Some Like It Hot (I Am Not Some)

July 9, 2012


Remember when I ran Pat’s Run in April and it was 90 degrees and I was pretty sure I was going to die? And then in May I ran a 5k and it was 80 degrees and I actually cried because I didn’t feel well? Well, those two experiences pretty much destroyed my running confidence. Okay, those two events coupled with the continually rising temperatures, and our runs getting later and later… in spite of my waking up earlier and earlier… resulted in running becoming more difficult, mentally and physically.*

Anyway, the half marathon is only about 8 weeks away and training can no longer be paused or delayed or altered in order to make me feel better. From here on out mileage is steadily increasing whether I am red faced, shallow breathed, and cotton mouthed or not.

An idiot I am not, I’ve done everything I am supposed to do. Lighter weight socks and clothing, hydrating to the point where I have considered peeing in bushes on the side of the road,** trying to run earlier in the morning,*** and still, over about 72 degrees, I struggle. My (already pretty slow) pace slows by a minute or two by mile, my legs feel like rubber after 3 miles, and my chest feels like someone has it in a vice.† The fact is that, while I’ve adapted a little to running in warmer temperatures, I may never be the kind of person who excels at running in heat.

This wasn’t something that I was willing to accept, of course, until I went to Facebook and asked my friends (filled with a surprising number of runners and otherwise fitness committed people) what their upper limit temperature is for running. I was really expecting the answers to range between 80 and 90 degrees, particularly because when we were running this winter and I asked what the low buffer was the majority of people answered 40 degrees. I was shocked when everyone who responded said 70s, or lower. Two of them in particular – Shannon (a seasoned runner and athlete) and Lisa (easily in the top 5 fittest people I know) surprised me, since both Spencer and Kelli seem fairly un-phased by temperatures in the 80s and even into the 90s. I was so sure that this was related to fitness level, I was shocked.

Then it occurred to me – all of the people responding on Facebook were raised in New England, if not born and raised there. Meanwhile Kelli and Spencer who grew up roughly 16 inches above hell run effortlessly in this shitty, sunny weather. And, while you don’t see kids on swings in August, in the valley, in Arizona (because the metal would cause 3rd degree burns), you do see them outside – playing ball, playing tag, riding bikes to their friends’ houses, even just standing outside in 120 degree weather. Now, I have adjusted, a bit. I don’t even whine about being outside until it gets above 95, as long as I can stand relatively still and have an escape route, but I was a kid who sat inside reading all summer when she couldn’t be submerged in water. There’s a tolerance there that I never developed. Maybe this is yet another genetic or regional pitfall, instead of some fitness shortcoming on my part?

So, what do I do about it? Our half marathon is on Labor Day weekend, not exactly known for being super cool. Our marathon is in December… but it’s in Honolulu, where the average high in December is 80. I think that I go back to my initial goal, stop focusing on time, and train as warm as I can to prepare. It’s all I can do.

And, if we register for another marathon make it that one around polar circle in Greenland. (I actually really want to do this. Don’t tell Spencer.)

*I’ve also been having some health issues, that’s not a secret… unfortunately no one has been able to tell me exactly what they are so I can’t tell you anything other than MY ARM IS DONE GIVING UP BLOOD, OKAY. And if I’m not smiling it’s probably not because I’m in a bad mood I’m just really fucking tired, okay? (Being sick is troublesome enough, being sick as someone whom others perceive as always being bubbly and in a good mood is pretty much the worst. Also? I can think of very few more condescending terms to describe a grown woman than “bubbly.”)
**So far a full bladder has seemed less scary than the possibility of squatting over a rattlesnake.
***I am a morning person, Spencer is not. Getting him on the road before 6:30 a.m. is a lot like dragging your dog into the vet’s office. (Although, he doesn’t submissive pee all over me like Ted when he knows it’s time to go to the doctor.)
†Okay, so that might be related to the other health problem… maybe. (You know it’s a bad sign when you’re hoping that it’s asthma.)

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