maui Half Marathon, held every year in September.  Yikes!  Back to putting in the miles in the summer heat.  The year after that it was a half marathon in Lansing MI in September.  More long runs in the heat of summer.  Then the year after that it was a half marathon in Milwaukee in late June and two half marathons on back-to-back weekends in early September.    I must be nuts!

So here I am, once again signed up for two late summer races.  One is in Parkersburg WV on August 18, the other in Verona NY on August 25. 

When the heat "dial" began to turn up a few notches here along the Gulf coast, it was so tempting to succumb to the comforts of A/C.  I forced myself out the door, even if only to walk at a fast clip.  Getting acclimated to the heat was so crucial.  I'm setting the alarm at o'dark thirty on the days I do my long runs, and hoping I get out the door before 7:00 AM on the days I do my short runs. 

The nine-mile run route last week

Last week I managed to slog through a 9 mile run in 78 degree temps with 90% humidity.  And that's before the sun was up.  By the time I finished that run, it was into the 80's.  This week I pushed through a 6 mile run in only slightly cooler temps of 76 degrees and 89% humidity.  

I've forced myself to do speed intervals and fartleks on most of the short run days just to remind my legs that slow is not always better.  A slow slogging pace can too easily become a habit.  And yes, I sweat buckets, but as the summer has advanced, so has my tolerance for the heat.

The good news is that the weather forecast for Parkersburg on race day morning is for low 60's.  That's going to feel downright chilly to this heat-acclimated runner!


  1. Oh man, I don't know how you run in that heat. Is there at least a breeze with that humidity?

    Have you thought about running at midnight?

  2. LOL! I don't know how I do, either! No breeze in the mornings. Doesn't pick up until heat of the day. Temps at midnight are typically still in the 90's, unfortunately. :(